From Star to Brand Ambassador: How Celebrities Shape Consumer Choices

Celebrity promotion is a standard marketing practice in almost any industry. You can see it everywhere – from social media to billboards. It is so prominent that one might wonder how it influences consumer behavior.

Whether you want to use this method for your small student business or want to be aware of your shopping patterns, it is a fascinating research subject.

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Why and How Celebrity Advertisement Is Used

It is a marketing strategy that started in the 19th century and only grew more prominent. The idea is to get brand endorsement by partnering with a celebrity. It can be anyone well-known and loved by the general public and the target audience.

Such partnership is also beneficial for promoting non-profit organizations and raising awareness. Overall, star marketing is mainly used in three cases: 

  • To increase brand awareness in the long run;
  • To increase sales short-term;
  • To promote a new line, product, or branch.

For companies, it is crucial to understand who they decide to partner with and how it corresponds with their values. A celebrity’s audience needs to align with the company’s target audience. Otherwise, the campaign might be unsuccessful.

Companies also choose this strategy to be on top of the competition and stand out from other similar producers. Partnering with famous people might change the narrative about the company and provide better PR.

Celebrity Endorsement Types

There are several options when it comes to partnering with someone. A company might want to pay them for one campaign or turn someone into a brand ambassador. The common types of such collaboration are:

  • Ads and commercials when someone is starring in the content;
  • Live event appearances of celebrities wearing apparel or enjoying a product;
  • Celebrity product lines when the company creates a new product or collection in partnership with a person;
  • Ambassador – a person who takes part in all actions mentioned above;
  • A spokesperson is similar to being an ambassador, but this term is used for non-profit organizations rather than brands.

In recent times, more people have gained access to such partnerships. It is no longer about A-list actors and athletes. Influencers are regularly partnering with brands on social media. 

It is also common to have such campaigns with people with a relatively small yet loyal following. Companies value influencers’ trustful relations with their audiences and want to capitalize on that.

Does Celebrity Endorsement Work?

Interestingly, the research in this regard shows different results and aspects. Here are some interesting studies to consider.

A study published in the Journal of Marketing Management in 2019 (35/3) provides exciting insights. It states that the relations between a celebrity and their audience can predict consumers’ views of the brand and purchasing behaviors.

It means that the effectiveness of such a partnership depends hugely on the type of relations with fans. Whether the audience sees a person as a role model is crucial. The tighter the connection between a person and the fanbase, the more positive response the brand gets.

Another valuable insight is that the amount of companies a celebrity promotes impacts consumer behavior. If a person partners with multiple brands simultaneously and features various ads, the audience is less likely to buy one of these products. It explains why ambassadors exist.

In such cooperation, a celebrity works exclusively with one brand in the industry. It creates a much stronger association between them. Thus, the audience is more likely to associate positively with the company. And customers are more likely to buy the product.

The study shows that the relations between companies, personalities, and audiences are complex and cover various factors. But the most successful campaigns deal with audiences that view a celebrity as a representation of their ideal self. So, it is someone they relate to on a deep level.

Another interesting study was published in the International Journal of Humanities and Applied Social Sciences in 2018 (3/11). It focused on Lebanese adults and their behaviors based on celebrity endorsement.

81% of respondents follow celebrities on social media. 29% of respondents have purchased something advertised by a famous person on social media. 18% said they might have done that but couldn’t be sure. It is important to note that such endorsement can have a subliminal influence besides the direct one. Also, 65% of adults agreed that celebrity marketing is more effective.

So the answer is yes, celebrity endorsement works. However, it is much more multifaceted than it seems at first glance.

It won’t make you buy something you hate. But it is powerful when it comes to the area of doubt (whether you need this product or not).


Risks of This Strategy

Every strategy has pros and cons, and this one is no exception. Evaluating the cons is crucial before a company partners with a famous person. Those are:

  • Overshadowing of the product by the celebrity. People tend to pay more attention to someone they already like than something they have never heard about.
  • Reputation risks by association. If a star gets negative attention or publicity, the shadow also affects the associated brand. A good example is the case of Tiger Woods.
  • Ineffectiveness due to a person promoting multiple brands of the same industry or non-compatible products.

Also, if a person’s values do not align with brand values, it can hurt the company’s reputation. It is vital to decide who to partner with based on deep market research and audiences.

In Summary

Celebrity advertising can be highly effective for brand awareness and sales. But it should be done with knowledge and care. Many factors come into play. And there are certain risks a company takes on while partnering with a famous person.

Article by Born Realist