Are Celebrity Endorsements Worth It?

By September 16, 2014Advertising, Branding
Blog Branding Are Celebrity Endorsements Worth It?

When it comes to celebrity endorsements there’s not a secret formula for when it’s appropriate to incur the steep fees celebrities charge to give your brand a face. 

A Dutch research firm writing in the Journal of Economic Psychology said that, “celebrity endorsements alter brain activity, as buyers feel affection toward these celebs.” Well that’s a plus, but on the other hand – AdAge did a study showing that a celebrity endorsement of a product is unimportant in determining whether the ad resonates with viewers, “In fact, one-fifth of celebrity ads had a negative impact on the advertising effectiveness.”

Who are we to believe?

We compiled a list of the some instances where celebrity endorsements damaged the brand image:

  • Legende de Michael Jackson – bombed – not his fan base.
  • Lance Armstrong – Nike really took gas backing the Big Doper.
  • Lindsay Lohan – was hired to join Proactiv and immediately got put in the slammer for drugs and booze.
  • Madonna got $5MM from PepsiCo for a song, Like a Prayer, which a Catholic bishop filed a complaint over and the ad was pulled.
  • Tiger Woods’s sex scandal made Nike take a very deep breath, and then backed off quickly.

There are some huge success stories:

  • Jennifer Aniston – Smart Water
  • Leonardo DiCaprio – TAG Heuer
  • David Beckham – Adidas
  • Robert Di Niro – American Express
  • Jennifer Lopez – L’Oreal

What can we say? It all depends on the chemistry between the product and the celebrity and how that chemistry translates to their each fan base.


Bill Swanston

Author Bill Swanston

Almost an Atlanta native, Bill left to become Associate Creative Director at some of the best of the big agencies (BBDO/NY, Saatchi & Saatchi, Doner, Hill Holliday) before returning home to found our agency with Scott in 1999. Bill's creative credentials include work that has been recognized in almost every advertising award show including Cannes, One Show, Addy's, Communication Arts, Hatch, Obies and Tellies.

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