In a TV advertisement, Cheryl Cole will tell you she’s “found an answer to our hair prayers” and that L’Oréal products are the solution to all of our dull, lifeless hair problems.
She obviously fails to mention that she is being paid to say all of this.
Using celebrities as spokespeople for products is hardly a new concept.
Enlisting an A-Lister as an ambassador for a brand has now become a mainstream promotional tactic.
With the rise of the web and social media, more and more people are researching products online before they buy. And when your favourite celebrity endorses something, does it influence you?
While many of us are now more media aware and have caught on that what celebrities say about certain products might not be sincere and genuine, celebrity endorsement has now become more devious with the social media boom.
What are the benefits of using a celebrity to endorse your products?
Beauty and glamour
The world of celebrity goes hand in hand with beauty and glamour, and your customers will start to associate this with your brand. Celebrities attract attention and this helps build recognition and trust with an audience. Many will be guided by their favourite celebrities and try and model themselves after them, making it easier to persuade them to buy your product purely by using Cheryl Cole in your ad.
Sex and drugs
While it can be beneficial for a brand, it can also be disastrous, particularly when a scandal is involved. After all, we all remember what happened with Tiger Woods (sex) and Kate Moss (drugs). Numerous brands will soon cut ties with celebrities who can damage their reputations, particularly those brands seeking a family-friendly image.
These days, companies are starting to recognise Twitter as a powerful PR tool. If you want Kim Kardashian to tweet about loving your brand or products, her over 11 million followers will see it. While some of those will recognise the tweet as a marketing ploy and ignore it, many others will research the product, and a fair few will go on to buy it. While Twitter has been dubbed as ‘Free PR’ certain celebrities can charge you over $10,000 per tweet about your brand. So this option is immediately ruled out for small brands with limited budgets.
So is this fair?
Legal, decent, honest, truthful – and disclosed
This has led to calls for independent watchdogs and tighter regulation. The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has started cracking down on Twitter users and bloggers. They recently reached a decision following an investigation into social media firm Handpicked Media which operates a commercial blogging network – insisting that it must clearly state its relationship with the brand, including whether or not promotional comments have been paid for. Perhaps this will put an end to some of the dishonesty but it can never be completely stopped.
In the culture we live in, celebrities are always in demand and celebrity endorsements will always be big business. While it can be a very effective tactic, many of us media cynics see it as a way of deceiving the naïve and misleading the public. While it can’t be stopped, perhaps more regulation and control is in order as the lines can often be somewhat hazy.
What are your thoughts? Is it acceptable for PR professionals to consider celebrities to endorse their products, particularly via Twitter? Or do you think there should be more regulation by independent watchdogs?