Celebrity Endorsement Deals Almost Always A Bad Deal For Brands

from the people-don't-care-about-celebrities dept

A new research report claims that celebrity endorsements in the form of TV commercials are almost always a bad deal for the brand. The study covered every nationally televised ad in the first 11 months of 2010 — and saw that ones with celebrities underperformed other types of ads, often drastically. On average, celebrity ads had a negative “lift,” while non-celebrity ads did much better. Of course, you can hide a lot of details in aggregate numbers, and part of it might just be that the celebrity ads were done poorly. It’s possible that a good celebrity ad can still be effective, but what seems clear is that “just add a celebrity” does not help at all. The study’s authors posit that consumers don’t care as much about celebrity endorsements in these social networking days:

Today’s consumer is a totally different animal than the consumer of even five years ago, meaning that what was effective and influential five years ago is not necessarily so today, as today’s consumer is more likely to be influenced by someone in their social network than a weak celebrity connection. Today’s consumer is informed, time-compressed, and difficult to impress, and they are only influenced by ads that are relevant and provide information. They don’t want to have products pushed at them, even from a celebrity. In fact, the data show that relevance and information attributes were key missing ingredients from most celebrity ads.

I’m not sure I completely buy that. After all, celebrities are some of the most popular people to follow or friend on social networks. I think it may be more a case of poor utilization of celebrities, where the endorsements are seen (reasonably and accurately) as being fake, rather than sincere. I think when a celebrity really does like a product and then also agrees to do an endorsement, those can be effective. But a pure “let’s put this celebrity with this product” sort of thing is quickly dismissed as inauthentic.

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Comments on “Celebrity Endorsement Deals Almost Always A Bad Deal For Brands”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I’m on the agreeing crowd at the moment.

I don’t believe in celebrities endorsing anything, not even when they appear truthful.

I don’t like them to be honest, they all appear to be self-centered and trying to grab attention anyway they can and that turns me off. Specially musicians in today’s world.

Now one thing I did pay attention and I think still works is secondary placement inside a story or interview, people look at how celebrities are dressed and people try to emulate them.

Wow a lot of “I”‘s there.

t0r0 says:

which celebs? which ads?

depends a lot on which Celeb and what they define as a celeb.
I mean does this include chuck norris doing the home gym late night ad?
Other semi-celebs or has-been really aren’t going to help that much.
Also what are they basing “success” on? cost of making the ad vs. results? how many people said they purchased the product because the ad featured a celeb?
seems to me it would be pretty tough to nail this stuff down properly.

I do say I have to agree with the conclusion that celeb endorsement means less now than it did previously but there is a whole lot more celeb worship in the media now a days than there was previously. Seems every new channel devotes time to what brad and angelina are up to when previously it was mostly just the checkout counter gossip rags. Guess that did start to change in the 90s with hard copy and Entertainment tonight and the like but they were fringe and not being covered on CNN/Fox/MSNBC in the regular rotation.

Jay says:

I have to agree

Kim Kardashian and the debit card debacle

Dr Dre’s Dr. Pepper

I don’t have a lot, but it seems that there is evidence of things coming together that truly make no sense.

I mean seriously, Kardashian is a socialite! Why should you be having ANYTHING to do with her and finances? And while Dr. Dre is good with music, what is the point with Dr. Pepper?

Not that there aren’t a few that make sense such as Tiger Woods before his breakdown. It’s just that it does seem accurate that ads with a pinch of celebrity status are going down the wrong direction.

kyle clements (profile) says:

relevance is key

I find relevance and authenticity key to a good celebrity endorsement.

One time where a celebrity endorsement worked for me was an interview with Trent Reznor, where he listed some of the programs and filters he used to get certain guitar sounds. I dabble with guitar, and I really liked those sounds, so I purchased a copy of that VST.

If he were pushing one brand of cola over another, I wouldn’t have cared, since I don’t think of him as a cola expert, so his opinion there means nothing to me. But when a celebrity is explaining how they did something, what tools they used, that is a meaningful endorsement.

Rose M. Welch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I worked in a book store when she endorsed Million Little Pieces, which is a very lurid account of a drug addict’s recovery. We had so many elderly Southern Baptist Republicans coming in for that book solely because Oprah chose it for her ‘book club’. I cringe to think of what their reactions were when they read it.

