We’ve all been dazzled by ads featuring celebrities, — admit it!

At the very least, you did a double take when Peyton Manning and Joe Montana were telling you to get two for one at Papa John’s. But it may come as a surprise to many folks just how attractive the franchising industry is to Sports and Entertainment industry figures. Rapper Rick Ross owns Wingstop stores, Serena Williams made a splash with several Jamba Juice stores and the aforementioned Peyton Manning owns at least 21 Papa John’s units. Shaquille O’Neal owns nearly twenty Auntie Anne’s units, and he is said to LOVE the product.

Why would you want to be a franchisee when you are successful in Sports or as an Entertainer? The answer is simple. Built in profit! Also, it’s a great way for someone with the assets to get their money working for them. When celebs take ownership stake in a franchise, the business model is turnkey and usually proven to succeed. Unlike, for instance, starting your own restaurant from the ground up. When Britney Spear’s foray into the restaurant business, Nyla, in New York City or J.Lo’s stab at it, Madre’s in Los Angeles, failed, it was due to a staggering lack of expertise and manpower in running an actual restaurant. The management structure built into franchises – everything from marketing to operations — is the secret to success.

Celebrities can be powerful advocates for your brand, even if you don’t have an advertising contract for them to be “official” spokespeople. This type of partnership between a brand and a celeb is the ultimate win-win situation. Brands can attract potential franchisees by touting these relationships, even featuring their prized partners as speakers at annual conventions, etc.

Of course, the connection has to be right. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints Quarterback, was a loyal Jimmy Johns customer before he took the plunge and became a franchisee. Magic Johnson is a Starbucks devotee through and through, and added outdoor patio areas to several of his Los Angeles units to enhance the relaxed atmosphere promoted by the brand. You ideally want these highly visible franchisees to understand and like your brand. Of course, certain risks are built into publicizing these relationships, so you’ll want to do due diligence with your legal team’s involvement. Protecting the brand is always the priority.

But the trend of celebrity involvement in franchised businesses shows no sign of slowing down and we wouldn’t be surprised to see more of our favorite athletes and entertainers enter into franchising agreements in coming years. Is celebrity involvement right for your brand? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Forbes, May 2014
QSR, 2014

Lisa Herrera Pilcher
Director of Sales & Marketing at BrandPOP
Lisa Herrera Pilcher is the Business Development Consultant at BrandPOP. She uses her extensive background in print and client service to help build marketing strategy using BrandPOP's print collateral programs.