Marketers have been using celebrities in commercials, print campaigns and promotions for years – because, done properly, it works.
The general belief is that advertising messages delivered by celebrities provide a higher degree of appeal, attention and, possibly, message recall than those delivered by non-celebrities.
Marketers also claim celebrities affect the credibility of claims made, increase the memorability of the message and create a positive halo effect that can be generalised to the brand.
Celebrities grab the viewer’s attention, but whether they boost sales of the product depends on proper celebrity casting. Selecting the right star to pitch your product means finding the person your audience can relate to – and your buyer wants to believe.
The appeal of Girls Aloud singer Cheryl Cole, who has achieved mass popularity as a judge on The X Factor, is unmatched in the fickle world of modern celebrity. The announcement in August that she had been appointed the face of L’Oréal’s Elvive shampoo and conditioner came as no surprise.
L’Oréal took the unconventional decision to drive consumers directly to its TV ads by advertising in the national press the time the ads featuring Cheryl Cole would air – an unusual strategy, but no doubt made easier by Cole’s star status.
In fact, the media hype in the weeks before the ad’s launch on 9 October created more buzz than the ad itself.
Between 7 and 11 September, the brand’s buzz scores increased nine points from -2 to +7. The ad itself created a smaller increase of one point from +5 on 8 October to +6 two weeks later. The campaign had the biggest impact on the brand’s general impression score, which rose from +20 to +24 over the same period.
Using celebrities in advertising is likely to continue long into the future and as long as the modern celebrity culture continues, there will be no shortage of talent to fill the need.
Getting the celebrity strategy right is a challenge, but, if done correctly, brands will achieve better response and higher sales volume.