Mike C. (profile) says:

Re: Re:

With regard to Twitter, I think it depends on the celebrity. Some are in it for themselves (the aforementioned 50 cent), some are in it for self-promotion (Steve Martin and his occasional plugs for events or his music) and some are in it to promote but also communicate and share (Wil Wheaton). As kyle clements says above, authenticity and relevance can make a big difference and if advertisers paid attention to that, their ads would likely be a lot more effective.

FormerAC (profile) says:

Over saturation

Thirty years ago Michael Jordan advertising for Nike meant a huge boost in sales for those sneakers. Its gotta be the shoes! Fifteen years later you had half a dozen basketball players pushing their own brands. Whatever impact the star labeling might have had was diluted. Now? Does anyone care if the shoes carry an athlete’s name or endorsement?

Today we are over saturated with ads. We have ads on TV, on radio, on the internet. We have ads on our smart phones and even ads on the ATM machines. I find myself intentionally avoiding products that are heavily advertised.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Over saturation

“I find myself intentionally avoiding products that are heavily advertised.”

I sorta do that too. There were surveys that said that most people (and doctors) claim that they are unaffected by ads but that statistics show that more ads mean more people buy the product. IOW, people are unconsciously affected by ads. So, to counter this affect I either mute the T.V. / radio during an ad (and often step/look away) or consciously avoid heavily advertised products to some degree. I don’t watch that much T.V. anyways, every once in a while I do, mostly if other people are watching something and I’m watching with them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Over saturation

Besides, heavily advertised products often yell “scam.” The product can’t sell on its merits and so it must sell through advertising.

“Today we are over saturated with ads. We have ads on TV, on radio, on the internet. We have ads on our smart phones and even ads on the ATM machines.”

From the book No Logo (written in 2000)

“Even branding evangelist Tom Peters acknowledges that there is such a thing as too much brand, and impossible though it is to predict when we will reach that point, when we
pass it, it will be unmistakable. … MTV founder Tom
Freston, the man who made marketing history by turning a television station into a brand, admitted in June 1998 that “you can beat a brand to death.”

“Maybe there is a moment when the idea of branding reaches a saturation point and the backlash is directed not at a product that suddenly finds itself on the wrong side of a fad but at the multinationals behind the brands.”

For a book written in 2000, this book makes a lot of very good predictions (ie: about the shifting information structure from one of a centralized structure to the more decentralized one we currently have). It was somewhat apparent in 2000 and was already happening but this book made good predictions about where it would continue to go.

KGWagner (profile) says:

Lack of authority

Ads have become so ubiquitous, I’ve developed severe ad blindness. In fact, the very existence of an ad exists tends to drive me away from a product or service and since they’re wasting my time I take measures to reduce my exposure to them as much as possible.

But, assuming I’m forced to see and ad, nothing reduces its effectiveness more than a celebrity endorsement or aggravating presentation. Hollywood’s denizens are fakers by design and intent. Sports players aren’t the brightest pennies in the fountain, corporate lights have hidden agendas, and politicians are a combination of all the above. Getting George Clooney, Tiger Woods, Bill Gates or Nancy Pelosi to say something is a Good Thing only serves to take it off my list of choices should I need the type of product or service they’re hawking.

Anonymous Coward says:

Celebrities are simply actors, kinda like Ronald Reagan, he acted like a great president. Do you honestly think I will reverse mortgage my home just because Robert Wagner says so. Did he reverse mortgage his home? If not, then who needs him. The only celebrity ad I trusted was the Bionic Ear because I believed Lee Majors actually wore one. The rest of them are just actors that make their living acting and if they are no good they don’t work.

Bruce womack says:

Reverse mortgage, celebrity endorsement

I,m sure the only one who really comes out on these types of programs is the lender with the continued government innovative meddling.

What’s of more interest is the the net results of how much the homeowner actually receives over the term of the RM, the amount paid on average to the celebrity spokesperson and the amount the mortgage company receives at closing, ie government subsidy.

Mel Nat (profile) says:

Hopefully they get a reverse mortgage explained to them.

This post could be true, but when you see advertisers spending the kind of money it takes to advertise on TV for reverse mortgages, it makes sense to me that they are making money.

So using celebrity endorsements must work. Also, we can not blame the companies from doing this, especially in this economy.

But we can only hope that when someone contacts them, they are helpful and provide quality information.

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