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Brand ambassadors and celebrity endorsement- how much is too much?

Here at Smoking Gun PR we understand that brand ambassadors and celebrity endorsement can make a big difference to a product. Having the right face, voice, or expert opinion backing a campaign potentially works wonders when it comes to winning the public’s trust. But there’s also a flip side.
Helen Mirren, the face of L’Oreal, recently confessed during a panel hosted by the brand that the moisturiser she helps advertise ‘probably does f*c! all’. If you missed it, here’s what she actually said…

“I’m an eternal optimist – I know that when I put my moisturiser on it probably does f— all, but it just makes me feel better. I’ve always said to L’Oreal as well that I will only do what makes me feel better.”

Clearly this isn’t the party line, and as The Telegraph reported shortly after the statement was made, L’Oreal executives have not responded publicly at the time of writing. Nevertheless, we can assume with some degree of certainty that they weren’t particularly impressed.
Stars from the reality TV hit Love Island- Kem Cetinay, Alex Beattie, and Marcel Somerville- are now set to be the face of fashion firm boohooMan after signing a multimillion pound deal. Meanwhile, Amber Davies, who also appeared in the show, has shacked up with Motel Rocks to the tune of £500,000. All impressive deals, the real question is are these tie-ins actually worth it for the brands in question?
According to a study conducted by Morning Consult earlier this year, 30% of respondents said they had ‘not much’ faith in stars recommending products to them. This comes at a time when we know that the biggest sway in terms of purchasing decisions can be found in review by other members of the public, ideally those we know personally, but also complete strangers, so long as they didn’t get paid money to voice their thoughts.
All of which would suggest that brand ambassadors and celebrity endorsements aren’t worth the paper the cash is printed on. However, if you look further into these numbers the waters get a little muddier. 39% of those asked believe that the celebrity knows nothing about the product at all, and is only in the spot for money and exposure. But then 54% would also assign at least some of the blame to the celebrity endorser if a product does not meet their expectations.
Interestingly, it’s the digital and media literate millennials that put the most stock into claims made by famous people, a stat that may be explained by a tangible boom in the perception of celebrity culture- these days it’s fine to be a personality for the sake of personality, rather than a rock or film star first.

Show me the money

So whilst the jury is out, or at least a little confused, when it comes to whether the public believes celebrity endorsements, the revenue figures can’t lie. Last year, Forbes wrote a piece on how brands should use celebrities for endorsements, citing a market watch claim that sales can grow by around 4% immediately after a product is aligned to a famous face. Stick prices also get a boost, with .25% increase in value once the announcement is made that a celeb is backing what you’re selling.
One key reason for this is memorability, even if trust and faith are red herrings. According to Ad Age, we are exposed to around 3,000 advertisements per day, and the vast majority go in one ear and out the other, or the equivalent in eyes. Putting a well known personality on an advert will almost guarantee it stands out from the majority, which is half the battle in terms of getting people to buy something.
But what do you think?

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