Not every brand can afford a celebrity, let alone 20 of them, to appear in an ad campaign, but Cameo, with a roster of 35,000 on-demand public personalities for hire, is positioning itself as a resource for marketers.
The celebrity-fueled messaging platform has been working with brands like Portillo’s, the Chicago restaurant chain, and automaker Infiniti, to help connect them to a roster of stars. This is part of its new Cameo for Business program, which brings its roster of B-List talent that have avid followers to advertisements and other internal brand communications.
Chicago-based Cameo is expanding into business-to-celebrity transactions based on the same premise that founded the company, making it simpler to contract stars online. This is the right time for Cameo to grow the business, too, since it raised $100 million in March at a valuation of $1 billion. Meanwhile, deep-pocketed rivals like Facebook and TikTok are starting to develop products that copy Cameo’s core use case. Also, marketers were starting to reach out to Cameo celebrities on their own for corporate gigs, which helped motivate the company to create a more official channel to facilitate those transactions, says Marty Pesis, managing director of Cameo for Business.
“This all did happen very organically, some early adopters, some really innovative thinkers early on, were creating this use case,” Pesis says. “We’ve had a lot of marketers think about this early on.”
Portillo's was one of the first brands to try Cameo for Business in May with the launch of its chicken sandwich. The restaurant is an institution in Chicago, but it is a regional chain and does not have the same marketing budget as national chains competing in the chicken sandwich wars. While, KFC was working with TikTok celebrity grandma Lili Hayes to hype its sandwich, Portillo’s went to Cameo to pay for 20 custom videos. (As a side note, Hayes also has a Cameo account where she can send personal messages to fans of her TikTok videos.)
Portillo’s came up with a marketing plan to ask celebrities through Cameo to try to pronounce “giardiniera,” the signature pepper that spices its chicken sandwich (It’s commonly pronounced jar-din-air-ah).
“We came up with the hook of, ‘giardiniera, no matter how you say it, it’s good,’ and the only one that could do that for us was Cameo,” says Nick Scarpino, senior VP, marketing and off-premise dining, Portillo's.
Portillo’s hired Cameo celebs, including Brian Baumgartner and Kate Flannery from “The Office.” Also appearing in the ads were Chicago Bears legend Mike Singletary, Tom Felton of “Harry Potter,” sports world’s Erin Andrews, pop star Lance Bass, Cedric The Entertainer, and the "Jersey Shore's" Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi.