By Elie Khouri, Chief Executive Officer at OMG
Less than six months after Etihad introduced Hollywood star Nicole Kidman as its brand ambassador, FRIENDS star Jennifer Aniston signed a $5 million global brand endorsement deal with Emirates. Last week the airline announced it will be spending approximately $20 million to run advertisements featuring the actress. That’s a lot of money and effort. Will it be worth it? I’m going to reserve my judgment until the campaign is released. Until then, here are my first impressions of the association.
Game of copycat: Regardless of when negotiations really began, announcing Aniston mere months after Kidman, will strike the on-looker as an attempt at catching-up. Emirates has worked long and hard to establish itself as a serious international player in the industry – should it really be playing second fiddle to its much younger and less established Middle Eastern aviation brother? That being said, the onus now lies in the hands of Emirates: will they choose to do something bigger, bolder and better than its counterpart? Will Aniston be seen sitting rigidly in first or business class with a forced smile? Or will we see something so bold and universal, it has the potential to go viral.
Cultural relevance: Emirates is a global brand with Middle Eastern roots – a brand ambassador should ideally reflect that rich cultural mix. Compared to other celebrities, America’s sweetheart Aniston may be more conservative and controversy-free but some may question her link to the Middle East. Perhaps partnering with a celebrity like Amal Clooney, Salma Hayek or Shakira could help the airline appeal to the starstruck while still maintaining a connection to the region. Also, it is worth asking: is Jennifer Aniston’s brand big enough for a global company like Emirates? The brands she’s been associated with in the past, Smartwater and Aveeno skincare products, pale in comparison to the scale of Emirates. Still, this could be seen as a positive thing when compared to Kidman’s multiple partnerships with mega brands like Omega, Chanel and Jimmy Choo which dilutes the power of her endorsement.
Building on brand values : Aniston’s charm lies in her girl-next-door persona. While few can doubt her allure, how does it compare to Emirates’ bold and daring ethos of Hello Tomorrow? The airline has worked tirelessly to associate itself with exotic destinations, wanderlust and unceasing thirst for adventure. Will Aniston’s goofy, down-to-earth persona match up? That being said, perhaps this association is part of a larger initiative to continue building on the association between Emirates and Dubai by tapping into the emirate’s values of accessibility, fun and friendliness. Unlike its past sports-heavy ambassadors like Pele and Ronaldo, choosing a household name like Jennifer Aniston could help broaden the airline’s appeal and position Dubai as the ultimate tourist destination.
No matter which way you cut it, we are all very excited to see how this will unfold. Until then, let me know what you think of the deal in the comments section down below. Are you with Team Jen? If not, were it up to you who would you rather partner with?