Celebrities are used in advertising around the world. The right celebrity, used in the right way, can undoubtedly be a powerful brand asset. But using a celebrity is no guarantee of effective advertising; overall, there’s very little difference between the performance of ads with celebrities versus those without. And there are pitfalls to using celebrities. To gauge whether a celebrity is right for your brand, you need to establish whether they are known, whether they are liked, and what they stand for, among your target audience.
WHO USES CELEBRITIES?
The use of celebrities in advertising varies enormously around the world. It’s highest in Japan and Korea, where over 40 percent of TV ads feature celebrities, and lowest in Ukraine, Sweden, and Canada, where the proportion is under 5 percent. It is 10 percent in the U.S., and 12 percent in the UK. There is no pattern of celebrity use by category, as this comparison of U.S., UK and China data shows.
ARE THEY EFFECTIVE?
Celebrity-based campaigns can be very effective.
In the U.S., one client had used a celebrity in some of its ads over a ten year period, and wanted to know if they should continue the relationship. Our analysis showed that the ads featuring the celebrity performed better on key measures than those without the celebrity. The celebrity had also become a strong branding device. We were able to estimate that the celebrity was worth over $5 million per year to the client. Since the contract cost considerably less than this, the client continued the relationship. In the UK, Barclaycard used the popular comedian Rowan Atkinson during the 1990s in a highly successful campaign. It was hugely enjoyed and well recalled, and it communicated the intended messages. Barclaycard’s share of new cardholders rose from 15 percent to 25 percent in five years. However, there is very little difference overall between the performance on most key measures of ads with celebrities versus those without; this includes...
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