Celebrity endorsement: stars promoting brands.
The concept of celebrity endorsement has been around for a very long time. This marketing strategy uses stars – and that has some advantages.
What is Celebrity Endorsement?
Celebrity endorsement means a certain form of marketing. It involves using one or more celebrities to promote a particular service or product. The principle is also called celebrity branding and is one of four possible forms of testimonials.
Testimonial advertising uses testimonials from satisfied customers to enhance the authenticity of the advertising message.
The main aim of celebrity endorsement advertising is to reach a larger audience with the help of the fan community and to transfer the positive associations that fans associate with the celebrity to the advertised products.
However, celebrity endorsement can also go beyond the usual advertising media such as TV commercials and posters. Stars who act as brand ambassadors are often also provided with various items from the brand or the product they are promoting. The celebrities use these products in their everyday lives and show them on their social media channels.
What are the benefits of celebrity endorsement?
Brand ambassadors are seen as a guarantee of success. Companies that promote their products and brands with the help of celebrity endorsement hope to gain a number of advantages from the collaboration.
More attention: In the age of information overload, stimuli are often highly selected. Only stimuli that are perceived as important attract people’s attention and penetrate their consciousness. Celebrities therefore serve as eye-catchers and attention magnets in advertisements. In this way, they can often give a product superior penetration of the market.
More sales: The right brand ambassador creates trust among consumers and thus makes it easier for them to make a purchase decision. This increases the chance that a testimonial will not only increase brand value and sales, but also improve the company’s image.
Positive image transfer: The reputation that precedes the celebrity is automatically transferred to the advertised product or brand. At best, it is primarily positive associations that fans associate with the celebrity and transfer to the advertised products.
Higher likeability values: Another possible advantage is that advertising with celebrities has an effect on consumers’ attitudes and preferences in favor of the advertised product.
Higher recognition value: In most cases, a product is remembered much longer if consumers associate it with a celebrity. The recall value is then significantly higher.
Celebrity brand ambassadors
The principle of celebrity endorsement is not new. Companies have been relying on testimonials for more than 200 years, and of course many national and international stars are still active as brand ambassadors today:
- Charlize Theron (45) for the perfume brand Dior.
- The players of the German national team for the shaving brand Gillette
- Massimo Sinato (40) and Rebecca Mir (29) for the Nintendo Switch game console
- Daniel Boschmann (40) for Maxcare
- Lewis Hamilton (36) and Alicia Keys (40) for the Mercedes S-Class
- Angelique Kerber (33) for the shampoo brand Head & Shoulders
Celebrity endorsement and its effect
It is hard to imagine advertising without celebrities. Companies expect increased awareness, higher sales figures and a positive brand image from cooperating with them.
In fact, it is possible that products and services advertised by celebrities are bought more often and have a better image. However, a study by the market research company Ace Metrix, which measures advertising impact in the U.S., shows that this does not apply across the board: testimonial advertising can be effective, but it can also have the opposite effect or simply make no difference at all.
The mere recognition of a star does not make a product, a collection or a brand a sales hit. Various factors have to work together for celebrity endorsement to have the desired effect.
Factors that determine success
In principle, the credibility of a celebrity is an important factor that determines whether a testimonial advertisement will top or flop. Testimonials need to be authentic and experienced as “real.”
The fact is, however, that credibility is affected by various aspects. It starts with brand fit: celebrities and the product they endorse must match. There has to be a meaningful connection between the two.
As a racing driver for Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton is ideal as an advertising ambassador for the car brand.
However, the preference for commercials featuring celebrities is related to how interested respondents are in celebrities in general: The stronger the interest, the more likely testimonial advertising is preferred.
Credibility is also influenced by personal interest in celebrities: respondents with a high level of interest estimate that the proportion of celebrities who use the advertised products themselves is almost twice as high (43 percent) as respondents with hardly any interest in celebrities.
Another point is the public’s interest: a representative survey conducted by Splendid Research in 2015 surveyed what kind of celebrities the Germans surveyed are interested in and how they rate the use of well-known personalities in advertising. 27 percent of respondents like advertising with celebrities better than without.
Sympathy toward the celebrity also plays an important role. If the celebrity is liked by the media user, this makes the brand likeable.
