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Wednesday
Aug312011

Are celebrity endorsements losing their Midas touch?

Yesterday I joined Alice Terlikowski from mUmBRELLA on The Morning Show to discuss the lure of celebrity endorsements and how you can use them effectively to promote your brand. Below are some further insights on the topic.  For the full video also see below.

Today we live in a world where the stamp of approval from a celebrity is extremely influential, and advertisers pay millions of dollars for big name endorsements. A recent survey into the advertising industry has suggested that up to 88% of advertisements which utilise celebrity endorsements are ineffective at increasing sales.  So are celebrity endorsements loosing their sheen or do we need to reinvent the way we use them?

Celebrity endorsements have been favoured for a long time due to the fact they make us believe we can have it all. They connect us emotionally with the celebrity and we desire to be just like them. Celebrities can also become synonymous with the brand they represent- take George Clooney and Nespresso for example.  If someone asked you for a George Clooney coffee machine you would know exactly what they mean.

Celebrities today have millions of followers which are easily accessed and influenced on a mass scale especially through social networking mediums such as Twitter and Facebook. These consumers look to their favourite celebrities for product advice because they are known, trusted and respected. Celebrities such as Charlie Sheen in particular have utilised their social networking sites to promote and advertise products.


There are uncertainties that come with using celebrity endorsements however. Investing in a celebrity is always riskier than investing in an unknown person. They can often do more harm to your brand than good. For example we all remember when Britney Spears was paid to endorse Coca Cola and was caught publicly drinking rival brand Pepsi. Similarly when a celebrity’s personal life is in question, your brand too can be brought into question. A recent example of this can been seen with Tiger Woods who was dropped by several brands and even Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino (of Jersey Shore fame) who was paid by Abercrombie and Fitch to NOT wear their brand.

While the celebrity may get the the awareness desired, a lot of advertisers then fail in three main areas that lead to greater effectiveness -

1) Relevance
2) Desire
3) Information

Companies need to refrain from simply relying on the latest popular celebrity to sell their brand.  As a company you need to understand what your brand is currently known for and what you desire it to be known for. A celebrity endorsement should close this gap through image transfer and achieve your new desired image i.e. the celebrity needs to be a ‘good fit’. Examples of successful celebrity/brand synergy include Jenny Craig and Magda Szubanski, and Progressive Insurance Company and Oprah Winfrey. Both these examples were successful due to their believability and the fact that neither of the celebrities over-pushed the product. In both these cases the awareness was spectacular and the follow through fantastic. Similarly, advertising needs to not just be about the celebrity but also the creative content around which it informs and educates the consumer as to why they should buy the product.

There is still a place in today’s advertising world for celebrity endorsements and if used correctly they can attract big sales to your company. Brands need to continue to be savvy and employ innovative techniques to promote their brands. Product placement in reality television shows such as MasterChef and The Block, along with placement in the music video clips of the latest stars such as Lady Gaga, are becoming increasingly popular. Using tongue-in-cheek humour with celebrity endorsement is another technique your brand can take advantage of. In 2005 Shane Warne signed a lucrative deal with company Messages On Hold. This was ironic as he had just weathered the ignominy of several SMS/text messaging scandals. Messages On Hold’s promotional material quoted Warne as saying “Trust me with this recommendation—I know a thing or two about spin.”
The next step is for brands to become more socially interactive and take advantage of the social networking trends of today and incorporate their celebrity endorsements in that way.

For the full segment check out the video below from The Morning Show.

If you can't veiw the clip use this link - http://youtu.be/pLaf-9A8nGg

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