One of the questions that we are asked often by our clients is whether we would recommend engaging a celebrity to endorse their product.
Our answer is always the same – do not hire a celebrity to boost your PR campaign as journalists will not write about something just because someone famous is plugging it. The other thing we point out is that endorsing celebrities is an extremely costly exercise so don’t even go there unless you have a budget that includes more than a few zeros.
When I try to recall celebrities and the brands they endorse a handful come to mind – Olivia Newton John raving about Nintendo’s memory game, Delta Goodrem saying she only drinks So Good and Australia’s Oarsome Foursome keeping fit and healthy by eating Gouldburn Valley Fruit.
The reason these names stick in my mind is because the brands have all invested a huge chunk of their marketing budget into both print and broadcast advertising campaigns that incorporate these celebrities raving about the product.
On the other hand if we were to send a press release to journalists saying that Olivia Newton John loves playing with her Nintendo we would most likely be asked for an interview to discuss everything but her endorsement and the release is very likely to experience a one way journey to the recycling bin! Reason being, this is simply not a newsworthy story – it might make a lovely (and hopefully effective) advertisement that returns a good ROI for Nintendo but it is not a newsworthy angle for a journalist writing an article.
I can think of plenty of other angles about this product (Nintendo – you know where to find me) that would make a great story but the fact that they have a brand ambassador is not one of them.
There may be one exception to this rule and that is when it comes to celebrities endorsing a weight loss service or product. Magda Szubanski has very publicily lost a quarter of her body weight with the help and sponsorship from Jenny Craig. Not only has Magda appeared in paid advertisements for the brand, but she has had several feature length articles written about her weight loss.
We all know certain segments of the media love writing about losing weight so providing them with a high profile person to focus on, they will snap it up. Jenny Craig obviously did very well from this high profile weight loss crusade as Dicko is now launching the Jen4Men brand.
The other thing to consider is celebrities playing up. Drink driving, drug busts, lewd behaviour, weight that has been regained – it may get your brand publicity but not necessarily the kind you are looking for.
Have you had any positive or negative experiences with using celebrity brand ambassadors or can you recall any fabulous or disastrous examples?