Even more intensive is the emotional connection, as the scientifically founded execution in the Fachzeitsch. In this case, advertising with a prominent person is not merely entertaining, but is related to the user’s own desires. Both have a positive effect on brand and product evaluation, but an emotional bond is additionally conveyed by the significance that the celebrity has for the consumer – for example, an orientation or role model function.
Potential risk factors
Driving up sales figures with the help of celebrities is not successful with every cooperation. Stars do not necessarily enhance the advertising impact, but in some cases even reduce it: In times of digital networking, celebrities are in contact with fans and haters on more and more channels. This increases the success potential of celebrity endorsement, but also increases the risks due to the enormous media echo. Media Perspectives also addresses these, citing the following points:
Scandals and misconduct: Celebrities who are involved in scandals, or behave questionably in public, can drag a company down with them and possibly even affect the competition of the advertised brand.
Lack of brand fit: When celebrities and products don’t match, the testimonial looks out of place in advertising and is more likely to draw ridicule than impress consumers.
Eclipsing: If celebrities in advertising draw attention to themselves instead of the product and thus overshadow it (eclipse), viewers will remember the testimonial but not what was advertised.
Multiple endorsements: Celebrities who advertise as multi-testimonials for several brands cause many potential consumers to miss the brand.
As the aforementioned Ace Metrix study indicates, being too polarizing to the public can affect a celebrity’s credibility in advertising.
For example, in cosmetics advertising. After all, beauty is always in the eye of the beholder: some find a celebrity attractive and buy into the product’s effect. Others are only moderately enthusiastic about their appearance and react skeptically to the advertising. Similarly, it can be problematic if a celebrity has a polarizing opinion on a particular topic.
Another risk factor is when brand success is heavily dependent on the popularity of the testimonial. In the same way, an incorrect brand strategy or a poor conception is not made better by the use of a celebrity.
Examples of successful celebrity endorsement
Despite all the risks, there are also some examples of successful celebrity endorsements. Many brands and products would not achieve such high sales figures without the help of celebrities.
An absolute prime example of successful celebrity advertising is Thomas Gottschalk (70), who worked for Haribo for a whole quarter of a century. The investment in the TV star paid off, because the gummy bear brand demonstrably benefited enormously from Gottschalk’s popularity. He ensured that the brand was better remembered, rated as more likeable and bought more frequently.
Likewise, actor George Clooney (59) is still closely associated with the Nespresso coffee brand in the minds of consumers. He made the capsule coffee a status symbol with his advertising – after all, he has been presenting the product for over a decade.
The Balenciaga label also had prominent support, which helped it achieve fame. The daring fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga († 77) laid the foundation for this because he went into business in a big way right from the start: he opened his first haute couture salon in Paris in 1937 and a studio for women’s fashion in the upper price segment already the following year. Balenciaga experimented with unusual materials and cuts and, among other things, made oversized proportions and the babydoll silhouette socially acceptable.
Thus, the fashion designer changed and inspired the fashion world with his revolutionary and unusual creations. For this, other great designers such as Christian Dior admired him – and some celebrities.
Balenciaga’s clients included the Spanish aristocracy as well as Queen Fabiola of Belgium, the Duchess of Windsor and Princess Gracia Patricia. They were joined by famous non-aristocratic women such as Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich.
With this celebrity support, Balenciaga could afford not to advertise, because its fashion sold itself. Even today, the label is one of the most popular among celebrities.
Fashion designer Grace Wales Bonner had a similar experience when Duchess Meghan Markle (39) and Prince Harry (36) made their first public appearance with son Archie on May 8, 2019. Meghan wore a white trench dress created by the designer.
Although initially all eyes were on baby Archie (1), the style of the Duchess of Sussex quickly dominated the news. After this appearance, Wales Bonner’s name was on everyone’s lips – and in all browser search histories.
Celebrity and product – this is how the connection is made
There are two types of celebrity marketing: celebrities who endorse any brand, and those who choose the collaborations carefully. When celebrities promote different brands, they quickly come across as inauthentic. As a result, the impact on sales and engagement rates suffers.
Celebrities who are more critical in deciding which brands to collaborate with add more value to a company because they are more likely to amplify the impact of the advertising campaign.
