When it comes to advertising, businesses need as much help as they can get to ensure their product becomes known in the target markets. Doing this is not always as easy as it sounds, and this is why businesses turn to some well-known strategies to make it happen. One of these strategies is celebrity endorsements. We have all seen ads that feature celebrities, and the thinking is that if the celebrity has a serious following that uses your products, their endorsement could result in a serious boost to sales, brand recognition and more. But is a celebrity endorsement worth it?
Celebrity endorsements is a marketing or branding campaign that involves using a well-known celebrity or person’s fame to help promote your products and services. A good example is Superbowl ads where different companies use celebrities to tell the audience about a specific product or service.
There are various ways of getting a celebrity to endorse a product and service. All of them involve some kind of cash exchange and a legal agreement. These agreements are often structured in such a way that it produces a win-win outcome for the celebrity and the business that uses the celebrity’s influence to sell products and services.
Do note that businesses distinguish between getting celebrities to advertise their products and getting them to endorse the products. In the former, everything about the campaign is controlled by the company needing the endorsement while in the latter a celebrity has more liberty on what to say and do, but they have to stay within set rules and guidelines.
Celebrity endorsements are meant to achieve two things; increase the reputation or credibility of a product or service, and get more people to look at your product and services. The endorsement usually involves hiring a celebrity who has a good reputation and some relationship with the product.
People trust and are attracted to their favorite celebrities. If they endorse and use a product, it is an indication that the product can be trusted and is worth using. Also seeing a celebrity use a product or service signals that it is of a high enough quality. The reasoning is that a celebrity would not endorse a product or service of poor quality and risk their fame and reputation.
The second reason why businesses use celebrity endorsements is that they help brands stand out. They can help differentiate your business from your competitors and improve the memorability of your ad campaign. This is especially true for celebrities who maintain a clean image and who stay in the minds of their fans for a long time.
Third, celebrity endorsements help introduce a brand to new markets. A great example is how Nike uses sports personalities and celebrities to get into new markets. For example, they partnered with Michael Jordan and Eliud Kipchoge when they were looking for a way to get into the track and field markets. Both partnerships have been so successful that Nike now has a very strong hold on the individual markets they were targeting.
The reason why businesses must be careful when looking for celebrities to endorse their products is that not all celebrity endorsements work. One of the reasons for this is that celebrity images can change. When a brand decides to get into such an arrangement with a celebrity, it means they are accepting everything that comes with the celebrity. This means any negative associations with the celebrity rub off on the brand and can harm or destroy it. Think of brands dropping celebrities because they want to distance themselves after a scandal surfaces.
The second reason is that celebrities can overshadow the brands they are supposed to be “representing”. This happens when the celebrity is so big that people focus more on them rather than the products they endorse. This is a problem especially in cases where endorsements lean too heavily on the celebrity’s person and personality rather than the product or service being endorsed. It can also be a problem where a celebrity endorses more than one product where they end up being associated with a completely different product.
Lastly, endorsements can be very expensive. Getting a celebrity to endorse or be the face of a product or service takes some serious money and can be out of reach or even devastating for businesses unable to pay the amount required. It is therefore important that businesses look at what they stand to gain before signing any contracts to ensure the cost would be worth it.
Inmar Intelligence, a company that helps businesses increase their retail intelligence and market share through innovative advertising, has researched the subject of celebrity endorsements. Their research has primarily focused on celebrity vs peer influence. After surveying more than 1500 consumers, they found that only 3% of people are actually influenced by celebrities while 34% of the respondents were likely to buy a product or service because of a peer recommendation.
This is a serious disparity, especially for businesses that do not need the brand recognition celebrities bring in but rather the sales they can influence. So, what can businesses do?
Influencer marketing is often seen as the alternative to celebrity endorsements. This is because most influencers are cheaper to hire than celebrities, have in-built audiences, and are seen as more authentic by their followers. This is because they are seen as peers and are respected as such. Because of this, their recommendations are often taken more seriously than those coming from celebrities.
Additionally, many people do not view influencers as being “owned” by companies. They believe their opinions are genuine and truthful, and this is why they are a lot more likely to believe them.
Is getting celebrity endorsements worth it? It depends. If a business has the cash, can find the right celebrity, and can get into a win-win arrangement, celebrity endorsements can be worth it. However, businesses that are not in this position are better served by utilizing word-of-mouth, influencer marketing, and other marketing strategies that involve peer endorsements and recommendations.