There was in interesting piece in The Observer’s supplement from The New York Times this weekend. Entitled ‘Persuasion Tactics’ it looked at the seemingly unstoppable rise in the use of the “Celebrity Pitchman” in advertising. Apparently stars featured in 14% of ads in the USA,( it’s probably much the same in the UK), 24% of the ads in India and an astonishing 45% in Taiwan.
Of course, celebrity endorsement in advertising is not new. Sometimes it works brilliantly adding short term impact and long term emotional engagement. My favourite, still, Cinzano lifted as a brand by Joan Coliins and Leonard Rossiter. Sometimes it patently does little and the celebrity is noticed but not the brand.
The changes in celebrity pitching, as the article suggests, are driven by two factors. First is the sheer omnipresence of the stars, not just in their own arenas- sport, movies, music- but on the web and in celebrity magazines feeding a voracious public appetite. The second factor is that many of the stars are not only bigger brands than those they endorse, they are more skilful brand managers. They, the Jay-Zs, the J-Lo’s,the Beckhams, are in the driving seat.
They understand that aside from relevance (hopefully) they bring their charisma, their energy, their success, and the force of their personality to reinforce the brand’s pitch.
When professional companies are pitching their services they understand, or should do, that letting their personalities shine though is what wins. Not obscuring them behind obscure charts.