Personal brands are powerful, and Jesinta Franklin has built one of the best of her generation. Only in her mid-twenties, she has used her intelligence and savvy to transform a Miss Australia title into a career as a brand ambassador and healthy lifestyle advocate.
Having released a lifestyle book late last year, which claims to reveal the secrets behind her personal success (and let’s be honest, stunning physique), it’s little wonder that her fans (and the always ready to attack keyboard warriors) were a little cynical about her choice to represent popular chocolate brand, Cadbury.
There are several obvious reasons for this. Most compelling, as someone whose brand is built on health and wellbeing, chocolate seems an odd product to spruik—and not some organic, sugar-free chocolate, but just your run-of-the-mill Cadbury’s (albeit a dark version).
But, being the business person she is, and with Cadbury no doubt having at hand a team of well-informed marketing advisors, there’s a lot this pairing can tell us about modern branding that’s worth dissecting, block by block.
Franklin understands the beautiful power of imperfection.
Building a personal brand takes courage and a lot of hard work. Franklin would be very aware of what her brand is worth (not just in a financial sense), especially as a voice of young women.
She is known for her willingness to speak her mind, offering educated insights into many public issues, which is why she has been able to move beyond the narrow typecasting of being a pageant queen.
By reading her book, you can see Franklin is aware that her beauty has given her opportunities, but it’s her intellect that’s kept her relevant. Her ability to embrace discussions on make-up application with the more difficult commentary on racism, or mental illness, gives her a broad appeal and credibility. So, by signing a deal with a chocolate brand, has she lost hers? No. She’s recognised an opportunity to shift her brand from the trappings of health perfectionism.
To maintain a personal brand that is human and relatable—which is difficult to achieve when your image is, for most, physically unattainable—it would seem Franklin understands that she has to let people in on her flaws.
Does she have moments of indulgence like the rest of us? According to her Cadbury’s endorsement—yes, she does. Her message as a Cadbury’s ambassador is clear; she’s human. And when the super healthy amongst us choose to indulge, it’s Cadbury’s that she sees as worthy of giving a few calories to.
She’s identifying a positive trend towards balance.
For the past few years, social media has increased our exposure to fit and healthy looking women who appear to be able to maintain incredible bodies while living an (Insta) dream life. This trend of clean eating, active living, Lululemon wearing tribes has been big business, but it also embodies a perfectionism that at its most basic level creates pressure for young women to look a certain way, which in its most grievous form can foster a culture where eating disorders and body dysmorphia are rampant.
Balance is the new message; and by eating chocolate, Franklin is embracing it. While at first, she’s no doubt going to raise a few eyebrows, her ability to appeal to her audience gives Cadbury a chance of securing them when they do decide to take a momentary hiatus from their green juices.
What’s the brand strategy?
The clear strategy for Franklin is to capture this shift towards finding balance, which includes letting your hair down and indulging from time to time. Rather than become isolated by representing an unattainable sense of healthy, beauty and fitness perfection, she is associating with a brand that confirms her more relaxed persona. It’s a way to stay ahead of the curve and remain true to her brand persona. After all, she’s still a fun and sun loving girl from the Gold Coast. This is an essential part of her brand, and aligns well with her ‘bikini body’ fashion positioning.
Despite being a headline act for brands like David Jones, Franklin’s forays into fashion are positioned under the genre of ‘real women’. Unlike the waifish features of a traditional Vogue model, Franklin represents the girl next door beauty that women (under 6ft) can relate to.
For Cadbury too, it’s a well-considered risk. By choosing a personality associated strongly with healthy eating and lifestyle, they don’t actually have to release a healthy product (which would compromise their brand authenticity); instead, they can capture the audience Franklin appeals to by association.
Like a luxury champagne brand, Franklin’s choice to indulge with Cadbury’s rather than any other calorific treat, says to her audience their chocolate is worth adding a few more reps for.
Whether you think this is simply a sweet deal for Franklin or an example of smart brand ambassadorship, it’s anything but ill-considered. And, given how quickly modern media moves on, no doubt it will serve its purpose for both parties; and then when it’s no longer as relevant, Franklin will move on, too.