Tag Archives: advertising

When Celebrity Endorsements Go Bad: Adidas and Kanye West

Brands and marketers love to use celebrities to help endorse companies’ brands and products. Consumers think that if a product is good enough for someone famous that they respect, 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.

Celebrity endorsements can be a great boon to brands, linking brands tightly to the fortunes of the celebrity. We can think of many great partnerships and athletes and celebrities, but there have also been some notable failures.

A recent celebrity endorsement upset is the dissolution of the partnership between rapper and designer Kanye West and Adidas a result of antisemitic remarks made by West (Adidas manufacturers West’s Yeezy shoe line). The two have been in business together since 2016. The Yeezy partnership is estimated to account for 8% of Adidas’ annual sales.

While there are many news reports available about what happened and the timeline of the Adidas decision, the entire case is really about power of celebrity endorsements.

What is your opinion?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the effects of celebrity endorsements on brands.
  2. In teams, have students list both positive and negative celebrity endorsement deals.
  3. Show the 2016 announcement of the Adidas/Kanye partnership: https://www.adidas-group.com/en/media/news-archive/press-releases/2016/adidas-and-kanye-west-make-history-transformative-new-partnershi/
  4. A GMA video about the recent breakup can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/MFUH_A3mApg
  5. Poll students about their opinions about the situation.
  6. What should Adidas do to recover from the situation?

Source: Safdar, K. and Pacheco, I. (27 November 2022). Adidas top executives discussed risk of staff’s ‘direct exposure’ to Kanye West years ago. Wall Street Journal.

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Holiday Shopping: Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2022

Black Friday has become almost another holiday for consumers – and a challenge for marketers.  After two years shopping online, people were ready to go back to the stores.

The day after Thanksgiving saw millions of American consumers hit the stores and malls. In pre-pandemic years it was wild with crowds of shoppers piled into big box stores and malls for doorbuster promotions. But fewer people were out shopping early this year. Probably because retailers were offering Black Friday (early) deals in October to entice earlier holiday purchases (and lighten excess inventory).

Sales at brick-and-mortar stores grew roughly 18%; online purchases were up nearly 4%. Cyber Monday was definitely the biggest shopping day online with sales of $11.3 billion, an increase of 5.8% from 2021.

According to the National Retail Federation shopping survey, top gift categories are clothing, gift cards, and toys. But the national economy has an impact on spending, with most households planning to buy fewer gifts this year.

Some additional shopping highlights:

  • Shoppers spent an average of $325.44 on holiday purchases.
  • Overall shopping increased 8% from 2021.
  • Roughly 197 million shoppers visited stores or bought online between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.
  • Traffic in physical stores increased 17% from 2021.
  • Online spending reached more than $9 billion on Black Friday.
  • Online shoppers increased only 2.3% from 2021.

Despite inflation fears, we still like to give gifts.

What did you buy?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the changes in U.S. consumers’ shopping habits now that pandemic restrictions have been lifted.
  2. Poll students: What new shopping habits have the students formed?
  3. Where do they shop? Why? Online and in person?
  4. Show WSJ’s photos/article about the changes in store for Black Friday shopping: https://www.wsj.com/story/black-friday-is-back-with-smaller-crowds-5e22045b?mod=Searchresults_pos7&page=1
  5. Poll students about their shopping over Thanksgiving Week – Cyber Monday.
  6. Divide students into teams.
  7. In teams, have students tally how much they spent, which products were sought after, etc. See which teams are the biggest spenders.
  8. Have each team design a holiday sales promotion for a company of their choosing.

Source: Nassauer, S. (29 November 2022). Black Friday weekend drew millions of shoppers back to stores. Wall Street Journal.: WSJ Staff (25 November 2022). Black Friday is back, with smaller crowds. Wall Street Journal.

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Product Placements used to Increase Brand Awareness

Product placements are not unique to today’s times of streaming services. This has been going on for years as companies seek brand recognition and association with influencing characters. The first documented example of product placement was attributed to the Lumiere brothers in 1896 when they featured soap in a film “Washing day in Switzerland.” And in the 1930s Proctor & Gamble began sponsoring daytime dramas featuring its products.

From that humble beginning, today’s product placement has generated an industry worth an estimated $23 billion today.

Why product placement? As marketers know, consumers don’t like to watch commercials. Recent research indicates that 74% of online adults in the U.S. often skip ads. This makes it critical for marketers to get their product in front of consumers in a realistic and organic way. As consumers stream more content, product placements are up and advertising spending is trending down.

The best product placements fit the scene and reflect well on the characters and the brand. No one wants to see their product blow up in the hero’s face on TV! The product doesn’t even have to be show; characters who mention the brand are still effective (verbal product placement). Viewers also respond stronger to brands place earlier in the show rather than later. (Kind of like how Super Bowl ads are more expensive in the first quarter of the game than at the end.)

Core Hydration Water seems to be in a lot of places lately. It’s distinctive bottle shape and color are in various shows on several streaming services and networks: “He’s all that,” Riverdale,” “Nancy Drew,” “Love in the time of coronoa,” “Below Deck,” and “How I met your father.”

Dell Computers tries to be in as many places as possible to highlight its products: “Succession,” The sex lives of college girls,” and “And just like that.” Zillow, the real estate site, also uses product placements and product mentions: “Dead to me,” “Grace and Frankie,” and “Never have I ever.”

What have you noticed?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Show Hollywood Branded Website for examples of product placement: https://hollywoodbranded.com/
  2. Ask students to name three TV shows or movies that they recently viewed.
  3. Next, ask them to name at least three products that they can recall seeing in the show. Were those products there by accident?
  4. Show a video clip of one of the TV shows or movies. The clips can usually be found on www.hulu.com, www.youtube.com, and other sites.
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team choose two products they would like to have placed in a TV show.
  6. How would these products be incorporated? What is the show/movie? What is the desired result?

Sources:  Haigney, S. (24 June 2022). Anatomy of a product placement. New York Times.; Fossen, B. (14 September 2021). Product placement is a $23 billion business and growing. Here’s why brands keep betting on it. Fast Company.

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