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As a proud FSU almuna (Go Noles!) I like to occasionally take a few moments to giggle over Tim Tebow’s career. Most recently, I’ve been enjoying headlines like “This T-Mobile ad is the closest Tebow will ever get to the Super Bowl”
It’s cute, I’ll give him that. But will it be effective? A recent study by Ace Metrix says no.
Ace Metrix recently created a white paper on the Impact of Celebrities in Advertising. This extended analysis of the 2011 version reviewed more than 1,200 ads with celebrity endorsements and compared their effectiveness with 18,000 other ads. All chosen ads aired between January 1, 2012 and October 24, 2013, so there was roughly two years of data.
Ace Metrix ranked the ads on seven different criteria with an overall score. The criteria included desire, relevance, change, attention, information, likeability, and emotion. As you can see in the chart below, ads with celebrity spokespeople fared poorer than ads without celebrities all across the board.
The study defined “celebrity” as either an outside, paid endorsement or a fictitious brand character. For example, two celebrities that actually fared well in the study were Ellen DeGeneres of JC Penney and “Mayhem” played by Dean Winters for Allstate.
This data proves that paying an A-lister (or D-lister) large sums of money doesn’t always guarantee a touchdown. First, the partnership needs to make sense. With celebrity endorsements moving off of the TV screen and into social media, the relationship needs to be one that the audience easily connects – like Nike and athletes or Red Bull extreme sports. A celebrity partnership that’s only for the cameras won’t be well received; the relationship needs to keep going 24/7.
Also, the message needs to be clear. Audiences don’t want to watch an ad that simply reads, “My name is [insert movie star here] buy X product.” They want a stronger sell than that. Ace Metrix found that when the celebrity was in a supplemental role – playing second fiddle to strong copy and a cohesive argument – the ads were successful. Believe it or not, audiences are actually paying attention instead of chasing the shiny objects before them.
Create Your Message First
Creating an ad that is good by itself is a good start. Remember, celebrities are just pretty faces that support a quality product and messaging.
Keep Your Industry in Mind
How does your target audience feel about the spokesperson? How does this spokesperson relate to the industry? The more you have to stretch the connection between the spokesperson and the product, the less effective the message will be.
For example, if you have to spend precious seconds of your ad explaining who the celebrity is and why they need the product, you have a bad connection. You never see athletes explain who they are and why they need Gatorade, right?
Look for Opportunities to Dig Deeper
What PR events can your spokesperson attend or host that can involve the product? How can they bring the product to social media? Are there other native advertising options? If you’ve already nabbed a celebrity, try to get the most out of them.
Athletes as a whole didn’t fare on the performance chart of successful endorsements, with Drew Brees for Nyquil, Blake Griffin for Kia and Lebron James for Samsung gracing the bottom of the chart. Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand, had one of the best ads on the list. If Tebow wants a fighting chance of being a first string spokesperson, this super bowl ad better be well received.