Ugg & Lil Yachty Probably Weren’t a Good Match — Here’s Why Some Celebrity Endorsements Don’t Work

When you hear the word “Ugg,” what comes to mind?

Perhaps the sheepskin boot brand — which found favor with Oprah Winfrey and drew a cult following among suburban sorority girls in the early 2000s — doesn’t readily call to memory images of 21-year-old rapper Lil Yachty.

While both the brand and the music artist have their undeniable buzz in common, that may be precisely where the harmony ends, according to a new report by research firm Spotted Inc.

Exclusively for FN, the company, which analyzes millions of data points in the celebrity endorsement space, assessed 240 footwear/celebrity endorsement deals from 2017 to 2018 and determined that the partnership between Lil Yachty and Ugg was among the worst.

“There’s a huge disparity and mismatch between the consumer who [Lil Yachty] appeals to and influences, and the Ugg customer base,” said Spotted co-founder and CEO Janet Comenos. “One of the major issues is that the household income of the people he influences is far below people who are [typically] able to buy Ugg product. Consumers do not believe he embodies the traits of the Ugg brand. Third, he does not score high when it comes to trust and ‘relatability.’”

Spotted ranked the endorsement campaigns based on three factors: perception analysis — scoring celebrities based on how recognizable they are; risk assessment — looking at the recency and frequency of controversies surrounding the celebrity such as arrests; and audience match — the overlap between a brand’s online audience and that of the celebrity’s based on age, gender, income and location.

Other partnerships that scored low on Spotted’s rankings were Sofia Richie and Adidas; Gisele Bündchen for Under Armour; and Wiz Khalifa for Gap.

According to Comenos, more often than not, for the lowest-performing campaigns, the prevalent issue is that the kind of consumer to whom the celebrity appeals is misaligned with the consumer who buys the brand’s products.

“The way these very expensive, high-visibility campaigns are [orchestrated] is that it’s typically a single marketer or group of marketers sitting around a table saying, ‘I know this person is really cool; I feel like they’re really popular; I feel like they’re a really good fit for our brand’ — it’s a lot of ‘I think’ and ‘I feel’ type of talk,” Comenos explained. “Brands are not actually using data to form these decisions, and these [campaigns] end up flopping or turning off consumers.”

To be fair, brands — and Ugg is one example — will often tap new and unique endorsers for new initiatives aimed at expanding their presence and engaging new audiences. So it’s not altogether ineffective when labels opt to step outside the box for new partnerships. The key, however, is for companies to “introduce these partnerships in a way that doesn’t create a polarizing effect on [their] existing customers,” Comenos said.

According to the Spotted report, some celebrity partnerships that fared well during the past year include Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Under Armour as well as Drew Barrymore for Crocs.

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