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From Joan Collins' famous Cinzano commercial in the 1970's, to Bob Hoskins British Telecom ads in the 80's, marketers and advertising directors have been aware of the power of celebrity for decades.
But in recent years there has been an explosion in the appetite for celebrity gossip - and now showbiz news has entered the mainstream news agenda with force.
So what does this mean for marketers who are embarking on a celebrity backed campaign?
Here at UTalkMarketing we have used our industry knowledge to put together a comprehensive guide to celebrity endorsement.
Our paper will cover:
Celebrity saturation in the UK today
Top celebrity earners from endorsements in the UK
Why use a celebrity? Advantages and disadvantages of a famous face
When celebrity endorsement goes wrong - famous case studies
But what about those with the purchasing power - the UK consumers? To clarify their thoughts, on the faces that invade their buying habits every day, we have independently surveyed 2000 people. This brand new research will examine:
Which celebrity is most or least likely to persuade them to part with their cash?
Which celebrity face do they trust most?
What are their favourite advertising campaigns of recent times?
Does the presence of a celebrity really help sales figures or have consumers become immune to fame in 2008?
Celebrity Endorsement in 2008
there has been an explosion in the interest of celebrity in the last decade - but what are the impacts on celebrity endorsements? Choosing the wrong face can send a product into consumer oblivion - whilst the right one can propel a brand to global awareness.
Clark Turner, editor www.utalkmarketing.com said: "Today, thanks to reality television, it seems that every Tom, Dick or Harry can become a celebrity. Marketers have to think very carefully about the message their chosen 'face' is sending out. For example, if a low profile reality TV star is chosen to promote a particular product some consumers may feel it was all the marketing budget could stretch too!"
Another problem faced by ad directors is making sure their chosen ambassador has credibility in the field.
Clark continues: "Product and celebrity must go together in all spheres of the market. ABC 1 consumers want to see aspirational celebrities such as Keira Knightley in the ads they watch. Whereas brands like Iceland who appear to have more of a C2D2 audience, choose a face such as Kerry Katona who has a more down to earth image."
Top Celebrity Earners in the UK
David Beckham - £25.7m (Adidas, Motorola, Pepsi, Armani and Calvin Klein)
'Golden Balls' is the undisputed king of celebrity endorsement. Though some commentators may say his star is beginning to wane, no other British sportsman has the looks, lifestyle, connections and glamour, which have resulted in the global appeal of Brand Beckham. Key sponsors include Adidas (£10m) in which his deal secures him a share of annual profits, Motorola (£2.5m), Georgio Armani (£9.7m over three years) Pepsi (£2.5m) and Calvin Klein (£1m).
Kate Moss - £11m (Rimmel, Topshop + others)
Dubbed 'Cocaine Kate' by newpapers after being exposed as a user in 2005, some pundits predicted the supermodel's downfall. But Croydon's finest export has bounced back from the brink and is now more bankable than ever with an annual income of around £11m from endorsements alone. Her biggest sponsors include Rimmel (£3m), Burberry (£1m), Stella McCartney (£1m), Dior (£500k), Calvin Klein (£1.5m), Nikon (£1.5m), Roberto Cavalli (£800k) and Topshop (£1m).
Wayne Rooney - £9m (Nike, Electronic Arts, Coca-Cola)
Whilst he may not have the conventional appeal of England team-mate David Beckham, the 21 year old from Liverpool can certainly hold his own in the global marketability stakes. He currently has contracts with Nike (£5m - £500k every year for 10 years), Electronic Arts (£3m) and Coca-Cola (£1m) - though it seems one of his main rivals may be fiancee Colleen who is proving a hit with marketers and consumers alike!
Coleen McLoughlin - £6.9m (Asda, Diet Coke, Nike and LG)
The Liverpudlian school girl once only known for being Wayne Rooney's other half is now a bankable commodity in her own right. She said in a recent interview: "I like to think I'm someone people relate to" - and it seems the girl-next-door image is working. Recently she has won lucrative contracts with George @ Asda (£3.5m), Nike (£1.5m) and Diet Coke (£500k) amongst others, meaning this WAG won't be reliant on hand outs from her other half to indulge in her love of shopping.
