08 Apr Celebrity Endorsements
Celebrity endorsements are nothing new. We often see up and coming or well known public figures jump on board a product to promote it and themselves. Overall, it isn’t a very special technique, there’s no need to appeal to our humor or nostalgia, celebrities are not trying to scare us into buying a product or brand, they are merely associating themselves with something to say ‘this product is okay.’ Even so, audiences are aware that a celebrities or sport stars likeness for said product is helped by a nice injection to their bank accounts and not a personal preference. Yet this is an extremely effective advertising technique in promotional video, Brisbane and beyond. Audiences are not mindless enough to believe that every public figure that pastes their name to a product does so because they are unconditionally loyal to it, yet they trust their icons. And if it’s good enough for Jennifer Lopez it’s good enough for me.
For some reason modern audiences are fascinated by celebrities and for decades advertising has taken advantage of that fascination. We have magazines and TV shows devoted to their personal lives so why wouldn’t we be interested in what sneakers they wear to what perfume they use. To elaborate on this I’d like to reference a book called “Celeb Sells” written by a chap with the delightful name of Jeffery Pringle. Old mate Pringle has a theory he likes to call “the era of consent.” Which is basically the idea that modern audiences choose what advertisements affects them. After years of being bombarded with advertising, audiences have created filters to block out advertisements that are irrelevant or boring. This ‘filter’ ranges from simply mentally tuning out when the ads come on during the Simpsons to actively skipping over them with TiVo. Audiences have become so use to being bombarded with advertisements that advertising agencies have to work harder and harder to break these automatic walls down and be seen amongst the crowd.
So how do advertisers survive the ‘era of consent’? They bring in someone who already has our attention. Someone we trust and feel comfortable with, someone credible and reliable. No, it’s not mum; it’s a celebrity that you’ve probably never have or will meet. And if you have met them, congratulations, good for you, but enough about you, back to asking tricky questions about endorsements. Such as, why does a celebrity brushing their teeth have more power over an audience than the faceless dentist of the Colgate ads? The answer: because audiences let them.
‘In establishing the necessary customer trust and credibility it seems likely that celebrities, who themselves have a high standing in the public eye, could be one of the more powerful tools for brands in gaining the necessary customer permission’.
“Give me an example!” You say. Sure thing, Jenniffer Hawkins and Mt Franklin Water, Tiger Woods and Nike, Justin Bieber and ProActive, and the list goes on (especially for Proactive). Then you get the endorsers who aren’t loyal to just one product. Try walking through a beauty section of any major cosmetics store with a friend and see who can find the most pictures of Emma Stone, hours of fun I ensure! One of my other personal favorites is Kim Kardashian. That woman will advertise anything if you give her a pay check. Shoes, perfume, makeup, diet pills, mastercards, restaurants even portable restrooms (I’m not even joking, look it up).
What’s great is that you don’t even need to show the entire celebrity in the ad. Take Chanel No. 5’s latest advertisement. It got people talking not only because it was the first Chanel advertisement to have a male representative instead of a female, but Mr. Brad ohthatbody Pitt was paid $7 million dollars and we barely saw his face. For an even better example let’s look back to those McDonald ads Shane Warne did a year ago. Warney was always out of focus, in the back ground and actively protesting that he should be more involved in the advertisement. McDonalds clearly believed that their burger was more important than Warney. They’d taken the celebrities consent out of the ‘era of consent,’ very clever, very funny. But McDonalds have always been very clever advertisers. Man I’m hungry.
This isn’t a one off anymore; the popularity of endorsements is growing. The amount of advertisements with celebrity endorsements has more than doubled over the last twenty years (approx 1 in 5 advertisements has a celebrity endorser) so when push comes to shove, does it work? One survey by GMI Inc found 30 % of European and US shoppers said they would be more likely to buy a product which came with a celebrity endorsement. This still leaves 70% unaffected by the endorser’s presence, which is a pretty big hole to burn in your pocket. And when its $7 million on Brad Pitt, that’s a “This could feed an entire third world for 7 years” sized hole. So why is it so popular?
Ioiana, a blogger who I have become quite partial to for this article, suggests that perhaps it’s not the amount of a product that is sold that earns the endorsers paycheck, but the buzz they create.
“It’s measured by how many people know about the brand as a result of the endorsement and what they associate it with. Maybe endorsements are all about the buzz-the buzz generated by the celebrity endorsement.”
I’m not going to rush out and hire a portable restroom, but thanks to Kim Kardashian, I am aware that there is type of portable restroom in America called Charmin for hire if ever I need one. And to make it even more special, I can satisfy myself with the fact that I wipe my bottom with the same type of toilet paper as Kim. All this and I haven’t even seen the advertisement. Kudos Charmin!
