The Danger of Celebrity Endorsements

Brands and marketers love to use celebrities to help endorse companies and products. Consumers think that if a product is good enough for someone famous, then it’s good enough for us as well. Using a celebrity’s image in advertising campaigns helps to promote products and raise its awareness. Marketers hope that the positive response to a celebrity will be passed on to the products or brands.

There are advantages to this approach. Celebrity endorsements help consumers remember advertisements and makes a brand more memorable than a brand that lacks a celebrity. But it doesn’t always work; it can backfire on both the brand and the celebrity when things go astray. Since by their very nature, celebrities are often in the news, and are monitored constantly, a celebrity who takes an unpopular stand risks damaging his or her image, as well as the brand. Scandals can immediately provoke a negative consumer perception and harm the brand.

Recently, Cam Newton (quarterback for Carolina Panthers) offended sponsor Dannon with his off-hand remark to a female sportswriter that “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes” in reference to his football play. Newton was quickly censored by several groups who viewed the remarks as disrespectful to women, and Dannon ended its relationship with him to promote its Oikos Greek yogurt. (Newton has since apologized for the remark.)

How difficult is it to use celebrity endorsements?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance that celebrities play in brand endorsements.
  2. Have students list all of the celebrities-brands links they can remember.
  3. What makes these pairings successful?
  4. View Cam Newton’s remarks:
  5. Poll students as to their opinion.
  6. Divide students into team. Have each team select a product or brand and then find a celebrity who could successfully endorse the brand.
  7. Debrief: Poll students about their opinions about the suggested pairings. Why were the celebrities selected?

Source:  New York Times, other news sources

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