Spice Girls - £5m (Tesco)
The 'Fab Five' marked their 2007 comeback by signing a heavy weight deal with supermarket giant Tesco - each member of the band reportedly bagging a cool £1m for appearing in the Christmas advertising campaign.
John Terry - £4m (Umbro and King of Shaves)
The current England football Captain is said to pick his endorsement deals carefully - so far he has only put his name to King of Shaves (£1m) and sports label Umbro (£3m)
Gary Lineker - rumoured to be £3m (Walkers)
Gary Lineker has been the face of Walkers crisps for 10 years and even spawned a brand called Salt 'n' Lineker. According to Walkers, his campaigns have helped the company sell an extra 1.4 billion bags of crisps in seven years! The firm saw sales grow from 1.34bn to 2.75bn packs a year - or a 105% surge in sales between 1995 and 2002, when Walkers launched its "No More Mr Nice Guy" campaign featuring the star.
Girls Aloud - £2.25m (Sunsilk and Samsung)
Pop's sexiest quintent were appointed ambassadors of the Sunsilk hair care range in 2007 for £1.25m and additionally to Samsung for a cool £1m. Additionally, Sarah Harding received £100k to be face of leading lingerie brand Ultimo and Cheryl Cole, along with her footballer husband can be seen promoting the National Lottery and Coke Zero (amounts undisclosed).
Jamie Oliver - £1.2m (Sainsburys)
Jamie Oliver has been the public face of Sainsburys since 2000, appearing on television and radio advertisements and in-store promotional material. In the first two years these advertisements were estimated to have given Sainsbury's an extra £1 billion of sales or £200 million gross profit.
Myleene Klass - £1m (Marks and Spencer)
After appearing on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here in a white bikini, high street giant Marks and Spencer was quick to sign up the then pregnant musician to feature in their women's wear campaign alongside Twiggy and Erin O'Connor.
Advantages of celebrity endorsement
In a crowded market, use of the right face provides immediate stand out and recognition. Brands aim to draw on the recognition factor to increase the 'halo effect' around their product. In theory, credibility of the celebrity is subconsciously transferred to the brand - increasing consumer trust and awareness of the product in the process.
Use of the right celebrity can accelerate brand building much more quickly than a non-celebrity based marketing strategy. For example, in the US, design company Salton Inc. took their kitchen grill to market in 2000 to a largely uninterested public and with little success. Some time after, ex heavyweight boxer George Foreman became spokesperson for Meineke and McDonald's, Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine and single-handedly catapulted the average household-grilling product to worldwide sales of over $ 375 million in grills in 2002 alone.
In today's celebrity obsessed culture, a famous face instantly makes a product more press worthy - whether a personality is photographed using their chosen product in every day life to staged photo-calls, the job of the PR department is made much easier when fighting for column inches.
Disadvantages of celebrity endorsement
Celebrities have become increasingly savvy as to their consumer influence and as such are charging higher and higher fees to brands meaning it is only global brands that are able to afford some exorbitant rates.
It can be incredibly expensive for brands to gain 'exclusivity' over their face - e.g. In 2007 Denise Van Outen fronted a TV advertisement for Morrisson's supermarket and also Del Monte fruit in very quick succession which could potentially cause consumer confusion.
Brands can unwittingly suffer from negative press should their chosen ambassador be involved in any scandal or misconduct.
Very high profile celebrities can sometimes overshadow the product they are endorsing. In the USA, Chrysler famously spent $14m in a three year deal with singer Celine Dion who appeared in their commercials driving a Pacifica. However it soon became apparent the arrangement was increasing sales - but unfortunately, not those of the car.
