Marketers use persons who have attained celebrity status to serve as their spokespersons for their products. Most celebrities are hired by companies to launch their products and services. These are renowned individuals such as movie stars, athletes, and entertainers, and to some point politicians (Belch, 2001). When a firm decides to use endorsement strategy as a tool for communication, the main aim is to expose the product. In celebrity endorsement strategy, a new brand is given a new unique for the product name. Other than the new name, the product is given identity of the endorser. The endorser is a celebrity, which implies that the product has been approved by such celebrity. According to Riezebos (2002), it is advisable to use celebrity for advertisement of a product if there is a value-addition to the product (Pringle).
Companies are promoting their brands through the celebrities’ advertisement, hoping that these stars will boost the effectiveness in marketing of their products. Producers are trying to convey information to their customers. To develop effective promotional campaigns, companies select celebrities appropriately to different media channels (Till and Shimp). This is to ensure that the correct message is communicated to the right audience (consumers). Furthermore, the source that sends the message to consumers is the celebrities (Belch). The choice of celebrity depends on the product type and how his/her character will enhance the awareness for the product.
Advertisers are parting with millions of dollars to feature celebrities in their advertisements, with hope that these public icons will bring the magic to their products by endorsing them. Though not always that money is spent on incorporating celebrities in the advertisement of products, while at the same time not all celebrities’ endorsement bring the successes to the goods or services advertised. This is mostly the cases when the perceived stars get their names tarnished through scandals, such as drugs abuse or premarital affairs (Jones).
A successful advertisement must penetrate the present highly chaotic media environment and win the attention of readers, listeners or viewers. It must have enough influence on targeted consumers such that the goods or services advertised stand out among others. The researches in the field of marketing have found that using celebrities in advertisement delivers a quality in terms of memorability and popularity impact. Gallup and Robinson Inc. analyzed 248 celebrities related print advertisement, and found that they scored 34% percent higher than non-celebrity ads in creating awareness. The awareness of product is measured in terms of memories it creates in the public.
However, the use of stars in advertising is not a sure way for awareness. The most influential factors that catches the memories in the print advertisement where celebrity is used is the popularity of the star hired and the ease with which the celebrity is recognized in the advertisement. The well known and popular celebrities create higher levels of awareness for the product being advertised. Consumers are interested in celebrities’ lives, both private and professional. Most people listen and comment on what is said by or about certain celebrity. The familiarity with celebrity encourages the public to pay attention to the ad in which they appear. A popular celebrity, therefore, create better awareness for the goods or services in promotion. Where the star used in the advertisement is little known or hard to be recognized, their impact is minimized. A case in the scenario is where Telly Savalas put on a hat while advertising the Gillette Twinjector; the ad recorded a normal impact. Later, when he took off the hat and revealed his famous bald, the awareness level of Gillette Twinjector doubled (Guthey).
It is not sufficient to have an advertisement that just break through the media clutter and achieve awareness among the targeted consumers. To have a full effect, advert must persuade its viewer, reader or listener to feel attracted to the ad and the products or services advertised. The intention to purchase and use a service or product should be influenced by the advertisement. To this effect, the public’s perception of the celebrity used to endorse certain product or service is of great importance. Consumers will be looking for the trustworthiness of celebrity in endorsement of the product, seeking whether the stars are endorsing the product out of real interest or simply for the payment. In a survey conducted among about 600 magazine readers, it was found that only 24% of the respondents believed that the stars appear in ads for a genuine interest in the service or product they endorse. Approximately 90% of the respondents believed that publicity and monitory reasons were influential in celebrities’ involvement in advertisement of goods and services. Such perceptions are not a surprise, considering the news reports about Michael Fox, then Pepsi spokesman, being drinking Coke. This and other stories like it reflect the negative side of celebrity-related advertisements (McAuley).
However, faced with real celebrity ad, public often is likely to rate stars highly on their various characteristics, as opposed to non-celebrities used in advertisement. For example, girls in colleges rated Jacqueline Smith in an ad on Kmart for her body figure significantly higher in trustworthy likeability and attractiveness than a non-celebrity young and professional model involved in the same advertisement. There is a radiance effect. Celebrities enjoy higher rating because they are stars.
Celebrities are often more persuasive in the advertisement than other endorsers. The product tends to be more favorable among the consumer when it is associated with a star. It has been proved that the endorsement attributed to a celebrity generates higher intention to purchase; hence, more positive scores are found for purchase intentions where celebrity is used in advertising of stuffs.
Advertisers will bring in a new star to advertise an already existing product. There are those who have reaped plentifully in these situations. For example, Amoco Oil campaign used Johnny Cash in their advertisement; this increased awareness for the campaign in times of low media coverage and also changed the company’s image among users. Unilever’s Lux beauty soap has led in the market for decades, selling in more than 70 nations worldwide. The company’s strategy has been to use the top models and film actresses in their advertisement. Celebrities persuade consumers to purchase. One of the factors that are believed to influence the persuasiveness of a celebrity is the appropriateness of the star for approving certain service or product. The appropriateness is the connection that exists between the product and the personality of the celebrity. Thus, the selection of a celebrity is a crucial decision for the success of the advertisement (Cherington).
The most fundamental aspects that advertisers must embrace in that endorsement by celebrities cannot take the position of the all-inclusive brand building. As branding develops, a discipline producer ought to be cautious to make use of all possible medium of communication rather than relying on celebrities’ endorsement. Although celebrities’ endorsement strategies are an effective tool of advertisement, it should be designed cautiously, putting into consideration all the possibilities. It should be clear for the companies deploying celebrities to advertise that having celebrity endorsement of their goods or services is not a goal; rather it is just part of communication that supplements the broad goal of marketing.