Celebrity Spokespeople: Worth the Risk?

09 It is increasingly difficult to watch television or flip through a magazine without finding a celebrity endorsing a national brand. Whether it be William Shatner for Priceline, or Peyton Manning for Sony or Mastercard (among others), we are surrounded by celebrities pinning their names and faces to national brands. While this advertising strategy can be extremely profitable for companies, it can also backfire if the celebrities find themselves in scandalous situations – think Tiger Woods or Kate Moss. It leaves us to beg the question, are celebrity endorsements worth the potential risk?

Celebrity spokespeople can bring “borrowed equity” to the brand under the premise that, Celebrity A wears Product B and perhaps consumers will want to as well. With the right celebrity for the job, this strategy has brought success to many brands throughout history. However, the risk factor comes into play since celebrities live under a microscope. Their actions are often scrutinized and they can find themselves in trouble in their personal lives. A bad reputation for a celebrity endorser can rub off on the brand, and creates double the trouble. Brands will often drop celebrities from their campaigns if they feel that they no longer represent the brand in a positive light.

To put an interesting twist on the endorsement, companies have also gotten creative and invented their own ‘celebrities’, such as the Geico Gecko and Caveman. Since they’re not real people, there is no risk of them doing anything illegal or embarrassing, and the company still has a recognizable face to the brand.

So, is it worth the risk to have a high-profile celebrity endorse your brand? Do your research. Make sure that the celebrity represents not only your product, but also the lifestyle and image that you want to portray. Taking more time to find the right person (or fictitious person) can end in a win-win situation for both the celebrity and the brand.