Endorsements by celebrities have been a powerful way of selling products for a long time. Early movie stars and popular athletes helped sell a wide variety of consumer goods, such as cigarettes, beverages, candy bars, automobiles, even Jello. And it seemed to work well as people clamored for the latest product endorsed by their heroes. Today, athletes like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan have kicked it up a big notch to sell such things as automobiles, underwear and athletic equipment. Following this, companies like Nike and Adidas cut deals with Colleges and High Schools so the athletes will wear their logos in order to impress young people. For women, Hollywood actresses help sell tons of beauty products and clothing. Bottom-line, celebrity endorsements are an important part of marketing products to the general public.
But would you really buy a product simply because a celebrity endorses it? Well, for low-ticket items, maybe, but for high-ticket items like automobiles, hopefully not. Celebrities may be good for drawing attention to such products, but I would like to check it out more closely before slapping down a huge chunk of change. It’s interesting that advertisers find it more important to sell image as opposed to a product’s features and benefits. For example, how many times have you watched a television commercial and you weren’t exactly sure what they were selling?
This is also why celebrities have to cultivate their image. If their appearance and actions send the wrong signals, however slight, advertisers will avoid them like the plague. It also means they are under considerable pressure to be successful in their chosen field. The gravy train will inevitably run out if they fail. It kind of makes you wonder what these people are like when the cameras are turned off and they can act like human beings.
Celebrities are also useful for drawing attention to charities. I think just about everyone on the planet has seen Sally Struthers support the “Save the Children Fund.” Such efforts are greatly appreciated by nonprofit organizations. As for the celebrities, you have to wonder though if they passionately believe in the charity they endorse or are they doing it simply because it is politically correct and can help their careers.
Celebrities have also become an integral part of politics since the 1960′s. Prior to this, movie stars used to stay out of the political arena as studio moguls considered it bad business. Sure, they had their opinions but they basically kept them to themselves as they didn’t want to offend anyone which might effect ticket sales at the box office.
Today we have a wide array of actors and actresses stumping for their politician du jour. One has to wonder though if celebrity endorsements really helps in this regards. For example, actor George Clooney stumped for his Dad, Nick Clooney, when he ran for Congress in Kentucky a few years ago, but this didn’t appear to help and may have actually hurt the campaign. Now we have the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Chuck Norris, Barbra Streisand, etc, who have all weighed in on their political favorites. But does their endorsements impact voters? Well, according to a recent CNN poll, 11% responded they would vote for a politician based on a celebrity endorsement. This may be a small number, but it is still significant and growing.
It used to be politicians would solicit endorsements from newspapers, labor unions, and other civic organizations. But the tide is starting to turn as they are now actively recruiting celebrity endorsements. Any endorsement might be nice, but I have to question whether the individual or group is really qualified to render an opinion. As for me, I still want to check under the hood and kick the tires a few times before I invest in a high-ticket item.
For a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.