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When The Stars Align - Choosing the Right Entertainment

By Jonathan Holiff
Posted Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Savvy event producers follow the Golden Rule: know thy audience. When they set out to create a special event, the first thing they do is slip into the shoes of a typical guest. Understanding their audience helps them choose the right location for the event, determine ticket prices, and select the proper advertising and promotional vehicles.

The same measured approach should go into selecting the entertainment. The right band, comedian or speaker will drive ticket sales, help secure sponsors and generate the right amount of excitement, glitz and glamour for the occasion. Indeed, the most carefully considered entertainer can reach far beyond the event, generate a great deal of publicity, and build equity for your client or cause.

Such was the case when we booked Jessica Simpson at a corporate event for Chicken of the Sea. Most of America had seen, or heard about the episode of MTV's "Newlyweds" in which Simpson, while eating out of a can of Chicken of the Sea, wonders aloud whether it is tuna or chicken. This, along with many other gaffs, helped cement Simpson as America's favorite ditz.

By agreeing to appear for Chicken of the Sea, Simpson showed she could laugh with us. And Chicken of the Sea laughed all the way to the bank. We secured her services for less than her usual rate and, though no press attended the event, a post-event release with photo generated press coverage worth an estimated $1 million dollars (ad space equivalent). In our ten years of booking celebrities for events, this project had by far the best return on investment (R.O.I.) for any client.

"How can I possibly replicate that?" you ask. Admittedly, Chicken of the Sea was very lucky. The planets and stars did align on that occasion. But the principle of relevance still applies. Producers must commit to researching talent for common touch-points. Whether you capitalize on current events as they did, or you focus on which talent best matches your objectives, the more relevant your talent, the better it will serve your needs. And, sometimes much more

About the Author
Jonathan Holiff is president and CEO of The Hollywood-Madison Group - the leading recruiter of celebrities for endorsements, events and public relations campaigns. Visit the website at (


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