Panel Title: Flashing Lights: Celebrity, The Red Carpet & the Power of Events.
On the 24th of February, I moderated a panel at the Social Media Week Style Summit, alongside a spectacular line-up of panelists:
Ijeoma Ndekwu:Founder & Lead Account Executive Style Editor-at-Large, Redrick PR & Bella Naija
Eku Edewor: Actress & TV Presenter, Eclipse West Africa
Kola Oshalusi:Principal Photagrapher, Insignia Media
Toju Foyeh: Creative Director , Toju Foyeh (Fashion House)
Funke Babs Kufeji:Assistant Style Editor, This Day Style
Liz Awoliyi: Online Manager & Social Media Strategist, Genevieve Magazine
Prior to the day of the Panel, we got a mini brief from the organiser’s (L’Espace in conjuction with SMW). It read as follows:
“Everyone loves a red carpet star. But how did these ‘stars’ rise? Do they actually influence consumers and are they viable partners for brands? Or is this just a fleeting fancy?
At the location (L’Espace), there was an excited hum in the air…Members of the panel got on stage promptly ….Gulp..
We proceeded with a quick introduction of the topic and the panel members.Social media is a very influential tool and with the onset of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, images of celebrities are now available to the general public in real time. Red carpet images of celebrities are picked up by different internet portals and can be viewed all over the world in a matter of minutes.
This is a fantastic opportunity for the brands, to showcase their products on the celebrities and subsequently get worldwide attention. In some cases, these images keep coming up year after year.. Saving the company/designer tonnes in advertising, projecting the celebrity in positive lights as well as creating trends for the public to follow and directly/indirectly effecting sales.
Ijeoma Ndekwu expounded on how sighting a celebrity in a brand can be a very powerful PR tool. She says in some cases it also has an effect on sales, but also emphasised the importance of pairing the right designer with the right celebrity..Her example was: If a designer’s brand is catering to 45 year olds, it would be a pointless effort to put a very young celebrity in their dress. Nigerian designers are very aware of the importance of celebrity placements and are increasingly taking advantage of it, she explains.
They certainly are; Eku Edewor is one of the most photographed personalities on the Redcarpet. Her most memorable moment was long before she became a famous Tv Presenter and Actress. She attended a greatly publicised wedding in a spectacular red dress and got papped quite a bit.Eku talks about the dress in excited nostalgic tones.The pictures eventually surfaced online and popular Nigerian website Bellanaija did a special feature on it. This image became quite popular and created a very positive effect.
It is not just about the dress, but also a function of who is wearing it and where they are wearing it to. Toju Foyeh firmly believes pairing a celebrity with your garment is miles more effective than direct advertising in magazines/online. She sites Tiwa Savage as an example, describing a garment she made with “Mrs Billz” written boldly on it.. “It was all over the social media.. A bride contacted me, asking for a similar outfit for her wedding shoot”.
Does this hint at the death of print media and a sudden paradigm shift to solely online resources???? Are magazines losing their power to the internet?? Are they still relevant?? Funke Babs Kufeji banishes this thought. In very impassioned tones, Funke says the increasing demand for ThisDay Style and the thousands of copies sold weekly proves that print is still very much in demand. According to her readers profiles, a certain age group still depends solely on magazines for trends and for what’s hip and relevant. She believes social media is very powerful, but print media is at no risk of going extinct….not in the least
It all boils down to the pictures.Magazine Editors, Celebrities, Designers and the general public….Red Carpet photography is increasingly in demand and the photographers have so much power in their hands. Kola Oshalusi confirmed this by talking about the difference in peoples perception of photographers and their reaction to photographers at events. Earlier on in his career, it was a struggle to get a celebrity to give you their names on the red carpet or even get a chance to get a decent picture. Now the reverse is the case, with people boldly asking for their pictures to be taken and willingly giving their names. His images are used and re-used by various blogs and newspapers and have become quite an influential tool .
Liz Awoliyi in her job as online manager for Geneveieve Magazine said celebrity certainly sells. She says there’s an insatiable thirst for celebrity news and people want to read and see what celebrities are wearing or doing. Articles with celebrity names tagged usually gets more hits than the regular articles.. with people tilting towards the more sensational headings such as “who wore it better, worst dressed list and so on.
It was a very informative panel with all the points raised and discussed leading to quite a simple conclusion: Social media is a very powerful tool. Brands “are and should” leverage through events, celebrities and red carpets to increase brand presence via Social Media.
Photography: Insigna Media and Zinkata