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Superstar Shakira signs up to sing the praises of Fisher-Price toys

Shakira’s hips don’t lie, and Fisher-Price is counting on her authenticity.

In its first celebrity partnership, Fisher-Price has teamed up with Colombian pop star Shakira to design and promote a line of baby products. As the East Aurora company goes after millennial parents – its new target demographic – its market strategy is evolving to better leverage social media and promote the brand in emerging global markets.

The Shakira campaign is Fisher-Price’s first all-digital one; custom made for the first generation of parents to grow up with the Internet. Shakira is an international star with a huge global following on social media, especially in Spanish-speaking countries. She is also married to professional soccer player Gerard Piqué, who has nearly 10 million Twitter followers and 15 million Facebook “likes” of his own. Those are huge assets as Fisher-Price tries to push growth in overseas sales.

The mother of two is also the first person to break 100 million “likes” on Facebook. Her celebrity status opens the brand up to a wide audience of devoted fans. Fisher-Price has about 4,000 followers on Instagram – Shakira has more than 5 million. That’s more than 5 million people who will begin seeing pictures of Fisher-Price products sprinkled in with Shakira’s own personal, behind-the-scenes photos detailing her world travels and celebrity lifestyle.

The added glitz of a celebrity mom puts a glossy sheen on the sometimes mundane aspects of parenting.

“I suppose the biggest difference between choosing styles as an entertainer and choosing styles as a mom is that as a mom, practicality comes first, and then aesthetics,” Shakira said in an email.

Traveling the world for concerts and photo shoots requires baby gear with the same features coveted by any busy mom – one product with multiple functions.

“The less we have to carry, the better,” she said.

In addition to the baby products in her First Steps collection, Shakira stars in a series of 12 webisodes in which she talks about childhood development and motherhood rather than hawking products the old-fashioned way. There are Spanish and English versions of each.

One webisode, “Reading to Baby,” talks about the importance of reading to shape development. It features the Count ’n Teethe Soft Book toy she helped develop, but doesn’t mention it directly. In “What it Means to be a Mom,” she talks about how important it is to stimulate and educate children through play – Fisher-Price’s entire value proposition.

Another webisode, “Raising an Agent of Change,” talks about encouraging philanthropy in children, weaving in her Barefoot Foundation, a charity that supports education in impoverished communities and gets equal billing with Shakira in the product line’s marketing. Shakira’s share of the product proceeds go to the foundation.

Each one-minute webisode features the star having down-to-earth conversations about motherhood – trading on the authenticity that is the most sought after currency in social media marketing, according to Kevin Manne, a social media expert at the University at Buffalo’s School of Management.

“Authenticity is a key factor for businesses to be successful in social media,” he said. “In this case, because Shakira is a mother, she can speak to other moms in a way they can relate to and believe in.”

The Shakira campaign is an extension of the mommy blogger phenomenon – engaged online parents who have tremendous power to shape their followers’ buying habits. In the age of online mom networks and earnest product testimonials, organic-seeming advertising is key. Fisher-Price has a panel of “FP Insiders,” real moms who talk about Fisher-Price and offer parenting tips.

“If your message is for young mothers, you have to share your message where they’ll hear it, and these days it’s on social media more and more,” Manne said.