The celebrity endorsement has been a tool in the advertiser’s toolbox since the first radio and television stars were born in the ’30s and ’40s, and endorsements have only become more prevalent over the years. Though the FTC has strict rules that require the endorsing celebrity to have actually used the product in order to endorse it, consumers aren’t blind—they know that celebrities get paid big bucks to promote brands. The question advertisers have to ask is, “Is it worth it to me to compensate a famed movie star, musician, athlete, or other celebrity to promote my product?” At first blush, you would presume that, with so many brands being endorsed by celebrities, it must help increase sales…right?
Hold your horses, Mr. Ed. Before you shell out the big dollars to get Jennifer Lopez or Michael Phelps to push your product, take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of celebrity endorsements:
- Increases brand awareness and recall. Consider Michael Jordan’s sneakers. Before he even had his own label, those sneakers were known as “Jordans”.
- Increases publicity surrounding the product. The stars of Sex and the City endorsed Manolo Blahnik shoes, and brought attention to the brand by featuring them in the show.
- Establishes credibility. If the consumer likes the celebrity, they are more likely to believe what he or she says about the product.
- Expense. Obviously, this is relative to the size of the advertising budget, but any way you slice the Wonder Bread, it’s pricey.
- Risking the brand’s image. A celebrity’s reputation can tarnish the brand’s image. When Michael Vick was first accused of being involved in dogfighting, brands he endorsed immediately felt the backlash of outraged consumers.
- The celebrity can outshine the brand. This can especially happen if there is a mismatch between the celebrity and the brand image.
A celebrity endorsement can help amplify the effects of a campaign, but you should always exercise caution when deciding to use a celebrity. The key element to consider is if the celebrity fits the brand image and is someone with whom your target audience can identify. Sometimes hiring an unknown and turning that person into a brand character can be a better fit for your business, just think of Flo from the current Progressive Insurance television campaign.
If you are considering hiring a celebrity spokesperson or building a unique brand character, Strategic Marketing can help you design and execute the perfect endorsement strategy. Call Strategic Marketing today at (561) 688-8155.