Dear Event Doctor: What has been your experience with bringing in celebrities to make appearances, particularly at ancillary events to the main competition? Are they generally a draw for potential attendees, or should we avoid the practice? What issues should we consider before attempting to contact someone of note? —Star Struck
Dear Star: Celebrities can be among the most important attendees at events. If you don’t believe me, just ask them. In all seriousness, though, celebrity participation can add prestige to any happening.
Let’s first divide the discussion between celebrities who are authentic to your sports brand and those who attend as fans. The former may be famous alumni of your featured sport or those whose image and lifestyle complement those who attend or compete. Properly promoted, celebrity participation can help build ticket sales and attendance at fan festivals, autograph sessions, pre-game gatherings, symposia and other opportunities connected to the main event. Use of iconic personalities in ceremonial roles, or simply as attendees during the event itself, won’t have much of an effect on an event’s attendance but can add stature to the brand. The question is, will the lift in prestige be worth the costs and effort of securing and managing a celebrity’s attendance?
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The Event Doctor is sports-event veteran Frank Supovitz, president and chief experience officer of Fast Traffic Events & Entertainment, an event management and consulting firm. From 1992 to 2014, Supovitz served as the senior event executive for the National Football League and National Hockey League. He is also the author of “The Sports Event Management and Marketing Playbook.” Questions for The Event Doctor can be emailed to Frank Supovitz at email@example.com.