The Effects of the Celebrity Endorsement

Celebrities are now, more than ever before, an essential part of capturing and holding the modern consumer’s attention. It’s a simple, undeniable, widely accepted theory: Celebrities Sell. For this reason, it makes perfect sense that using a celebrity to advertise many products and services could be an easy, yet impactful way to maximize a campaign’s effectiveness, produce stronger connections with consumers and, in the end, increase sales. But with brands sometimes making an investment upwards of $50 billion, in an age where we’re constantly bombarded with new advertisements, products and technology at every turn, is the celebrity endorsement worth it?

Advertising strategies play on human nature, which defaults to the familiar. Consumers prefer and are drawn to what they know rather than what they don’t. Celebrities have become such influential role models for their target market that they are able to position a product and guarantee it fits in with current social trends. Companies must select the right celebrity for their brand; someone who has broad appeal, who creates a buzz and who is likeable. They have to be a great fit or have some expertise or connection with your product, lending credibility to their endorsement.

However, using celebrities in advertising is not without its risks and disadvantages. Over the years, the consumer has become smarter, time-constricted and not as easily charmed.  Not only do they really want to be sure that the celebrity selling to them is trustworthy, they want to believe that they actually use the product as well.  For example, if Beyonce is endorsing Pepsi, they want to know that she actually drinks it, and if David Beckham is selling a “healthier” Burger King, well let’s hope he puts his money where his mouth is. In our current advertising landscape, celebrities are promoting multiple products at a time, which can aggravate consumers causing them to mistrust the endorser and ignore the advertising message altogether. Research has found that people are more likely to be influenced by their own social circle rather than a weak celebrity connection. Another business risk when tying your brand to a single prominent figure is the danger of negative publicity, which can consequently inflict damage on the company’s image. Celebrities are human, and humans make mistakes. The danger of taking on a superstar is that you can’t control that person or their actions. Social media has made it even more challenging for brands to protect their image by increasing the speed of transmission and increasing the number of consumers who will see any misstep or spread negative feedback.

Overall, star power is an undeniable draw and while the impact of celebrity endorsements is a potentially good idea, it is still essential to give attention to every component of an ad in order for it to be a success. Without strong creative messaging that is relevant, informative and creates a desire for the consumer, even the most popular celebrity will have a hard time making a campaign successful. In that respect, celebrity ads will only be effective in the right context.