“I’ll have what she’s having!!”

Caitlin Love

Why do you buy that perfume or choose that brand of shoes? Are you influenced by who stands in front of the product you buy? Advertisers have been attempting to crack the code for many, many years!

Using celebrities to endorse products is certainly not a new concept and their presence can impact attitudes consumers have about a product.  What Amos is trying to determine is what about these celebrities influences consumers.

Amos found that negative information about a celebrity (like a juicy scandal) can be detrimental to any advertising campaigns the said celebirty was endorsing. These accusations can not only degrade the celebirty but also the product he/she is endorsing. Choosing the right celebrity to back your product can be a costly business.

A fine example is Tiger Woods and his premiscuous love life. While I will be the first to admit I know very little about golf I did know that Tiger was behind many lucrative products. One of my first thoughts was….what will his sponsors do? And enevitably he lost a lot of sponership…I did also notice that most who supported Tiger Woods in this endevour followed him in his golfing career. His performance and credability as a golfsman was much more important to his follwers than his private life. It may have been a different story if Tiger was not an athlete but instead a politician in an upcoming election. I myself found it hard to see Tiger in the same light…but am I of any interest to his previous or current sponsors?

On the other hand famous basketball player Michael Jordon has not only earnt a lot of money for himself but alot for his sponsors as well. His success on the court and charmful charisma has made him a very welcome endorser for many products. In this case the risk taken on this celebrity paid off.

Amos found that a celebrity who was considered credible and trustworthy to a consumer was more likely to convey these qualities in a product. Unfortunately (in my opinion) Amos also noted that physical attractiveness also played a roll in the effectiveness of endorsement…although not as influencial as any other traits.

I think one of the most interesting findings of Amos in this study is that the most significant findings were in USA while other nations recorded less significance.

Non-US studies may be characterised by more non-significant findings because their academic cultures are more motivated by pure academic debate

While companies continue to use celebrities to endorse their products they will continuously try to determine what traits are most influencial. This of course can be related to any situation of risk communication. Those delivering the information can be just as important as the information itself. You need to ask yourself

-What are the consumers (or lay people’s) views on the people behind the information?

-Are they trustworthy?

-Are they credible in the lay people’s eyes?

Celebrities help endorse products like clothing, perfume, chariety funds and even toiletries….but for issues in risk communication I think we should leave it up to the experts!

Amos C, Holmes G & Strutton D 2008, ‘Exploring the relationship between celebrity endorser effects and advertising effectiveness: A quantative synthesis of effective size’ International journal of advertising, vol 27, pages 209 234

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8 comments so far

  1. nicolabawden7 on

    Great Post Caitlin,
    Unfortunately I think we are all influenced by the ‘celebrities’ who endorse products more than we would like to admit! It is certainly a risky task choosing the right ‘celebrity’ these days, as the majority do seem to go ‘off the rails’ at some point, and are involved in some kind of scandal. Sometimes, however they seem to come back stronger from it. Take Britney Spears for example, we all remember the headlines several years ago when she had seemingly gone ‘crazy’, going to rehab and shaving her head. Her recent music video ‘Hold it against Me’ proved even if people don’t really admit to liking her much anymore, we’re still all going to watch it once out of curiosity, and major brands such as Sony were willing to pay a large amount of money to get that mass endorsement.

    I agree that in matters of risk communication, it should definitely be left up to the experts, as they will generally have high levels of trust and credibility in the public’s eyes and people can simply focus on the message they are trying to convey, rather than scrutinising the person who is presenting it!

    Nicola Bawden

    • Caitlin Love on

      Thanks Nicola,

      Yes I do agree it can sometimes work in their favour. Although in my personal opinion I find it so hard to take some products seriously when they are backed my celebrities. I think that is why it made more sense when the study said most of these results where from U.S.A, They seem to not only take celebrities more seriously but a lot of other public figures as well.

      Like you said I think risk communication shouldn’t be something that is endorsed. I think it is essential to make sure you are taking it seriously, especially when the lay people could be worried or in a panic. In emergency situations it would be so important to ensure the person delivering the information understands it completely and are able to relate to the lay people.

      Thanks for your comment! Caitlin

  2. Carmen Pol on

    Hi Caitlin,
    First of all — excellent, eye-catching title and great post! You have a very attention-grabbing writing style that kept me interested the whole way through.

