Back in August, Ad Age’s Jay Silverman posted a comprehensive survival guide for getting “the most out of that expensive talent.” He gave his readers some important tips for working with celebrities, like they aren’t there to win their next Oscar, to never assume (anything), and to choose your battles.
But what if your celeb spokesperson is not getting paid the big bucks, but is instead doing the campaign pro-bono for the love of the cause? Do these same rules apply?
Yes, and more.
Over the years we’ve worked on a number of different campaigns featuring celebrities, so here are a few other learnings that I hope will fall into the “we did it so you don’t have to” camp.
You have to work around their time. One of the most important things to get into our heads is that as a non-paying client, we are not a first priority. Your celeb talent may very well be your cause’s biggest champion, but unexpected things happen. And many times those things can trump your production schedule. Make sure you hire a production team who has worked with celebs before and is nimble enough to roll with whatever’s thrown their way. It also doesn’t hurt to have a plan B or C – i.e. have a script that requires no celebs or a flexible schedule to accommodate different shoot times/dates. Just in case.
Show up with your A game. We should strive to do that on every production, but it’s especially important when the celeb’s time is so precious. Typically you’ll get an hour, two hours max to capture everything. Make sure you know what is needed and be ready to go when the celeb arrives – scripts, teleprompter, cue cards, etc. Some actors are a natural at adlibbing, but some just wants to do the script and get going. Know ahead of time which kind of actor you’re working with, and be sure you can live with whatever’s most comfortable for him.
Be gracious. This is a no-brainer, but saying thank you goes a long way. Show your sincere appreciation and you’ll be surprise how much more you can get from the talent, both in terms of quality and quantity of acting.
Lastly and perhaps the most important tip of all is to get your paperwork – any required talent contracts, releases and riders – signed when the celeb is on set. This may seem like a minor point but once they leave, it’s a much bigger hassle to get them or their reps to focus on you again. Just trust me on this one.