Quirky House
MC's

Managing Personalities as a Brand

High profile personalities are under constant pressure to perform outside of their professions, be it as Master of Ceremonies, guest speakers, appearing at charitable events or as special guests at functions. As a rule, the South African entertainment industry does not pay well and the Corporate environment offers a lucrative means to an end for artists, comics and TV personalities to do what they love and earn enough to pay the bills.

For show business personalities of the moment, the big buck potential can be tempting but therein lies the rub. Cashing in on high profile status deals, willy nilly and without question, will lead to the demise of a personality as a leader brand, according to Ronnie Whitaker of Quirky House, brand manager to Tumi Makgabo, Colin Moss, Mark Bayly, Jeannie D,  Jo Ann Strauss and Nicky Greenwall, among others.

“Positioning is key in maintaining a personality as a leader brand. Personality brands should receive the same attention to detail as a company or an upmarket product” says Ronnie Whitaker, who established Quirky House in 2000 to offer a marketing service to  leader brands in the MC and entertainment industry. Since then the Quirky House book has grown to include some of the top names on the small screen.

“Companies, products and services are positioned, marketed and priced according to their branding. Public figures should be marketed in the same way” says Whitaker. “Turning a celebrity into a trophy doll might pay well for two or three years but they pay a high price for that. Once the public is sick of seeing them sprouting forth in ad nauseam infomercials, performing mock presenter roles or showcasing dodgy products, they are not likely to want to see them in anything else.”

Whitaker sees infomercials as one  the worst insults to celebrities.  “Personalities are merged with that of the repetitive ad. Before long,  the trophy doll status becomes dull, boring, unbelievable and a sell out. All the study, hard work and success of the small screen star is handed to the “telly-marketer” on a sacrificial plate. The money is tempting but surely no price is high enough to give away everything you have worked for?”

Attention to detail in image protection to corporate MC and speaker bookings is paramount at the Quirky House stable. It’s essential to match the personality and branding of a celebrity to a company, a venue or a product in order to protect both. 

The brief is important too and clients have as much responsibility in this as the event manager or agent. As a writer, Ronnie Whitaker assists both client and celebrity in writing and scripting.  “It’s worth going the extra mile to ensure your brand isn’t affected by a disappointing performance. There’s nothing worse than seeing a popular screen star appear on stage and have nothing intelligent to say. Being a celebrity doesn’t necessarily qualify you to be an MC, a fact many corporate clients have found out too late. There are basic requirements for a successful  MC - the ability to think on your feet, quick wit, charm, skill in public speaking and the art of repartee. But to be an awesome celebrity MC, you have to be able to speak from the heart about the company and it’s services or products. You have to be passionate about the topic and you have to be believable. That’s why we are passionate about the brief!”

“Corporate clients pay well for a top celebrity MC. They should get a value added service.”

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