Celebrity Endorsement Versus Brand Goals-How Should It Be Done?


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By Solabomi Okwonkwo

Fascination with celebrities is an act that is still trendy and would not go away anytime soon. The growing number of reality shows – from Keeping Up With The Kardashians to the Love and Hip-Hop, the burgeoning amount of gossip blogs and the huge number of followers these celebrities have on social media represent a clear evidence of this fact.

Celebrities are the personalities that are well known in public either because of their credibility or of their attractiveness or because of both of these. To leverage this, advertisers use celebrities in their advertisement to increase the effectiveness and heighten the credibility of commercials.

Celebrity endorsement in advertisement is the use of testimonial evidence or endorsement, a style that features a highly believable or likeable source endorsing the product. The increase of celebrities endorsing brands has been steadily increasing over the past years. Marketers acknowledge the power of celebrities in influencing consumer- purchasing decisions.

The extent of the reach and popularity garnered from the medium is so staggering that it would only make sense that professional marketers relate and interact with them regularly as the midwife or the bridge for reaching out to the teeming consumers. Thus the connection between celebrities, consumer brands and corporate entities is gradually becoming an indivisible and an enduring one.

The involvement of celebrities to get their messages across to target consumers only testifies to the fact that brands and big corporations’ relationship is here to stay.

These partnerships create an authentic story that last longer than a traditional campaign. The marketing is woven into the celebrities’ content, plans and projects, as well as in traditional advertising for the brand.

In what form or how?
The engagement of celebrities for brand endorsement grew from 15% in the year 1979 up to 25% in 2004 in the United States of America, while celebrities’ brand endorsements rose astronomically to 70% in Japan within the same comparative years.
There are hundreds of well-known examples of celebrity endorsements and most of which were hugely successful due to proper endorsement strategy. Brands can capture consumers’ attention by linking the celebrity’s image and social standing with the positive attributes of the product concerned, which then leverages on the sway which these celebrities have on their teeming number of followers.

Celebrities can also build a brand’s equity. Before Michael Jordan was starring in Nike advertisements, Nike products were predominantly running or tennis shoes. Jordan began advertising for Nike as a rookie in the NBA in 1984. As he rose to stardom, Nike’s basketball brand exploded. Instead of selling primarily running and tennis shoes, Nike began selling all basketball gear. To this day, Michael Jordan remains the most recognizable Nike athlete and the basketball sector of Nike is thriving more than ever (Kellner, 2001). Nike brought its brand equity to new heights by simply having Michael Jordan endorse their products.

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On the surface, it is hard to believe that simple leveraging on the influence of any one individual or personality can influence consumer buying decisions. For example, Nike RZN golf ball has witnessed a $50 million revenue growth upon signing on Tiger Woods in 1996 as its brand ambassador. Other examples abound include, but are not limited to:
• Nike’s golf line grossed more than $250 million in annual sales. In 2000, Woods re-negotiated a five-year contract estimated at $125 million. (what is its relationship with the stated above)
• The Jamie Oliver’s deal with Sainsbury was said to have resulted in an extra £1 billion in sales. Gary Lineker and assorted celebrity chums pushed Walkers Crisps profits up by 105%. (1995 – 2002)
• Indian Titan Watches used another leading Bollywood icon Amir Khan to endorse the brand. The campaign helped Titan achieve a growth of 45% in volume sales and 52% in value. (2004 – 2005)
Here in Nigeria, the engagement of celebrities has increased especially since the revolution of information telecommunication in the country. At first, sports celebrities, that is, football stars like Kanu Nwankwo, JJ Okocha, Obafemi Martins and others enjoyed the patronage of the telecom industry until focus was shifted to Nollywood actors and musicians.

At the moment, companies ranging from manufacturing to service providers and even Government agencies are using these celebrities to promote their products, drive awareness and improve the brand image or perception.

Corporate organizations like Samsung, Nokia, Promasidor, Unilever, GLO, MTN and Etisalat have brand ambassadors like Kate Henshaw& Flavour (Onga), Banky W (Samsung & CIROC), FunkeAkindele (OMO,, Iyanya (MTN), Don Jazzy (JW, Loya Milk), Tiwa Savage, Olamide (GUINNESS), Burna Boy, Odunlade Adekola (GLO), Uche Jumbo (NOUN) and others endorse their products, also feature in their advertising and other marketing campaign platforms. The culture of brand endorsements includes review of old endorsements and signing of new ones depending the raves of the moment, a criterion set or brand needs.

Celebrity advertising has been utilized in many successful and unsuccessful campaigns.

It is, however, a major concern to see how much brand custodians spend on these endorsements without fully maximizing the marketing potential that it presents.

These series was conveyed to cater for this sole reason.

We will take a look at the different ways we can engage celebrities to enhance our brand image and perception, increase the market share and massive brand awareness and in the end achieve our overall marketing objectives.

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