Use of celebrities in advertising and its impact on advertising effectiveness can be gauged and how!
STAR POWER – Will the force be with you?
Anupma Suneja, General Manager, Synovate
Impact on Effectiveness
About the public’s taste, there is no dispute: consumers like gazing at stars. The average celebrity presenter is better liked than the average anonymous actor.
While the use of celebrities has been increasing given the public’s preference for them, the crucial question is: ‘How well do celebrities sell?’ For this, the scores on clutter awareness and persuasion for celebrity-endorsed ads were analysed; each commercial was evaluated against the existing category norm. To make the data comparable, the norm was given a theoretical value of 100, and the commercial score was indexed to that norm.
Analysis reveals that while the odds of attaining above average clutter awareness are healthy, the effectiveness on persuasion is lower.
Clearly, a celebrity adds value to a product’s selling value. However, it has been found that it is critical to have a good match between the product/message and the celebrity. The intensity of effectiveness for a star whose image and personality fits the product is seen to be extremely high vis-à-vis those where the fit is not high. So, that brings us to the question – Is there a magic formula in selecting the celebrity?
Is there a magic formula?
Using celebrities, needless to say, is a craft and technique. The effectiveness and ultimate selling force of stars rest on astute application of this technique.
Importance of the selling platform
The first question that must be answered is ‘why do I need a celebrity’. An exciting new product will probably sell by itself; alternatively, product improvement will generate its own momentum. However, in a highly competitive product category, a celebrity endorsement can separate the product from the crowd. But roping in a celebrity is not enough. Before choosing the celebrity it’s important that the communication strategy is finalised and then the personality is selected to fit in. While this may seem obvious, it is apparently not always the case. In many of the weaker examples, it was evident that the advertiser acquired the services of the celebrity and then developed the commercial to fit in.
Fit of the personality with the category and brand
The odds of using a star persuasively rests largely on finding a star whose personality and lifestyle match the values of the brand being advertised. This would directly impact the perceived credibility of the endorsement. Also, it is critical to find the right balance between star value and endorsement value, as an imbalance often results in the star overpowering the message, which further results in heightened clutter awareness but lower persuasive power.
It also becomes critical to evaluate if the selected celebrity’s star is fading, if the talent’s appearance in other commercials is diluting his/her effectiveness as a spokesperson for your brand. Further, any involvement in a controversy has been seen to directly impinge the consumer’s willingness to accept endorsement by such a person.
Some examples where star power was seen to be wasted:
·A leading film actress dressed in fineries was used to endorse a popular brand of detergent. Needless to say, consumers wanted to know why they should take her word.
·Use of a popular sports personality at one end was found extremely effective for energy drinks but the same personality stood out like a sore thumb endorsing writing instruments.
·Lack of showmanship of ‘ghazal’ singers left a campaign developed for a leading brand of paints fairly ineffective.
Given the fact that there has been learning across studies, there are definitely no hard and fixed rules on how to use celebrities effectively. Nevertheless, here are some of the ingredients that we found have contributed to the effectiveness of celebrity commercials.
·Set the overall selling strategy and copy platform and then find the celebrity to fit in.
·Make sure that the star’s image and personality are compatible with the product and the message.
·Give your star a logical reason to be recommending the product.
·Identify the basis on which your star should be regarded as an authority on the product.
·Involve your celebrity with the product; have him/her display, demonstrate and work with your product.
·Stars that have lost their glitter. This is especially critical for image-driven products targeted at the youth.
·Ups, down and controversies involving stars.
·Idiosyncratic styles and personalities of comedians – they may be hard to match with your product (and may not be taken seriously).