What's the point of celebrities?

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Marketing Leamington Spa

Today, Centaur Communications launched a subscription web service called Celebrity Intelligence. It's a brand new B2B product aimed specifically at helping brand marketers and PRs identify and do business with the celebrities most likely to give them a competitive advantage.

At the core of the new product is an extensive, up-to-date celebrity database, with full demographic and commercial career details on more than 28,000 stars from the world of film, TV, music, sports, fashion and the arts. It shows what brands celebrities endorse, what charities they work with and many more essential details.

The site offers a range of easy-to-use search tools which enable users to segment the celebrities by a wide range of different criteria including by age, sex, sector, or even skills and interests, or ailments. All the relevant contact details are available for every one of the 28,000 celebrities.

Most advertisers can't afford the thousands or even millions of pounds it takes to hire a celebrity endorser. But if your company falls in that category, take heart. Why?


1. Celebrity endorsers aren't only pricey, they're risky.

Because celebrities exist in the spotlight, the risk of getting caught doing something embarrassing is much higher than for the rest of us. The list of celebrities who lost their endorsements is endless: Kerry Katona and Iceland (alleged cocaine use), Tiger Woods and Gillette (alleged extra-marital affairs), Michael Phelps and Kelloggs (alleged marijuana use), Ronaldinho and Coca-Cola (publicly drinking Pepsi), Kerry Katona (again) and Cash Lady Payday Loans (bankruptcy!).

2. Endorsements may only help raise the celebrity's profile, not your brand's.

Consider Rihanna's advertising deal with Nivea skincare. The press ads featuring a near-naked Rihanna got a lot of attention, but not for the skincare they advertised. They helped build on the star's raunchy image, while the sponsoring brand made an about-face on the singer, claiming that the campaign should never have aired.

3. The more products they endorse, the more diluted each endorsement becomes.

Tennis player Maria Sharapova endorses Head, Nike, TAG Heuer, Samsung, Porsche, Evian, Cole Haan, not to mention her own 'Sugarpova' range of sweets. With so many endorsements going on at one time, one face representing so many brands can have a negative effect on the product. According to Hamish Pringle, who wrote Celebrity Sells in 2004, “There is research to show that consumers lose confidence in celebrities who do too many things. Consumers understand that celebrities are paid, so why should they be believed?”


Is there an alternative?

The answer is yes. Celebrity endorsements are expensive and risky, and they don't always pay off. If you believe your brand is in need of additional equity, instead of borrowing it from a celebrity, develop it yourself. You may need to refocus your efforts on making your brand more appealing, more affordable, or more easily available (and perhaps all of the above).

Take the money you would otherwise hand over to an already well-paid celebrity and invest it in developing original creative ideas that will make your brand stand out. That way, the equity you create will be nothing but your own.

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