The Rise of Celebrity Endorsement

David Beckham, Cheryl Cole, Iggy Pop and Uma Thurman are just four of the hundreds of celebrities that have endorsed a product or service. In the most part these endorsements have been successful but there are a few that don’t end so well.

Celebrity endorsements are in no way a new strategy, according to a BBC article Queen Victoria can be traced back to endorsing a medicine patent in the early 19th Century. Endorsements of any kind are an effective way for you to build trust, reputation and brand loyalty by association, but in recent years celebrity endorsement has become big business. Products can range from cars and makeup to windows and doors and often the link between product and celebrity can be rather tenuous, but never the less endorsements are here to stay.

The more popular a celebrity becomes the more ‘valuable’ they are to companies as an endorser. Today popularity is often measured in how many followers someone has on Twitter or Likes on Facebook, but good old fashioned talent like David Beckham’s football skills are still a good basis for popularity. Arguably the ‘hottest’ celebrity of the moment is Lady Gaga, she has entered into an endorsement with Polaroid to boost their image and bring the brand firmly into the future. Although a relatively new deal, rather unexpectedly there is a synergy between GaGa and Polaroid and the relationship seems to be helping Polaroid regain some market share.

Although sometimes the link between celebrity and product is hard to see, the best endorsements are when the celebrity has a strong link with the company. For example Michael Jordan and Nike an association that has lasted for nearly 30 years, is still going strong with new Jordan shoes being released each year with much anticipation. More recently Twiggy has become the face of Marks and Spencers bringing a more glamorous side to the chain and inspiring older women to dress more like the model and singer. Jamie Oliver has also boosted the image of a British chain store with his endorsement of Sainsburys, both Twiggy and Jamie have strong links to their endorsers which is why the partnerships have lasted and become valuable enhancers to the brands.

There are as expected some disasters from celebrity endorsements. Celebrities like everyone else are only human, and they too make mistakes however when they have signed a multimillion pound endorsement deal with a company, the ripples of their mistakes spread wider than just themselves. Some historic endorsement mishaps include the recent downfall of Golf’s golden boy Tiger Woods. When his multiple affairs and car crash hit the headlines Woods was immediately dropped from his deals with General Motors and Gatorade quickly followed by Gillette and Nike. His infidelity and recklessness had ruined his own reputation and his endorsers didn’t want to be tarred with the same brush. Similarly when Kate Moss was pictured on the front of The Daily Mirror taking cocaine both H&M and Channel ended their relationship with the model. Large organisations like Gillette and Channel cannot afford to be associated with celebrities’ bad behaviour. In time though both of these celebrities have ‘cleaned up’ their acts and have entered into new endorsement deals as their popularity has risen, Kate Moss may even be doing better with her own clothing range in Top Shop and Rimmel endorsement deals.

There are some do’s and don’ts to celebrity endorsements:

Do make sure there is a link between the celebrity you are associating with. If you want the endorsement to be successful and have longevity use a celebrity that fits in with your brand’s vision and reputation.

Do monitor the endorsement. If you can spot early on your celebrity wavering in popularity or any drastic changes in behaviour, it’s better to end your association before you find your celebrity on the front of the paper.

Don’t jump on the band wagon with a celebrity, try to choose a someone that doesn’t already have associations with other brands.

Don’t rely solely on celebrity endorsement. If you don’t have an already good brand identity using a celebrity isn’t going to improve that.

As long as the world is obsessed by fame and celebrity, celebrity endorsement is here to stay. This is in no way a bad thing, as long as organisations choose the right celebrities for their brands and celebrities behave themselves endorsement deals are good business. It’s a risky investment, but if you get it right the benefits can be huge on the flip side if you get it wrong it can be very detrimental especially for an established brand. Ultimately you need to make the decision whether using a celebrity is the right thing for your brand.

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5 thoughts on “The Rise of Celebrity Endorsement

  1. Great post! Your tips on celebrity selection and management of the endorsement is well thought out. I look forward to more great posts.

    • Lisa that is very true, I also think that for the organisations employing the celebrities it is the positive association and inherited value that the celebrities can bring to their brands that is a major factor.

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