Celebrity Endorsement Issues
By its very nature the world of celebrity can be an unpredictable one and when a famous face falls foul of its brand the consequences can be dire. Below are ten examples of celebrities who may have generated the wrong kind of attention for their sponsors:
Famed for his outlandish hair cuts in the 1990's David Beckham was the perfect ambassador for men's hair styling range Brylcreem - then in 2000 Golden Balls promptly shaved his head leaving consumers to scratch theirs in wonder at what he did with all that free product.
American sportsman O J Simpson starred in ads for Hertz Car Rental from 1988 but was hastily dropped from the campaign when allegations of his involvement with domestic abuse began to circulate in 1992, followed by a subsequent murder trial in 1994.
In 1998 Churchill Car Insurance was forced to drop funny man Vic Reeves as the voice of their bulldog after he was convicted of a drink driving offence.
In 2004, US dairy farmers responsible for the "Got Milk?" advertising campaign had to terminate the ads featuring the Olsen twins, after Mary-Kate checked into a treatment facility for a "health-related issue" that some publications reported as an eating disorder.
Model Kate Moss had a spectacular fall from grace in 2005 when the Daily Mirror exposed her alleged cocaine abuse. Following initial reports that she was to be dropped by many of her major sponsors, the Croydon supermodel has bounced back stronger than ever - with the so-called scandal almost heightening her allure and banking her an enviable £11m in 2007.
When retail giant Marks and Spencer hired Bryan Ferry as the face of their menswear line in 2007, they believed the king of cool would add kudos to the range. But bosses hastily distanced themselves from the singer when he reportedly admitted drawing inspiration from the aesthetics of Nazi Germany.
The brand faced further upset later in the year when the face of their credit card and financial services Jodie Kidd was exposed as an alleged cocaine user by the News of the World. The society model was promptly released from her £250 000 a year contract.
In 2007 Nicole Kidman famously took the Daily Telegraph to court for reporting that she was using her 'favourite' Jo Malone perfume at a recent press junket. Kidman, who received £3m to be the face of rival perfume house Chanel, victoriously sued the paper for libel citing that the report made her look deeply unprofessional.
Essex chef Jamie Oliver has been the face of supermarket giant Sainsburys since 2000 but in January 2008 caused potential embarrassment to the brand when he reportedly attacked the chain for not turning up to a public debate on chicken farming. He later apologised in an open letter to Sainsbury's staff UK wide.
Kerry Katona has fronted the Iceland frozen food campaign since her victory on TV program 'I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here' in 2004. However in recent times, the mother-of-three has been subject to some negative press which has led to speculation that she will be dropped as the face of the chain. Iceland vigorously denied this claim in January 2008.
UtalkMarketing UK Celebrity Influence Survey 2008
In any study of celebrity endorsement it is key to consider the habits and opinions of the purchasing public.
UTalkMarketing used an independent market research body to poll 2000 UK consumers on a variety of topics including celebrities most and least likely to influence purchase, most trusted faces and the overall effectiveness of using a famous face in ad campaigns.
10 celebrities MOST likely to influence a purchaser into buying a product or service:
Percentage of vote (%)
Denise Van Outen
10 celebrities LEAST likely to influence a purchaser into buying a product or service:
Percentage of vote (%)
Most trustworthy celebrity brand ambassadors:
Percentage of vote (%)
Denise Van Outen
How does presence of a celebrity make you feel about a brand?
Celebrity endorsed products on the market today - are there too many?
Does the use of a celebrity have any impact on your likelihood to buy?
So whilst UK consumers are clear on which faces they do and don't respond to, the remainder of the findings could come as quite stark reading for marketers and ad directors:
With some celebrities commanding six figure sums for their endorsement deals, marketers need to question whether they are making best use of their budgets. Some of the biggest names in showbiz including Kate Moss and David Beckham fare poorly on both the persuasion and trust scales, with the more 'everyday' faces such as Myleene Klass and Gary Lineker resonating more successfully with consumers.
For more information check out www.utalkmarketing.com