When Celebrity Endorsements Hurt the Brand

celebrity endoresements hurting the brandCelebrity endorsements are golden as so many want to be them, feel a closeness to them and the more we see them the more we know them and want to have what they have. This is why celebrity endorsements work and sell product. Think Gatorade. They have cornered the athletic market and replaced water as a hydrant. Drink Gatorade and you will be the athlete of the century. The water companies are not standing up nor are the fitness folks saying water is the best hydrant. Gatorade has even become a staple in celebrations in rewarding a coach with a Gatorade bath after the big one. The celebrity endorsements and also their official sponsorships have made Gatorade what is in sports. I know my son at 6 sees it and believes that drinking Gatorade will make him stronger and a better football player. “They say they drink it so I should as I want to be like them.” Like them … that is what celebrity endorsements are all about. We want to be them so we act like them.

 Being Like Them

In marketing we want consumers to want to be like them so they can act like them as they trust and believe. The brand message has been received and they buy. They have to believe and who better to believe from than those that we want to be like? We innately are selfish insomuch as we want it all. We want their life having no idea what their life is. Have we ever considered what the life is like of a brand? We see it as so glamorous or at other times such a failure but never really in between. In between creates the uncertainty that makes us waiver. If we are not a fan of the celebrity endorser (enter Tiger Woods) we challenge the brand as if they keep the celebrity we may not buy despite loving the product but at the same time, if they dump the celebrity, we, as a buyer, become less important as the spotlight is off. Our own self worth in supporting the brand becomes diminished and we gravitate to the next one to gain that self worth once gain.

Celebrity Endorsement Hurting the Brand

A launch has all the ducks in a row … so we think. A big brand tests and tests (or not). When a celebrity endorsement does not connect with the brand as when we sit there and say, “no chance they would ever buy/use/care more about the brand than the paycheck, we lose confidence in the brand as we focus on the celebrity with the never would they instead of the brand itself. We see that now with Fiat and J-Lo. Jennifer Lopez is buzz worthy now. American Idol, a new album, a divorce – she is hot on the radar screen of what is scandalous and soothes the inner part of needing to know. But damit, J-Lo would¬† not be caught dead driving a Fiat 500. Come on, Fiat. That is the best you can give us? Did we think that we would see Eminem cruising down the streets of Detroit in Chrysler? Maybe but really we never thought of it that way. We had that emotional pull to the City of Detroit. We focused and believed not in him owning the car but in what Detroit is. The Motor City. Fiat wants us to believe that the celebrities will cruise down the streets in their bigger than a Smart Car but not even a comparison in coolness with a Miata; Really? J-LO WOULD NEVER OWN THE FIAT 500 (unless you gave it to her with a huge contract to drive it when the paparazzi was around). Yes there are many videos/commercials that promote her new song and even one that tries to emulate Chrysler on the city but yet the focus was on her, music and the car.

Why Fiat Failed

Fiat failed as it was about the celebrity. What do we know about the car other then a few little push of a button that they showed with well manicured nails and hair blowing for the sexyness? Yes it is sexy to own a great car but a Fiat? I know when I was a kid, my Aunt had a Fiat. It was silver and a semi convertible and a two seater. It was a hot car. It was small, and when it rolled up, it was worth looking at. The new Fiat is not necessarily worth looking at but then again is the Smart Car? I guess as it is different but there is not much sexy or alluring for a car that resembles a fish bowl in a way (unless you are still stuck in Wayne’s World). Fiat failed in thinking that we would believe that J-Lo would ever drive the car. We get that partnering with her sells her song, we get that the men want her now that she is single but do we get we should buy the Fiat? I do not think so. Hey Fiat, go after the Smart Car folks, as they are buyers and resonate and emulate the green movement. Maybe I am wrong here as maybe it was all about J-Lo getting her brand out there and attached on to Fiat. Doubt it as J-Lo does not need Fiat in the same way my son does not need Gatorade to jump start his game and become a better football player.

I may never be the voice that his heard within a big brand but I will always be the voice that is considered.

photo credit: The Official CTBTO Photostream

  • Suzanne,
    Most of the time we know the when, where, how and who, but the why can be illusive. You have a gift for getting to the heart of the ‘why’.

    • Marla

      I was thinking about you this am. Thank you for your kind words. I do always think about they why in things especially in advertising. It helps to work out behaviorally who we are and how we receive advertising. If we do not believe in the brand, we will not buy. Regardless where the uncertainty comes from (a celebrity, performance, ugly packaging, social status) it taints the brand and we are done. I am sure that Fiat and J-Lo thought this was a great partnership venture but J-Lo wins as she is getting exposure to her song/album and Fiat is getting … um what are they getting? I know they are spending. Who knows maybe sales will skyrocket. Maybe