By Andy Copland
The key to good celebrity endorsement is finding the face your target audience will respond to. Having someone like Peter Kay advertise the health benefits of a certain brand of wheat bran cereal would be a poor choice for obvious reasons. However, if Dame Kelly Holmes was chosen to endorse the brand, the campaign would most likely be a success.
Like the sharp PR people that we are, we have to ask ourselves a question. In our social media-dominated world, do celebrities still have the same advertising power as they used to?
It may be easier and more efficient for companies to create advertising campaigns through Twitter, using a well calculated hashtag, than to pay a celebrity annually for one or two uninspired tweets a month.
Celebrity endorsements are risky and also need to be regulated carefully. Just last year professional footballers Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshire came under scrutiny after it seemed they had been promoting Nike’s ‘Make it Count’ campaign. Whilst it was later decided that their tweets were not misleading, the case raises questions about how effective social media celebrity endorsements can be.
Endorsements are a huge gamble for companies. Picking the wrong face person can be extremely detrimental, and may show poor decision making skills or lack of strategy. If a celebrity’s image is damaged, this can easily leak onto the brands the celebrity is endorsing.
Celebrity scandals from Tiger Woods to Lance Armstrong can have catastrophic consequences on a brand. Sometimes, even if the company reacts swiftly, sales levels drop and the brand is tarnished.
The age of interconnectivity and social media has left very few things hidden. Everything a celebrity does is out there for the world to see. This might be part of the reason why the age of celebrity endorsement is slowly fading. Instead, companies have been turning to bloggers and even their own customers to advertise their products, without spending huge budgets on celebrity endorsements.
I suppose it all comes down to who influences you. Many people find the word of Kim Kardashian to be incredibly helpful and may shape their image and behaviour based on her advice. In turn, celebrities risk their reputation every time they plug a product. While some reputations are harder to disrupt than others, celebrities may deserve some praise for sticking their necks out. Although it’s not like they’re doing it for charity most of the times.
Companies understand the marketing power that celebrities have within their Twitter account. That’s why not all brands will be in a rush to let go of this sometimes successful branch of advertising in favour of a relatively risky strategy based on boosting product awareness through mass advertising via hashtags.
Even though more and more people seem to become famous nowadays, the power of the celebrity seems to be waning, at least when it comes to endorsement. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that companies won’t keep trying to use the next Big Brother contestant to sell their vacuum cleaner. You never know, Peter Kay may endorse a certain type of bran breakfast cereal after all.