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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2011 @ 10:27pm

    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.

     

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  2.  
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    Zacqary Adam Green (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 10:27pm

    If advertisers believe that the average person is well-informed and difficult to impress even if they're wrong and it's not true I'd say that's a net gain for society.

     

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  3.  
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    t0r0, Jan 17th, 2011 @ 10:50pm

    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.

     

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  4.  
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    Jay (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 10:57pm

    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.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2011 @ 11:01pm

    There is also the possibility that celebrities who later engage in objectionable behavior (ie: Colby Brian or Tiger Woods) can tarnish a brand name, though that's not really nearly true today as it used to be.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2011 @ 11:03pm

    Re:

    not really nearly as true today *

     

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  7.  
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    Helge, Jan 17th, 2011 @ 11:52pm

    Maybe the (admittedly assumptive) fact that for every celebrity there are more people that do not like him or her than there are people that like him or her, also plays a part.

     

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  8.  
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    kyle clements (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 11:53pm

    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.

     

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  9.  
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    anoncow, Jan 18th, 2011 @ 12:41am

    one word:
    Oprah

    If she even hints she likes a product it sells

     

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  10.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Jan 18th, 2011 @ 12:59am

    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.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2011 @ 2:19am

    I can't take any celebrity's word on anything, even twitter. Remember 50 cent's stock tip. They are all out for themselves. Just like 99% of the population. Anyone will talk up any product for a paycheck.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2011 @ 2:20am

    Re:

    do you mean Kobe Bryant?

     

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  13.  
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    FarmerBob (profile), Jan 18th, 2011 @ 3:22am

    Re: Re:

    No it was 50 Cent actually.

     

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  14.  
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    Liquid (profile), Jan 18th, 2011 @ 3:57am

    It's all about money

    I don't know about you but after seening all the celebrity reality shows, and seeing how they spend their money. I can never see them using the using the products they are endorsing. Knowing that they are getting paid far more than a normal person would make endorsing the same product.

     

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  15.  
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    Haywood (profile), Jan 18th, 2011 @ 4:50am

    Re: It's all about money

    The one that gets me is Henry Winkler endorsing a reverse mortgage scam. He can't need the money that bad. These scams steal what little security seniors have left, for shame.

     

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  16.  
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    Mike C. (profile), Jan 18th, 2011 @ 5:07am

    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.

     

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  17.  
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    FormerAC (profile), Jan 18th, 2011 @ 5:23am

    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.

     

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  18.  
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    KGWagner (profile), Jan 18th, 2011 @ 5:34am

    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.

     

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  19.  
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    Chris in Utah (profile), Jan 18th, 2011 @ 5:52am

    A thougth where it started

    The most notable in history

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CoverGirl

    Was the first thing to come to mind on this story. Your article is food for thought Mike but this maybe historically significant to it.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2011 @ 5:55am

    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.

     

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  21.  
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    cennis (profile), Jan 18th, 2011 @ 7:01am

    Luke is a liar!

    I personally have decided never to watch anything with Luke Wilson in it ever again...AT&T sucks donkey dick.

     

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  22.  
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    redrum, Jan 18th, 2011 @ 7:13am

    Re: Re: It's all about money

    Yeah, and how about Montel pitching those payday loans? Talk about a career taking a dump. Do you know how bad those places screw people? I just can't believe he needs that money that badly.

     

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  23.  
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    robphelan (profile), Jan 18th, 2011 @ 7:24am

    I think it really depends

    on the product and actor. For instance, the wife and I thought the Kevin Bacon ad for the Logitech Revue (?) was clever.

    It was a tongue-in-cheek approach that i thought worked well. I believe that if more advertisements poked fun at themselves, it would go a long way for their image

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2011 @ 7:54am

    Re: Re:

    You are right.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2011 @ 7:55am

    "Celebrity Endorsement"

    What's a celebrity again?

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2011 @ 8:00am

    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.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2011 @ 8:20am

    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.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2011 @ 10:23am

    Re: I have to agree

    Thanks for posting that Dre spot. Now I appreciate not watching TV commercials that much more! Cutting the cord FTW!!

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    Re: Re: Re: It's all about money

    Don't forget Ed McMann and Mr. T pitching the cash for gold guys...

     

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  30.  
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    nasch (profile), Jan 18th, 2011 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re:

    What happened after she blasted him for making up half of it?

     

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  31.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Jan 18th, 2011 @ 1:04pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    People had already purchased the book, so nothing happened.

    I mean, we put up a sign telling people they could bring it back in for a full refund, per the publisher, but no one did.

     

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  32.  
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    Bruce womack, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 6:12am

    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.

     

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  33.  
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    Mel Nat, Jun 12th, 2012 @ 8:54am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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