Kutcher Brands Nikon, But Is Nikon Branding Kutcher?

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Those who have seen recent Nikon commercials starring actor Ashton Kutcher may have wondered exactly what connection was being made between the heartthrob and the camera. Was Kutcher there just to draw attention to the ad, in hopes his star power might rub off?

It turns out Kutcher’s involvement was nothing more than showing up for an afternoon and collecting his paycheck. But will it matter? And more importantly, will consumers connect the Nikon name with Kutcher well after the fact? And even more importantly, has Kutcher gone too far?[more]

What Nikon has with Kutcher can be referred to as a “360” deal, as in “in all ways and from every direction.” The commercials were just a beginning. In what may be unprecedented involvement for a celebrity spokesperson, even at this A-list level, Kutcher is leveraging his 3.9 million private Twitter account followers to promote the Nikon brand. Other celebrities are involved with Twitter and endorsements to lesser degrees, though none as high profile as Kutcher. The effort is essentially a combination of Twitter and personality-based product placement.

It appears it’s working with at least one person.

But what is the long term impact for the brand? No, not Nikon’s. Kutcher’s. Nikon clearly has nothing to lose by establishing such a deep association with such a huge name. But as Kutcher’s involvement moves past the straight cash-for-commercial that audiences have come to accept, will his fans see him as a sellout or a shill, and will his own brand of goofy, boy-next-door purity suffer?

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