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Celebrities in Ads: Effective?

February 20, 2011

A recent topic among advertisers is just how effective can celebrities be in their clients’ ads. About a month ago I came across this study, and it made me start noticing how celebrities are used in ads. The study found that celebs did little to no help in selling a product. These types of ads tend to focus more on the celeb, than the product. Except, of course, if you own your own t.v. network like Oprah.  And consumers can often get lost in the creative message as they are paying too much attention to the celeb and little attention to the actual point of the ad. The study points out that celebrity ads underperformed more than any of type of ad – not something I would have thought before reading this article.

I get the sense that a lot of advertisers get an idea to use a certain celebrity because of his/her ‘wow’ factor or fan base before they even have the ad’s message developed. Rather, the celeb should be brought into the project once all the messaging and placement concepts have been decided on. Celebs are there to reinforce how a product can be used, not to steal the spotlight from the product at hand.

A few ads with celebrities gone bad:

1.Tiger Woods for Buick Cars – Really?!? Tiger Woods selling a car? Who thought that’d be a good idea?

2. Kobe Bryant for McDonalds – Does he actually eat McDonalds?

3. Lance Armstrong for Radio Shack – I can’t even tell the message of the ad.

Now, not all celeb ads are a bad thing. Some celebrities can help the product, such as Oprah with O.W.N. or Michael Jordan with Gatorade. Celebs need to fit the product so consumers can make that simple connection without losing concentration on the product. Advertisers need to remember the point of the advertisement, the product – not the celebrity!

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