They are aware that oversaturating their social feeds with sponsored content could negatively impact their relationship with their fans and followers. As a result, they pay much more attention to ensuring that a brand or product they are asked to promote actually fits them and their public opinion before agreeing to collaborate with a label. The cooperation must be justifiable for them in every respect before the fans.
What else is important in the celebrity product line-up?
In order for the collaboration with celebrities to be successful, there are a few things to keep in mind during the selection process.
The celebrity should match the company’s values and not be involved in any scandals to avoid any negative financial impact.
Conversely, the product must fit the celebrity. Otherwise, the collaboration will not bring new customers, no matter how famous the star is.
The product must work: There is nothing worse for a brand than spending vast sums of money to buy a famous celebrity if, in the end, the product doesn’t work. This can have a long-term impact on the perception the brand and put the celebrity in an awkward position.
Pamela Reif is the most successful fitness influencer in the world
Celebrity marketing versus influencer marketing
Celebrity brand ambassadors* are often referred to as influencers in the context of social media. However, in addition to the existing similarities, there are also clear differences between the two concepts of celebrity marketing and influencer marketing.
The advertising venue
Celebrity marketing describes the use of celebrities in various marketing measures. Influencer marketing takes place exclusively in social networks. A celebrity who advertises a certain product as a testimonial on television is therefore different from a product placement by an influencer in social media, who can in principle post from anywhere in the world and in private.
The target audience
While social media influencers usually only cater to a young target group on the Internet, TV personalities manage to reach both the TV audience and the “Internet generation.” After all, TV stars usually have their personal social media channels in addition.
The mode of action
Celebrity marketing links a celebrity’s fame to a brand or product. That is, celebrities are idolized by their fans while being associated with the advertised product. Brands used this strategy to bring their product into association with the celebrity and thus generate purchase decisions among consumers*.
Influencer marketing is much more about communication: Influencers are active in social media channels and present brands and products to a specific group of people – namely the followers who trust the influencer. By making appropriate statements about a brand or product, they build up the image in the minds of their followers.
In general, influencers are constantly in dialog with their followers. They answer questions and go into more detail about a product when the community wants to know more about it. This may generate a deeper interest in certain brands and products.
With celebrity marketing, on the other hand, communication is usually one-sided. For example, with commercials on television or billboard advertising.
For companies, reach plays a crucial role in both marketing strategies. The aim is always to reach as many people as possible with the advertising. For celebrity marketing, it’s just as easy to estimate how many people will see the ad as it is for influencer marketing. The only difference is that one involves measurement methods such as magazine circulation figures and surveys on audience ratings, while the other involves the number of followers, subscribers and clicks.
Market your own label
Do you have your own brand that you want to promote? Here are a few tips for you on how to market your label and boost sales.
Use external online stores
Creating your own online store can be a big challenge in itself: After all, you have to consider quite a few things besides the imprint requirement. For example, the products must be presented attractively and with all the necessary information.
The biggest challenge, however, is getting potential customers to visit your online store. This is exactly where external online stores help you. They bring the customers to you. All you need to do is create a profile, add your products and set up points such as your terms and conditions and payment methods.
Crowdfunding, in German Schwarm- or group financing, is primarily intended to financially support projects and business ideas. For this purpose, the project is presented on a crowdfunding platform and it is stated how much money is needed to implement it. This is the funding goal.
With the help of many backers, each of whom contributes only a small amount, the goal is to achieve this goal. In return for a donation, there are usually material goods or certain privileges related to the project.
Run your own blog
If you run your own blog, you can not only integrate your store on it. You can also creatively share your ideas and products with your target audience. By regularly writing new articles, you can further bind your customers to you and learn more about them and their needs.
Register the label in a label database
On special websites a company can register its own label with the points of sale. The advantage of these label databases is an enormous reach. Because cooperation partners and interested parties use such databases to find brands and newcomers.
Draw on celebrities and influencers
It can also be useful for you to fall back on the support of celebrities or influencers. Fashion bloggers, YouTube stars and other influencers are role models for many and can thus influence the opinion of the community. You can take advantage of this by letting them test your products and voice their opinions. Ideally, both of you will benefit from the cooperation.
For the high investment in the appearance of a celebrity for your advertising to really pay off, the testimonial advertising must be significantly more successful than advertising without celebrities.