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Year In Review: The Power of Celebrity Endorsement in 2016

Never underestimate the power of celebrity.

In footwear, superstars have the power to transform a brand with their endorsement. While celebrity product endorsement is as old as media itself, it has recently taken on new forms with Adidas demonstrating the potential for footwear collaborations.

In high fashion, Adidas has worked with designers like Yohji Yamamoto for Y-3, Stella McCarthy, Raf Simons and Rick Owens (to name a few) which has played a critical role elevating sneakers as a luxury product. Before athleisure truly took off as a trend, Adidas began to lay the groundwork by collaborating with these hot designers.

Possibly the most successful celebrity endorsement in contemporary footwear has been Adidas’ collaboration with Kanye West for the Yeezy Boost. While Nike’s collaboration with Mr. West predates the Yeezy Boost, Adidas’ more effectively harnessed the potential of the sneaker collaboration with repeated limited releases and granting their collaborators creative freedom.

For 2016, Puma followed in the footsteps of  Adidas, by giving celebrities the platform to design collections. This year saw Puma collections by Kylie Jenner and Rihanna. The result has been a huge success, with Puma citing the collaborations during winning quarterly reports and Lyst indicating that Rihanna’s creeper sneakers increased popularity of the Puma brand on their site by 183 percent.

Many footwear brands stick to more conventional endorsements like Meghan Trainor and Howie Long for Skechers, or NFL star Tom Brady and rapper Vic Mensa for Ugg, acting as spokespeople.

In the world of Instagram/Snapchat/Twitter, the power of highly visible individuals over their followers has been a dominate theme in 2016, from product placement to politics, described as “the democratization of influence.” Reports indicate that 2017 will see a growth in investment through social media in terms of celebrity endorsements, with 54 percent of surveyed agency’s spending between $15,000 to $150,000 in 2016.

It seems appropriate that as our media becomes more personal, consumers are responding to more personalized celebrity collaborations. Its one thing if Rihanna wears Pumas, or appears in a Puma commercial, its another if Rihanna is a Puma designer.

Celebrity sneaker endorsements are rarely a sure thing, in some occasions its not until decades later that a celebrity sneaker becomes a must have item (like with Stan Smith).

What’s in a name? For 2017 expect the influence of celebrities and their social media to grow even more, possibly with more brands bulking up their celebrity roster.