How Event Planners Can Hire Celebs Without Breaking the Bank

Event planners often ask if celebrity video app services are just as good as booking a keynote speaker.

In a recent Forbes article, Ken Sterling, BigSpeak’s Executive Vice President & Chief Learning Officer, describes instances where it might make more sense to incorporate a celebrity video into a meeting or event from a cost, personalization and convenience perspective.

Perhaps you want to hire your employee’s favorite singer to sing him happy birthday, or maybe you want an actor from your favorite show to deliver a personalized three minute video message to your company?

A celebrity video app service like Cameo, CelebVM, Charitybuzz, Greetzly, Prizeo and myFanPark could be exactly what you’re looking for.

Should Event Planners Hire Keynote Speakers Or Purchase Celebrity Videos?

Previously published in Forbes

Lately, event planners have been asking me about the benefits of using a short celebrity video for their event compared to hiring a celebrity for a full keynote. As a speakers bureau executive who curates keynote speaking experiences many times a day, I get this question a lot. Fortunately, these celebrity video app services aren’t in direct competition with speakers bureaus, so I’m happy to explain the benefits of using them instead of a keynote.

If you haven’t heard, there are many celebrity services you can use through a phone app or computer, like Cameo, CelebVM, Chartitybuzz, Greetzly, Prizeo and myFanPark. Each of them offers celebrity access. Not all of them focus on video recording offerings.

Several services offer short, personalized video messages. Each offers a different selection of celebrities and variable pricing. On the other hand, if you’re looking for more interaction with your celebrity (say, a cooking class with your favorite chef or an acting lesson from your actor crush), there are services for that too.

While the video services are marketed inexpensively to the average consumer (so they can send a personalized birthday greeting or congratulations message to a friend or family member), they are generally more expensive for businesses. For example, a personal birthday greeting could cost between $200 and $600, depending on who you select. On the other hand, if it’s a business “shoutout,” the fee could be $10,000 or higher.

So here are some things to consider if you’re thinking of trying a celebrity video for your event instead of a keynote: cost, personalization and convenience.


At first glance, the biggest advantage might be the pricing for a video compared to a keynote. Instead of paying $100,000 for a keynote, you could request a short celebrity video for $20,000 or less. (The actual fee, of course, is largely dependent on the fame of your celebrity and the length of the video you want.)

Hold on, though — wouldn’t that make the cost per hour (or per minute) much higher? The short answer is yes. Your average $100,000 celebrity virtual keynote for an hour works out to $1,667 per minute, while paying $10,000 for three minutes is $3,333 per minute (and it may still be $20,000-$30,000 for that three minutes). You get overall savings but pay more per minute.

Unfortunately, you probably can’t pose as an average consumer and order a less expensive video for your event. When I recently sampled one platform to order a kick-off message from one of The Office cast members for our sales team at the cheaper rate, I got “kicked over” to the more expensive business side.


When it comes to personalization, short videos might be better for your event than a standard keynote. Often, your typical celebrity has a set story that doesn’t change for your company, although they will mention the company name at the beginning. With a short video, however, celebs can tailor a message to apply to your company, conference or trade show. By tailor, I mean that you can often write the message to ensure your celebrity delivers exactly what you want your team to know.


These short video services have one clear advantage over keynotes (and speakers bureaus): convenience. You can easily set up an account in a few minutes and order the celebrity you want — sometimes at the last minute. You don’t have to schedule a keynote months in advance or go through a maze of managers, lawyers or paperwork. Likewise, you don’t have to worry about the celebrity’s busy work schedule, flight times, hotel bookings or city traffic delays when you hire them for a keynote. They make the video prior to the event, and you can schedule it for exactly when you want to use it.

So if you’re an event planner who wants to book your favorite celebrity to add zest to your conference or meeting, you might want to consider hiring a celebrity for a short video message. While a full keynote could give you a better price per hour, I have to admit that a short celebrity video could be more personalized and convenient to book. Plus, if you’ve absolutely maxed out your budget and need the sizzle of a celebrity, a short video could be the answer.

As an event planner, you will be faced with choosing the right celebrity, format and video content for your very important event. The first and most important factor is choosing a celebrity guest and experience that aligns with the event, theme and audience. Also, you want it to be fun, memorable and customized to the group. For example, if it’s a sales organization that’s highly competitive and numbers-driven, a professional athlete or coach could be a great option. If it’s an HR group and The Office is a common joke or conversational theme with this crowd, one of the cast members of the show could be a great option. If it’s an entrepreneurial group, one of the Shark Tank panelists could be a great idea. (Full disclosure: BigSpeak represents some panelists as keynote speakers.) Remember that fees for business groups could range from $1,000 to $25,000 or higher.