Here are 4 ½ good reasons to avoid celebrity endorsements:
- OJ Simpson
- Tiger Woods
- Lance Armstrong
- Oscar Pistorius
4.5 Elmo the Muppet
The marketing world is littered with celebrity endorsements similar to these train wrecks. Yet companies will continue to dole out lucrative contracts to sports heroes, actors, politicians and other personalities du jour…in hopes of leveraging their popularity or notoriety.
Why do marketers continue to roll the dice with their company’s brand reputation?
One reason: celebrity endorsements require no creativity and very little effort. Nike’s ad agency simply shoots some footage of Tiger bouncing a golf ball 25 times off the face of a pitching wedge, and voila…there’s a 30-second commercial.
Companies rationalize this brand risk by assuming that the public will assign them some sympathy for having been duped by the murdering, philandering or drug abusing ways of their fallen celebrity. Marketers also may believe a celebrity’s fall from grace will provide their company with an opportunity to publicly cancel the contract, express sorrow or indignation, and gain additional time for their brand in the public spotlight.
But in terms of long-term brand management, association with a celebrity who’s fallen from grace is a losing proposition. For starters, it demonstrates poor judgment. So ignore the assurances from your ad agency, even if the celebrity they’re proposing is Mother Teresa.
But if you’re determined to use a celebrity, it may be a safer bet to hire an animal than a human. To my knowledge, RinTinTin never bit anyone, but Orca whales have a very poor track record.
Better yet…create your own celebrity. The Geico Gecko, Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger, and StarKist’s Charlie the Tuna all have clean rap sheets. So far.