Brand Ambassador Agreement

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Close-up of Jennifer Aniston smiling in front of microphone.
Close-up of Jennifer Aniston smiling in front of microphone. (Image: Jason Merritt/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

When celebrities or other people your customers trust endorse your business, you can boost sales based on their trustworthiness. A brand ambassador program can also cause serious damage to your business if it’s not handled correctly. Understanding the basics of endorsements can help you create the most effective agreements for your business.

Deciding on the Benefits

When creating an ambassador agreement, first decide why you want to do it. Potential customers might pay more attention to your ads if a celebrity delivers the message. Customers might be more likely to buy from you if an industry professional puts his seal of approval on your product or service. For example, tennis companies hire local teaching pros to use their rackets and wear their clothes. Consumers feel that if a professional uses the product, it must be good. You might look for a brand ambassador who has a large following, hoping to convert her fans into your buyers. Some ambassador agreements use an unknown person, creating a persona with an actor or other role player that is similar to the target customer in terms of age, sex, race, income level or other trait.

Creating the Endorsement

Next list all the activities your ambassador will need to undertake. This can include media interviews, event appearances, regular blog posts, having the ambassador use your product in her line of work and using her image on your product packaging, throughout your website and in your marketing materials. List the specific appearances you want the ambassador to make. Make sure she is available during the annual trade show, sporting event or sale you plan to have her attend. List her obligations, such as posing for photographs, making videos, giving talks and using the product.

Finding the Right Ambassador

Match the right ambassador to your program. Get general ideas from your customers using surveys or focus groups. For example, parents of young children who play sports might trust a well-known local high school coach who runs a summer camp. A local women’s health-food store might use a local female personal trainer with a large following. Car dealers often use college coaches or professional athletes as ambassadors. After you narrow your list to specific potential endorsers, consider testing your choices with customers. Use photos, videos and advertising and packaging mock-ups. Interview potential endorsers to determine their knowledge of your product or service, whether they use it and whether they’ve ever endorsed a business before.

Other Agreement Details

Include penalties for nonperformance in your contract. For example, when a golf manufacturer hires a local golf professional to endorse its clubs, the company stipulates that the pro must play and teach with its clubs and wear a shirt, cap or visor with the company’s logo on it. The company prohibits the ambassador from using or promoting competitor clubs. Consider offering the ambassador a bonus based on a percentage of your gross sales increase during the time of the endorsement to motivate him to promote your business. Bonuses can be a two-edged sword, however. After George Foreman spurred massive sales of the George Foreman grill during its first five years, the maker of the grill paid him more than $137 million to buy out his huge percentage bonuses. Include a morals or behavior clause that allows you to end the agreement if the ambassador publicly damages his own reputation.

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