Post by Whitney Heckathorne, Public Relations Research
Britney Spears, Bill Cosby, Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, and Bob Dole….What do all of these celebrities have in common?
…If you guessed famous product endorsement campaigns, you are correct!
And in case you are drawing a blank:
- Britney Spears for Pepsi
- Bill Cosby for Jello Pudding
- Michael Jordon for Gatorade
- Steve Jobs for the iPhone
- Bob Dole for Viagra
(and yes, some of these celebs have had multiple endorsement campaigns…many of which have been memorable; these were just the campaigns that came to mind).
What made these campaigns so famous? The spokesperson? The brand? The ad itself? The controversy? (Think: When Britney was caught drinking a Coca-Cola beverage or when Bob Dole “sold out” and endorsed a pharma company product). And interestingly, all of these endorsers represent a different “genre” of celebrity…singer, actor, athlete, business leader and political figure.
Well as usual, I come to you with new Harris research and also, as usual, I write this post with many, many more questions than I have answers.
Teaming up with Adweek Media, The Harris Poll asked YOU… when endorsing an ad, which type of celebrity do you find most persuasive? And you answered as follows:
- Business leaders –37%
- Athletes –21%
- Television or movie stars –18%
- Singers or musicians –14%
- Former political figures –10%
To be honest, you could have knocked me over with a feather when I found out athletes and musicians weren’t tied for #1. Business leaders are most persuasive, eh? Hmmm…so are we thinking of celebxecutives such as Donald Trump and Martha Stewart? Or smallish business owners like Bob from Bob’s Furniture or Mattress Mac? I also question how versatile business leaders are in endorsing products other than their own, compared to actors, musicians and athletes (but hey, perhaps the magic of Macy’s, featuring both Trump and Stewart, along with a multitude of other celebs, will prove me wrong).
Okay so back to my point…which was that I have many more questions regarding this topic (and am hoping you can help me answer some!):
- What other attributes must celebrities have to successfully endorse a product? Do they have to be super famous or just super relatable? Given the ease of tracking celebs via the Internet these days, it would probably behoove those who are famous to be on their best behavior…in other words, they should NOT be stamping their feet in a diva-fit if they want to be viewed positively by the public.
- In what product category(ies) are each genre of celebrity most persuasive? Surely effectiveness isn’t completely tied to the relationship between the endorser and the type of product. In other words, Britney is not a soft drink expert and Bill Cosby is not a culinary dessert master...so why would we care about their opinion of these products if they WEREN'T famous? But what celeb/product pairings would be a match made in advertising heaven?
- And as we continue along in our celeb-infused culture, will the new wave of advertising require partnering with multiple celebrities? If so, is it better if they are from the same or different celeb genres?
I told you…I only had questions for you today. What are your thoughts on what makes a successful celebrity product endorser?
P.S.--Must thank my Twitterverse for their help in thinking of other endorsers--mentions included Kate Walsh for Cadillac, William Shatner for Priceline, Jamie Lee Curtis for Activia, Justin Long as the “Mac guy,” and Wilford Brimley for Quaker Oats and diabetes.