    I have to agree with Nicola and yourself that risk communication is better left to the experts (non-celebrities). I can’t say I would have a great deal of respect for ‘famous’ people if they were trying to convey a serious message to the general public.

    Product endorsement is another thing. I guess a lot of celebrities are idolised these days, and the ley public almost ‘trust’ them. eg. ‘She’s endorsing that perfume, therefore it must be good’.

    However, I think matters of risk communication are definitely a different ball game.

    Also, I agree with you that it is unfortunate that physical attractiveness of the celebrities is one way to ‘sell’ something. The wrapper has to look good and all that marketing jazz.

    I wonder if that means that we will listen to risk communicators less if they are ‘unattractive’? I doubt it. Especially not if lives are at stake, I think we would much rather someone who knows what they’re talking about to relay important information, than an ‘attractive’ individual.

    Sorry about the tangent.
    Excellent post!! Would love to read more of your writing, you have a very engaging style.
    Carmen

    • Caitlin Love on

      Thanks Carmen [?]!

      I definantly think that when risk communication is involved in a crisis that attractiveness is not something that lay people are concerned with. I think in some cases if someone is overtly attractive (especially if they are female) than some people will find it hard to take them seriously when they are delivering scientific information. Of course don’t quote me on this haha! Just a thought….

      The role celebrities have in society is an interesting relationship and evidently in some cases very profitable. It seems to be increasingly important to be famous. I am glad I live in Australia and we don’t follow with quite the same enthusiasm.

  3. habasabah on

    Hi Caitlin,

    This is really a very good topic to discuss. As I was reading through your blog post, different ideas popped up in my head as to why use of celebrities in endorsing products is such a success. What I thought was, those who are fans of these celebrities, or those that admire them or find them attractive, are going to have some kind of ‘trust’ in them. There’s that saying that I’m going to use again: “We tend to like others more if they share our values, and be more easily persuaded by (or believe messages from) others whom we like.”- so the messages these celebrities are conveying can be accepted (or rejected) by the public without examining facts too closely based on whether the info source is liked or disliked!

    Sharing of values also helps – for example, take Australian talent, Delta Goodrem; she participated in the campaign for “Proactiv”, a skin care product in helping to prevent pimple breakouts. Not only is she generally liked by the public (particularly younger members), but because it is the younger generation that suffer the pimple breakouts, and using a young and glamorous celebrity is effective in advertising. Seeing such a glamorous and famous, young individual like Delta, having similar issues with skin almost ‘humanises’ her and allows general identification and acceptance from the public in accepting the product as a success! (Hope that made sense!)

    I did think about the “attractive” factor and I can think of many famous celebrities who are anything but attractive (no offence) and have been used to help promote products – it’s the fame factor I think that outweighs how good they look (money over mug!)

    So I guess I’m just adding to your examples – but you’ve hit the nail on the head and addressed all areas well.

    • Caitlin Love on

      Thanks Habasabah,

      I defnitely agree that when celebrities appear to have similar values or even similar problems that the audience can better relate to them and ultimately the product! I think the only problem with this is when it is products like proactiv that is mostly aimed at the younger generation the celebrity selected to endorse the product can be very dangerous. Thus far Delta Goodrem has been seen as a wholesome and ‘pure’ celebrity but imagine if years ago they had chosen Lindsey Lohan to endorse this product before her derailment was a public show. When the intended audience is easily influenced like the younger generation it is vital to choose a ‘safe’ celebrity.

      what you said about the attravtiveness of a celebrity not always influencing the audience……I agree to a certain extent. For example for a feminine perfume I think to a certain extent attractiveness is vital (this is not something I am proud of!!) But if the advertisement is trying to generate a humorous response that physical appearance may not be as important

      Caitlin

      • habasabah on

        That’s true about Lindsay Lohan (or other infamous celebrities!) I guess I thought of Delta in the first place because she does have that ‘pure’ image. And I definitely agree about the point you made on ‘attractiveness’, I was just thinking about the other side of things, but for beauty products it’d be pointless to get an unattractive celebrity to endorse (almost comical)!

        Thanks for your post! I enjoyed reading and commenting – you’ve made some great points!

        Habasabah (Sabah :P)

      • Caitlin Love on

        No worries!

        You made some great points as well that I hadn’t thought of! It is good to hear some other points of view


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