Chances are that, although we aren’t going to run out and buy something just because a celebrity is slapped on it, we will notice that product a little bit more on the shelf because we recognize the endorser. The success of the endorsement lies not only in the amount sold, but in the association created with the product and how many people now know about it as a result of the endorsement. If we’re not sure about a product, we may be inclined to go for an item that a public figure has assigned their reputation to. And if a glamorous woman endorses a toilet, I may be inclined to write about it.
Of course these products can have the opposite effects. Someone may love the smell of a perfume but refuse to wear something endorsed by Teenybopper Justin Bieber. This is exactly what happened when Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino, from the massively popular reality TV series Jersy Shore, started flashing his Abercrombie and Fitch Co. branded underwear. A&F became so concerned that the image The Situation was portraying could scare away customers they offered Mr. Sorrentino a substantial amount to wear an alternate brand. In a statement A&F declared “We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes, but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand…” The A&F Chief Executive Mike Jeffries admits that although there was a serious concern about the defacement of their brand, the attention and support they have received has been a big marketing tool. “We’re having a lot of fun with it,” he admitted in a recent interview. MTV, Jersey Shores broadcaster, saw right through the ploy, pointing out that A&F have a tendency to run controversial campaigns. “It’s a clever PR stunt and we’d love to work with them on other ways they can leverage Jersey Shore to reach the largest youth audience on television,” Good for Jersey Shore but let’s discuss our home grown celebrities and the products they endorse.
Here in Australia have our typical class A endorsers such Huge Jackman dancing while drinking a Lipton tea, and our stunning Nichol Kidman and her elegant Channel advertisements. But look a little closer to home and you’ll find we average a higher number of sports stars rather than celebrities for local endorsements. NRMA uses Shane Webcke to drive us common folk around to advertise a car insurance policy that is not afraid to let people drive cars. Any number of our 20/20 cricket players can be seen tucking into a bucket of KFC chicken, and our socceroo’s pop up on playing cards in our weetbix boxes. In fact we love our sporting celebrities so much its unhealthy for us. Recent research undertaken by Cancer Council Victoria showed that when tested using mock-up versions of popular foods, parents showed they were easily swayed by sporting celebrity endorsements than healthy alternatives. Jane Martin form the Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) commented on why we Aussies are so easily blinded by a good looking sportsman. “There is no doubt that these associations with sport do convey attributes of heath and people are swayed by them.” It is celebrity endorsement at its best; a consumer see’s a celebrity on a cereal packet and automatically believes that if it is nutritional enough for a sports star, it’s nutritional enough for their little beaus, no scrutiny needed.
So bubbling down to the core of this article, does endorsement work? You bet. And it works well. If it doesn’t immediately sell a product it at least creates an association, trust and a ‘buzz.’ Endorsements by the right (or wrong) public figures help products stand out in our advertisement crowded lives and break down the barriers of the ‘age of consent.’
A side note about one of my favorite endorsers:
Have you ever been watching a movie, say Ironman for example, and realized that you really enjoy drinking Coke-a-cola? Then after watching the second movie also realized that you enjoy Coke Zero and Diet Coke? Well then chances are that after watching Ironman 3 you’re going to love Coke Caffeine Free and remember how much you hate Pepsi. Coincidence? I think not. Have a look at Ironman’s suits of amour and you might just notice that either Tony Stark gets his inspiration from his favorite soft drink or, as I’m willing to bet, Marvel was given a truckload of money and a free flowing river of Coke for the set. I also love the little Pepsi flourish the bad guy has on his amour.
Dalley, Ellise. “Celebrity endorsements – CHOICE .” Compare products and find independent product reviews with Choice.com.au – CHOICE, 12 Oct. 2011. Web 20 Mar. 2013. <http://www.choice.com.au/blog/2012/october/celebrity%20endorsements.aspx>.
Holmes, Elizabeth. “Jersey Shore: Abercrombie and Fitch Offers to Pay ‘The Situation’ To Stop Wearing Its Clothes – Speakeasy – WSJ.” 16 Aug. 2011. Web 20 Mar. 2013. <http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2011/08/16/abercrombie-and-fitch-offer-to….
L, Ioiana. “What’s the point.” Celebrity Endorsements Blog. Version, 23 Feb. 2007. Web.20 Mar. 2013. <http://ilunchprstudentlondon.blogspot.com.au/>.
Rose, Danny. “Parents swayed by sports star endorsements.” Breaking News. N.p., 15 Feb. 2011. Web 20 Mar. 2013. <http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/parents-swayed-by-sports-s….
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