Four Brand Building Benefits of Celebrity Marketing

Consumers are more likely to choose goods and services endorsed by celebrities, than those without such endorsements.

The use of product endorsers in American advertising dates back over a century, to 1870. In 1905, the cigarette industry was the first to use entertainment personalities, when Murad Cigarettes hired Fatty Arbuckle and Harry Bulger to appear in their ads.

The modern era of celebrity endorsement can be traced to 1934, when Wheaties signed Lou Gehrig as their spokesman, beginning the brand’s storied tradition of featuring athletes.

Today, the use of recognized personalities to sell brands has become an increased component of marketing communications, with approximately 20% of all television commercials now feature a famous person.

Practical sales-based evidence along with numerous commercial and academic studies demonstrate that celebrity-based advertising works:

  • Snoop Dogg’s $100 million 1-year positive impact on Tommy Hilfiger apparel
  • “Glow By J. Lo”, which generated $44 million in the first 4 months
  • Kirstie Alley drives up sales 120% over 18 months while losing 75 lbs. on Jenny Craig
  • Jamie Lee Curtis increased sales 50% year one and became synonymous with Activia

The four most important brand-building benefits of celebrity-based marketing are: instant credibility, ready-made likeability, easy-to-grasp product differentiation, and allows brands to cut through the clutter of advertising messages.

1. Credibility

A key to maximizing celebrity endorsements, is properly matching the endorser’s persona to the product’s attributes.

A trustworthy and well-liked celebrity, when matched to the right product (where the celebrity’s use of the product is believable), provides a powerful reason to believe claims made by the advertising (e.g., Jeff Gordon’s use of Quaker State Motor Oil).

In general, consumers are more likely to believe that an endorsed product is of higher quality than a parity item that is not endorsed.

2. Likeability

Purchase of the endorsed product allows the end-user/buyer to share the celebrity’s positive experience. This can have a dramatic effect with lower-priced items.

3. Product Differentiation

Well-known celebrities with high positive consumer ratings can act to coalesce the market around a particular product or brand (e.g., Michael Jordan’s impact for Nike, ESPN, Gatorade, etc.). This allows the execution of copy platforms with a “universal” appeal, thus reducing the need for message variations specific to the more parochial concerns of individual consumer groups.

4. Cut-through

Brand images built through celebrities achieve a higher degree of attention and recall for consumers. Famous people are significantly more likely to hold the viewer’s attention, and an especially important benefit in the current environment of channel-surfing and mass delivery of messages that demand consumers’ time.  

photo credit: JPH – Juleskills via photopin cc


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