Does Your Marketing Campaign Need Celebrity Rehab?

Steve Warne talks celebrity endorsements and what it could be worth to you

When celebrities speak, people listen. It’s pretty basic stuff. If you can put a face to a name, people are far more likely to remember that name. Put a famous face to your brand name and the recognition and excitement for your brand is off the charts. It’s been extremely effective for decades.  It’s why marketers happily unload dump trucks full of cash on the doorsteps of celebrity mansions. Some celeb endorsement fees far exceed the salary they draw from their regular jobs.

People love celebrities so much they’ll even buy a product they’re not that excited about, just to feel that connection to them. Frankly, it’s the only way I can even begin to explain bobblehead versions of athletes and celebrities.

Celebrity product endorsement came to the forefront this week as Footlocker hired notorious, retired athletes to appear in a hilarious ad that took just hours to go viral. Here, the brand associates itself with both the positive vibes of comedy and the surprise that these celebrities would so publicly make fun of themselves. Mike Tyson returns Evander Holyfield’s ear?  Unbelievably fantastic stuff.

Now, if you could lend me your ear for a moment, I’ll continue. BOOM, POW! The veal’s over there.

While I am a fan of celebrity endorsements, there are at least 4 ways to mess them up.

Overpaying. If I own a single pizza shop in a small town, it probably doesn’t make sense to hire Lady Ga Ga to endorse my pizza. I’m obviously not big enough with enough national or international reach to recoup my investment. Bear in mind, “Ga Ga ‘Za” remains part of my long term business vision, so don’t get any ideas. Until then, my best game plan is to hire a popular local athlete or celebrity for an appropriate fee. They’re out there and it really will help drive your campaign.

Your celebrity isn’t really famous with your target audience . This can still work if you’ve chosen someone who’s likeable and you plan to use them again and again. By doing so, you create your own celebrity. Canadian Tire does this with some success. You don’t know his actual name but he’s now famous for being “that funny guy from the Canadian Tire ads”.

Your celebrity ends up embroiled in scandal during your campaign. Now your brand is associated with that. Tiger Woods has now rallied nicely from his negative press. But his sponsors quickly scattered when he cheated on his wife with over 120 women. His numbers are coming down now – romantically and on the links. Here’s Tiger bickering with his club head cover.

Choosing a really bad commercial for your celebrity. I think the best recent example of this is Brad Pitt’s goofy Chanel ad. Yes, they put a famous face to their brand. But they also poured ridicule and mockery all over it.  People had no idea what the hell Pitt was talking about.

All the late night comedy shows had a field day skewering his bizarre ponderings.

Are celebrity endorsements right for your business?  They definitely get you noticed and make you stand out from your bland competition and that’s always the mission.  Just make sure you’re smart about it.

I’m Steve Warne for Electric Medialand. And I endorse this blog post.

Author Steve Warne

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