Celebrity Marketing: A Tight Line to Walk

Would you rather buy a pair of sneakers for yourself endorsed by an unknown, unfamiliar face, or by basketball legend Michael Jordan , ...

celebrity marketing strategy

Would you rather buy a pair of sneakers for yourself endorsed by an unknown, unfamiliar face, or by basketball legend Michael Jordan, or football superstar Ronaldinho. Research shows that your chances are more likely to be swayed by a well-known popular celebrity endorsing for that pair of sneakers about whom you have developed opinions and a large view, than by an unknown face, however expert she is shoe usage or business, about whom you know nothing at all and are not able to relate with. If the celebrity’s image and persona is positive one in your mind, this will work immensely for the product or the brand you are thinking about, and will channel your purchase decision in its favour.

This is the insight which most of the advertisers executives and marketing leaders depend on while planning the campaigns for particular brand. Almost 20% of the total advertising, including television commercials, print ads, etc. features famous people. However, roping in a celebrity for your endorsement is a hugely beneficial but risky proposition. Not any celebrity endorsement can ensure rise in sales or brand visibility. There are both positive and negative aspects of using celebrities in advertisement, aspects which are deeply entrenched in consumer psychology and purchase behavior.

The use of celebrities to sell products isn’t a new phenomenon. It has been in use since 1930s and with the growing reach and influence of advertising on our day-to-day purchase decisions and consumption, the potential of using famous personalities to sell products and establish brands has increased by leaps and bounds. Marketing using celebrities and established popular faces enhances the appeal of the advertisement, and the product offered, to a great extent. When celebrities endorse a product or a brand, they bring their own charisma and values to the brand, making it all the more attractive to people. Famous people have been excellent salespersons for a huge number of brands worldwide since long. Brands have benefited immensely associating with popular icons in the field of music, sports, movies, etc. When a widely loved actor, or an athlete, endorses a product, the product immediately gets a great amount of credibility.

Celebrities usually endorse products in two broad ways, either explicitly or implicitly. Some marketing campaigns are designed to clearly suggest that the celebrity featured personally uses the product and enjoys it. Others take a different route by involving the face and identity of the celebrity to the brand and  build on the reputation and credibility which the celebrity brings in, rather than the celebrity directly endorsing the products.

The tricky part is to associate the right celebrity with the right brand, and place them in the right place and context. Marketing leaders choose celebrities very carefully by matching the public image and persona of the celebrity to the values and message brand wants to communicate. If the combination has been done well, it will lead to huge benefits in terms of sales and profits for the brand and will change the public perception of the brand to a large measure. If done without the foresight and necessary homework, it may ruin the brand overnight.

Working with celebrities who are prominent public figures and whose lives are constantly under public gaze and media scrutiny, advertising and marketing leaders run on a tight rope. There are many examples of how a successful partnership of brand with a celebrity has blossomed over a long time with huge benefits, and also of the brands who had to pay heavily for the eccentricities or perceived incorrect behavior of the celebrities associated with them.

One outstanding example of a hugely successful celebrity endorsement of a brand is of Michael Jordan and Nike. The reputation, values and credibility which came in a big way to Nike by associating with Michael Jordan has paid so well for decades that a new associate sports company of Nike was formed Air Jordan which is hugely successful.

One very important example of how a celebrity’s personal conduct and perceived public image may hugely influence a brand’s fortunes is of Tiger Wood's episode. Nike teamed up with Tiger Woods successfully for decades until Tiger’s personal life situations came out in open, turning public opinion against him and damaging his reputation. This had its severe affect on the brand Nike making it lose millions of dollars in the market.

So celebrity endorsement is a significant tool in the advertising bag of tricks, but has to be used very carefully and intelligently.

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Celebrity Marketing: A Tight Line to Walk
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