Friday, February 7, 2014

Is it time to stop using celebrities in advertising?

I used to think that the worst thing that could happen with celebrity advertising was that people would be so distracted by the celebrity that they would forget to notice what brand they were pushing.  Then I started to be concerned about the shill factor when the same celebrities seemed to be selling many products, most of which they didn't even bother to use. 

But this week a new possibility emerged -- what happens if your celebrity turns on you?

Amitabh Bachchan, an Indian movie icon, who has been associated with Pepsi for eight years had a change of heart after a school girl asked him "why he was promoting a drink that her teacher maintained was poisonous."   Hmm.  After some soul searching Amitabh has decided to end his relationship with the brand noting that he doesn't endorse tobacco or alcohol either.  Wow.  I'm sure that is an association that Pepsi doesn't need. (Forbes, 2014)

So what do you think?  Have you ever bought something because a celebrity endorsed it?  Do you think the use of celebrities in marketing is a good strategy?  Or is it time to find another approach?

Forbes, T. (2014, February 4)  Furor Over Bollywood Star's 'Deendorsing' Pepsi.  Retrieved February 7, 2014, from


  1. To be honest, I haven't really bought anything because a celebrity endorsed it but that is not to say that I don't like the idea of a celebrity endorsing a products. I understand that products need an ambassador to personify the type of person they want in their apparel or consuming their products. In some sort of weird way seeing a familiar face in ad brings the product just a little bit closer to your hear or frame of mind.

    Conversely, I do agree that sometimes that celebrity endorsements are overkill. How many endorsements can a celebrity take on without homogenizing their image. At that point they celebrities loose their edge. A perfect example of this was Beyonce in the early 2000s. She had a perfume deal with Tommy Hilfiger, Giorgio Armani, and her own brand. Not to mention endorsements for L'Oréal, Nintendo DS, American Express, and her biggest paycheck with Pepsi. It wasn't until recently, she began to release a newer, sexier image where she dialed down the commercial advertising to pursue a new persona.

    I think there is time to find another approach and its being taken now. Advertisements are getting smarter with native advertising and sponsored content from brands you not only see less celebrities but less of the actual brand as well.

  2. The use of celebrities in marketing is a huge gamble. The fact that celebrities are so familiar can work to either help or hinder the sale of a product. A consumer may be more inclined to pay attention to an ad if it's familiar to them and adding a celebrity to it does just that. It caters to consumer insights (e.g. Michael Jordan and the "like Mike" campaign). However, because celebrities' lives are so publicized, any mishap that blemishes their image will also have a direct, negative impact on any product they endorse (e.g. Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods and their respective scandals). When companies choose to invest in celebrity endorsements, they are essentially investing in that celebrity's behavior and human nature can be as unpredictable as the stock market.

    That being said, I am guilty of buying a product because a celebrity has endorsed it. I own and have owned many pairs of Air Jordans. Growing up, Michael Jordan was easily one of my heroes. As a basketball player and a fan of Jordan, I just had to have a pair of Nike's Air Jordans if I wanted to be "like Mike". Jordan's endorsement of these sneakers are so successful because consumers can easily see the association and strong connection between the endorser and the product. Consumers are given the message that Jordan's success is aided by his shoes. Sneakers play an important role in an athletes performance in basketball. So, consumers will go out and buy this product hoping to capture some of the essence of Jordan's success. I can't say the same about Jordan and his endorsement of Ball Park Frank's, however.