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The Popularity of Celebrity Endorsements

Posted on the 04 December 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost

Celebrities are hardly strangers to requests for sponsorship or public advocacy. But how effective are they? In this article, we’ll examine some popular celebrity endorsements from across the years.

1. George Foreman – Meineke and the George Foreman Grill. It’s hard to believe that boxing champion George Foreman did not originally have anything to do with the Lean Green Grilling Machine that’s “so good, I put my name on it”. The low-fat grilling machine is now synonymous with the boxer’s name – proving Daniel J Boorstin’s saying that “A sign of a celebrity is that his name is often worth more than his services.” Foreman’s name alone, as well as his catchy slogan, has sold over 100 million grills since the brand’s introduction in 2004. Funnily enough, wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan claimed that he was offered the contract first, but missed his agent’s call because he was “picking up the kids”. He did try to market his own grill later down the line – the ‘Hulk Hogan Ultimate Grill’ – but it hasn’t experienced quite the astronomical success that George Foreman’s product has. Foreman also is the spokesman for Meineke, a popular chain of car repair stores.

2. The Madden brothers – KFC. Social media brings a whole different slant to the use of celebrity names for product endorsement. Rather than the marketing tool being completely passive – like traditional media – social media marketing allows consumers not only to interact with the product (through ‘Likes’ and so on), but directly with their celebrity of choice (through ‘Comments’, ‘Tweets’ and ‘Messages’). Nowhere is this more evident than KFC’s Australian ‘Good Times’ campaign. The premise is that Aussie Facebookers can leave a post on the KFC Australia wall explaining what ‘good times’ are in their country. The Madden brothers (of Good Charlotte fame) will then take those ideas and write a song. It’s a marketing dream: the product (KFC food) is authentic and attractive, the celebrities (Benji and Joel Madden) are engaging and well-known, and consumers can interact with them in a specific manner. Even better, their interactions will create a product that will be heard by millions of people. It’s a very attractive marketing campaign, demonstrating the best of celebrity-endorsed social media marketing.

3. Tiger Woods – Nike. We’ve spoken about two successful product endorsements, but Tiger Woods’ involvement with Nike is a great example of how campaigns can fall if the celebrity’s reputation turns sour. In 2000, Woods re-signed the contract he’d held since 1996 to promote Nike’s golf balls. Nike had seen year-on-year growth at around $10 million a year, grossing $250 million in the millennial year. The new contract – valued at $125 million – was good for another five years.

All was not rosy, however. In 2009 the press picked up on a National Enquirer article suggesting that Woods might have been unfaithful to his wife. The fallout was spectacular, with Woods making a public apology. Nike, for better or for worse, decided to stick with Woods throughout the scandal. While this did (reportedly) save Nike money, the brand’s affiliation with so negative a celebrity endorsement has had a negative impact on Nike’s image overall. Still, any news is good news, as this graph demonstrates: Google searches for ‘Nike’ spiked at the time of the Tiger Woods scandal, and have been growing erratically ever since – thus proving that bad publicity is still publicity, and is still effective.


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