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Meet Carol Goll, matchmaker to the stars.
This story first appeared in the November 16, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Goll is head of global branded entertainment at International Creative Management, a talent and literary agency representing clients in the fields of motion pictures, television, publishing, music, theater, branded entertainment and digital media. Her job is to find ways to marry worldwide brands, celebrity talent and entertainment content in partnerships that are mutually beneficial. Prior to ICM, Goll spent more than 13 years in charge of brand marketing at Mercedes-Benz USA, but then switched from cars to stars, New York to Los Angeles, and products to people, she said.
One of the successful marriages she has arranged was with actress Megan Fox, who was already a household name thanks to the first two “Transformers” movies, which have grossed over $1.5 billion worldwide. She said Fox’s looks made her an obvious choice to be the face of a fashion luxury or cosmetics line. “But today brands are asking more of a celebrity than just good looks and fame. Social media is playing an ever-increasing role in brand entertainment deals,” she said.
Goll pointed out that many performers communicate directly with their fans around the world through social media, deepening the personal, emotional connection people have with celebrities. Certain brands, which are seeking ways to reinvent themselves and appeal to a younger demographic, are turning to celebrities who will actively engage with their fans via Facebook and Twitter. Goll said she personally has 100 friends on Facebook. “Megan Fox? 29 million. She’s the No. 1 actress on Facebook today,” she said. Actresses with that kind of social media clout, where they’ve got a built-in focus group and a loyal customer base, are in hot demand, she said.
Goll was able to pair Fox with Giorgio Armani, and the actress became the face of Emporio Armani Underwear, Armani Jeans and Giorgio Armani Cosmetics. During her presentation, Goll showed a sexy Armani Jeans commercial, where a room service waiter delivers a meal to Fox’s room. As he sets up the tray, he watches her slowly getting dressed. When she goes to give him a tip, the waiter declines — the scene of Fox dressing herself being reward enough.
A few years ago, an ad like this might have appeared on a few billboards and a couple of print ads, but today digital technology provides more avenues for it, said Goll. She said digital technology provides limitless options to deliver content, and images and videos can be shared via the Web, Twitter, Facebook and Internet-enabled TV. The Armani Jeans video was played 4.6 million times on YouTube. Fox’s Facebook page also offered additional exclusive Armani content, along with behind-the-scenes video of Fox sharing thoughts about fashion and beauty topics. “Within minutes of Megan posting the film, she had more than 30,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook. That’s 30,000 people actually engaging with the brand on an emotional level within seconds,” said Goll.
Having a strong social media platform is an important aspect of celebrities’ careers, she said. “Music labels, film studios and TV networks all want a part of it. And in more and more film and TV contracts, artists are required to promote their projects on their own social media platforms,” said Goll. Additionally, for endorsements, having a strong social media component often determines who gets the deal.
Another ICM client, actress Hailee Steinfeld, who appeared in “True Grit,” struck a deal to become the face of Miu Miu, said Goll. She explained that by partnering with Steinfeld, Miu Miu aligned itself with a star who resonates with girls and women alike because of her sweetness and inner strength. Steinfeld was also seen in a more sophisticated light as she seeks more mature roles.
Finally, Goll discussed an ad Eminem did for Chrysler during this year’s Super Bowl. She explained it was a difficult time for Chrysler since “no one was buying cars.” The car brand was out to reinvent itself as a luxury player with the tagline “Imported from Detroit.” Eminem was overcoming his own personal challenges and was in the process of reinventing his own brand. Eminem (who has 48 million fans on Facebook), made a cameo in the Chrysler spot which showed numerous images of the city of Detroit, from abandoned buildings to the art and music scene, and delivered one line: “This is the Motor City, and this is what we do.”
“In the end, no one could have predicted the emotional power this spot managed to capture, not just for Chrysler…but America as a whole. It almost made him a national folk hero overnight,” said Goll. That ad, for the Chrysler 200 automobile, won an Emmy and was viewed 12 million times on YouTube. Not only that, but Chrysler reported a $116 million profit for the first quarter for 2011, compared to a $197 million net loss for first quarter of 2010.