Amazing Face

Phil Keoghan has celebrity clout—and he plans to use it

Photograph by Alistair Guthrie

Photograph by Alistair Guthrie

Cambo isn’t the only Kiwi celeb on IMG’s books. Phil Keoghan, Amazing Race face, has personal branding down to a fine art. His take on it: pick companies that you respect, then help them shout their message.

“In a global economy, in competition, we Kiwis are not good at pushing ourselves and saying, ‘Hey I’ve got a really good company, a really good brand, this is world-class, pay attention!” says Keoghan. “We just think it’ll be okay and sit back. We’re not aggressive enough. The best Kiwi companies are those that really stand up and say pay attention.”

Keoghan is certainly getting his own attention from Kiwi brands. He’s a brand ambassador for Air New Zealand. When Idealog meets him in Mission Bay he’s already had calls from three Kiwi companies wanting to get in on the action, and he’s munching on a Cookie Time One Square Meal. He’s just formed a partnership to launch One Square Meal in the States, rebranded with Keoghan’s own brand: NOW, for No Opportunity Wasted.

The deal was done (naturally) over a New Zealand beer in the Christchurch Koru Lounge. Keoghan plans to promote the bars on a charity tour, cycling from LA to New York; while he handles the marketing and publicity, Cookie Time will take care of manufacture and distribution. They’re splitting the proceeds 50/50—and Keoghan gets a lifetime supply of the product too. “Really, I just got involved with One Square Meal so I don’t have to keep shipping them over to LA,” he quips. It’s his staple food while he’s working on The Amazing Race, and he’s quick to stress that he only endorses brands he uses.

“I think New Zealanders, as soon as they leave the shores, inherently became ambassadors for the country and New Zealand products. So I only feel I’m doing my bit. I just happen to have access to a lot of media. I’m happy to use that profile to support brands I really believe in.”

He’s not shy about using the pulling power of celebrity for a brand. “Having a quality product is only part of the equation; you have to find a way to sell it. There are 150,000 new book titles released every year, but unless you get on Oprah or find a point of difference, how many great books will sit on shelves unread?”

Keoghan should know—not only does the NOW range include a book and TV series about living your dreams, but he’s an Oprah veteran, already appearing on the show five times.

The One Square Meal deal probably won’t have the talk queen nibbling, but Keoghan plans to differentiate it from the 700 other brands of health bar already on offer. He’s already offered some marketing advice to Cookie Time to make the bar more appealing to Americans. “What really makes it stand out is its New Zealandness, and its naturalness and its balance,” he says. American’s don’t like transfats or preservatives; One Square Meal includes manuka honey as a natural preservative and people in the States, says Keoghan, will love it. The new NOW OSM packaging will have a focus on the honey, plus Keoghan’s face and signature. So far, it’s working. The bar has already been stocked in 1,000 General Nutrition stores across the States. As Keoghan cycles, he’ll be calling into stores to hand out samples, followed by a CBS camera crew.

The rate card for the piece: $20 million. Having Phil Keoghan front your brand? Priceless.

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