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Is Celebrity Endorsement Effective?

Our blog this week comes courtesy of Ceri Hacking at Cerub PR in High Wycombe. We read Ceri’s article a few weeks back and it really struck so many chords with us that we asked her if we could use it on our blog. She said yes!

We often get asked by clients about using a ‘name’ or ‘face’ to promote their business, and although it can be useful and have benefits, in most cases it’s not necessary. If a video is well crafted and the story told well, then the person fronting it just needs to be professional or at least able to take coaching/mentoring on camera. Probably the majority of our videos include client appearances – they are after the people who know their businesses best – and they do a great job of sharing what it is that makes them do what they do in a way that is believable, because it is!

Anyway, here’s Ceri’s article, see if you recognise some of the things she says and for PR read Video – the results are the same:

“It’s a frustratingly common belief, often bandied about by people without a proper understanding of PR and how it works, that paying a celebrity to endorse your product is a fast-track way to secure vast amounts of quality coverage. But put your wallet away – it’s a myth. And, more often than not, a poor use of your PR budget.Getting a celebrity to be the “face” of your brand CAN work well in certain, very specific, situations but so many companies get it wrong. Blinded by the dazzling glamour of having a celebrity endorse their product they fail to see that it actually just looks false, forced, cheesy and, dare we say it, desperate.

That’s not to say that celebrity endorsement doesn’t have its place in the PR armoury because, of course, it does but you have to carefully consider the combination of the product, the celebrity, the target media and the target audience. Without taking these things into account celebrity can very easily fall flat and if it’s not right for your product, accept that it’s not right for your product – don’t force it.

While a celebrity modelling your clothes or endorsing your make-up line can go a long way to getting into the media, it has to be the right product paired with the right celebrity. Abbey Clancy and Ultimo is a perfect example. After Strictly Come Dancing, Abbey Clancy was at the height of her popularity and Ultimo knows that women will be attracted by her likeability and approachability – not to mention that fact that she looks amazing in the underwear! In addition, Abbey is someone people can relate to, she isn’t intimidating and people are keen to read about her life, so as part of the media campaign, in exchange for featuring the products, the media was given the opportunity to interview her about her personal life and her work.

With Ultimo, the images are key so it’s an integral part of the story. There’s also a very obvious target media who would want the story, the images and the interview in this example so photos of Abbey in Ultimo underwear can be used to illustrate an interview with her waxing lyrical about the product as well as talking about her own life. This was picked up by the women’s press, the daily newspapers and appropriate websites. That’s a success story because she is the perfect fit for the product. But, without the right match of celebrity to product, there is a danger that the celebrity becomes the focus of the story rather than the product.

So let’s just say that you’re launching a new desk. Perhaps it’s very a nice desk. But do you really need a celebrity endorsing it? There’s not necessarily a link between the desk and the celebrity, but for arguments sake, lets say you get an appropriate celebrity endorsing your product. As its a piece of furniture you’d target the interiors titles and interiors journalists offering interviews with your celebrity and provide pictures of the celebrity with the desk. So you get some interviews set up about the celebrity’s life and home. But realistically, how much publicity is your desk actually going to get? How much can a celebrity say about a desk without it sounding forced and disingenuous? You may get a photo published, you may get a small mention of your product, but are people really going to buy a desk because there’s a picture of a celebrity with it? And is it really the best use of your PR budget to secure this celebrity in return for the little coverage it generates?

A more effective campaign would focus on getting the product into the press on its own merits. Find the USP of the product; is it functional or more attractive? Who will it appeal to? Students, business people with offices or homeowners with a study? Look at the price point and see which media it might fit. Is there a seasonal angle? If it’s a desk for a student then the right time to get it into the media is in August or September as students go back to university. Call the appropriate media and find out whether they’re doing “essentials for the new term” features. If it’s for a study, then the price point is likely to be higher so look at the more high end magazines and newspapers and pitch them features about how to furnish your study. Send them high quality pictures of the product alone and in pride of place in a room.

If it’s for a home office, try the business press which focus on start-ups and sell them the idea of how you can create an effective working space.Getting bigger features around the product is going to be more effective than having a celebrity perched on the desk talking about their personal life. Yes, celebrity endorsement has a place in PR but it’s not the cure-all many PR “experts” would have you believe. You may be excited that you manage to pay a celebrity to be linked to your product, but unless there’s a valid reason why and unless the product and celebrity are intrinsically relevant to each other, unfortunately you’ll find that the media may not share your enthusiasm.”

Ceri’s website is


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