Marketers to Ponder Use of Celebrities in Ads

Using celebrities is a time-​tested method of promoting products and services. One study estimates that celebrities show up in at least 15% of advertising. But in this age of social media and brand evangelists, does celebrity advertising still work? The results of a recent analysis suggest that successful outcomes may be all about which celebrity is used.

Ace Metrix recently studied the topic of celebrity endorsements. For the most part, their research indicates that using a celebrity in an ad did not have the desired effect: generating more sales.  Two of the biggest problems encountered with using celebrities in ads include:

  • Failure to make a connection between the product and celebrity
  • Choosing a celebrity who is polarizing and therefore not acceptable to a large part of the target audience

Ace Metrix analysts surveyed users who watched TV ads under a number of different engagement levels and measured the results of celebrity and non-​celebrity impact on factors such as persuasion, attention, likeability and desire. In almost all cases, the use of a celebrity in an ad failed to generate brand lift. Notable exceptions, those who generated the best lift, included Oprah Winfrey, Ed Burns and Carl Weathers. Celebrities who had a particularly negative impact on ads included Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong.

As a result of this study, analysts concluded that while a celebrity endorsement may help a brand, there is no substitute for creativity and humor in an ad.  Marketers may reconsider which celebrities they use or how they portray them in ads in order to more closely connect with their target audience.

[Source:  Celebrity Endorsements: Exposing a Myth of Advertising Effectiveness. Ace Metrix​.com. January 2011. Web. 26 Jan. 2011
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.