A few months back, I attended a conference in the Philippines and one of the speakers presented on the power of word of mouth marketing. I am a big fan of that but the speaker went on to share how he believed that “celebrity endorsement does not work!”.
This is a question a lot of marketers ask. There are also many thoughts around this question.
In a New York Times article, the journalist wrote about “How nothing sells like celebrity”
Using celebrities for promotion is hardly new. Film stars in the 1940s posed for cigarette companies, and Bob Hope pitched American Express in the late 1950s. Joe Namath slipped into Hanes pantyhose in the 1970s, and Bill Cosby jiggled for Jell-O for three decades. Sports icons like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods elevated the practice, often scoring more in endorsement and licensing dollars than from their actual sports earnings.
The speaker at the event showed a bus ad of Rain (a popular korean singer) endorsing a hair product and he went on to ask the audience, “how many of you believe that Rain actually use this product?” It is a valid question. I am not sure if I believed Rain does.
I asked my girlfriends (who are in marcomm and PR) what they think over coffee, and as usual, we all have very different views. The thoughts ranged from “depending on who the celebrity is” to “depending on whether the celebrity and the product are ‘believable’. My ex-colleague believes in celebrity slimming campaigns if she can see the before and after results. And interestingly enough, my best friend, Yen who is currently doing her Master degree in Marketing Communications also thinks that celebrity slimming endorsement works for her.
Jonathan, my other half thinks that celebrity endorsement works only for certain brands, mostly for awareness building, for example Maria Sharapova endorsing the the Canon Powershot cameras caught his attention.
GeekSugar.com posted the top 10 celebrity gadget endorsements that works and created awareness but not necessary resulted in purchase.
For me, while I agree with the speaker at the conference about the lack of credibility of Rain using the cheap hair care product he endorses, I disagree that celebrity endorsement doesn’t work. I think it does. It depends on the objectives. Objectives of the campaign, the image and message the brand or product needs to communicate and what exactly does the celebrity has to do
My good friend, Walter Lim blogged about similar topic some while back – on VISA’s celebrity ad for the Olympic. Walter’s post was looking at effective ads and the celebrity they used. The ad was effective for VISA because it is a good ad or was it because it has Jackie Chan’s endorsement? Maybe both.
For me? It is about association. If i can associate a brand with the celebrity, it works for me. Kiera Knightley as the face for Chanel caught my attention and i could associate the product, brand and the celebrity together.
I am going to leave other thoughts to next post. Anyone believes celebrity endorsement is completely a waste of marketing/ PR dollars?