Canadian computer vendor MDG Computers Canada Inc. has courted NBA All-Star Steve Nash to sign on as a celebrity spokesperson. The vendor hopes to score big time with the deal, but chief marketing officer Brian Monette says it’s not always

a slam dunk.

Pipeline: What does having a player of his caliber means to your image?

Brian Monette: For us our attraction to Steve was driven from a Canadian theme. MDG is one of the largest Canadian PC manufacturers and one of the largest non-multinational OEMs. We were looking for an endorsement personality we could associate with, and a lot of Steve’s endorsements and his work with the Steve Nash Foundation we believe as a natural fit for MDG. We have, if you look at anything you read about Steve Nash he’s a genuine person, which is not typically found in the elite people. So from a value standpoint, that was really the match for us, obviously the Canadian theme was very strong and that was one of our value propositions to the Canadian community.

Pipeline: When you use a celebrity spokesperson how do you ensure you reach your target audience?

BM: I think it’s tricky anytime you rely on an endorsement. What we’re trying to do is we’ve grown over the last 14 years because of the model we have which is a direct to store from manufacturing model, and that’s not going to change. If you look at our ads today you may not see Steve in every one of our ads so we will introduce Steve appropriately where we can message to the market value propositions that are consistent with Steve’s beliefs and that we believe our customers will attribute to MDG.

Pipeline: Have you used a spokesperson before?

BM: We have not.

Pipeline: Will he be involved in advertising at any level?

BM: He approves them, just like almost every endorsement contract to make sure the ads are true to him.

Pipeline: Is there any risk associated with using celebrity spokespeople?

BM: I think there is. I was at Dell for a number of years, and I think Dell had issues with Steve at one point in time that were in the press. I think you have to be careful with them and I think if you look at anyone in traditional marketing they desperately look to get an ROI on these investments and I think it has still proved to be quite tricky to do. We like Steve. We think he’s a great fit for our company and we’re looking to make sure we can mutually benefit from it.

Pipeline: How do you measure the success of these relationships?

BM: It’s something very tricky. We look at it internally purely from a business standpoint. We also look at it from a research standpoint; we have dedicated team responsible for doing research that’s both Web-based and traditional focus group based and we’ll spend a fair amount of time on trying to understand that in a better way. If you look at the average ad in print today, and MDG to some degree falls into that space, it’s all speeds and feeds and we’re not talking to consumers in ways that consumers can understand what has traditionally been made complex about technology so anytime we can introduce the benefits of technology that are easy to understand and interpret I think the Canadian consumer will benefit from it.

Pipeline: Does Steve Nash know anything about technology?

BM: He does. Surprisingly, not necessarily for Steve because he’s of an age that has grown up with technology and he’s very comfortable with it.

Pipeline: Are you looking at getting other celebrity spokespersons in the future?

BM: We’ll deal with one celebrity spokesperson at a time.

Pipeline: Are there any other fields you’d be interested in pursuing?

BM: Not at moment, we were just pleased Steve was willing to work with us and I think we found some common ground we can build upon.

Pipeline: Was he looking for this kind of partnership specifically for his foundation?

BM: No. You’ll hear a little in the first week of September about our donation to the Steve Nash Foundation as well as the donation lf technology to Canadian schools in Ontario and B.C.

Pipeline: Is there a period he will be your spokesperson?

BM: I can’t share it with you but yes.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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