Bill Swanston

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.