April 19, 2024

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Think Phenomenal Law

Choosing the Right Celebrity Spokesperson

Throughout advertising history, there have been a myriad of celebrity spokespeople pitching everything from cereal to cellular phones. I’m sure you can all think of a few celebrity pitchmen and women both past and present: Bill Cosby for Jello, Joan Cusack for U.S. Cellular, Sam Waterston (of Law and Order fame) for Ameri-trade, and more recently William Shatner for Priceline.com come to mind.

At a glance these spokespeople would seem like obvious fits, but for advertisers the selection process is much more complex. Studies suggest that celebrity ads garner higher awareness than non-celebrity ads. And while I don’t doubt that awareness may increase, it’s imperative as marketers that we choose a representative who can carry the brand message and be a persuadable force to your consumer. That’s why I’ve outlined 3 simple strategies for choosing an effective spokesperson.

1. Identify the Brand Personality

What do I mean by “brand personality?” At our firm we define your brand as your unique claim of distinction. Your brand personality then, would be characteristics that define that claim. For example, the Volvo name is synonymous with safety, security and confidence. By attributing human characteristics to the brand, we identify key traits to look for in an effective spokesperson.

2. Determine Celebrity Credibility

In the end, the goal of any brand and its communications strategy is to influence purchase behavior. That’s why the credibility of a given spokesperson plays a crucial role in convincing an audience to select your particular brand. Your message becomes more powerful and believable when an endorsement carries some perceived authority.

While expertise certainly contributes to credibility of the spokesperson, I think traits such as likability, persuasiveness, and physical characteristics should also be considered while making your selection. One good example that comes to mind is Dennis Hopper for Ameriprise Financial. The “Dreams Don’t Retire” campaign talks about how Ameriprise is redefining financial planning, and encourages baby-boomers to achieve their retirement dreams. As a symbol of the revolutionary spirit of his generation, Hopper is the perfect choice to address baby-boomers about redefining their financial planning.

3. Remain Relevant to Your Target Demographic

When choosing a spokesperson, you must identify someone who will appeal to the demographics of your target audience.

In a recent example, Suddenlink Communications, a national cable, Internet and home phone service provider, wanted to gear their brand messaging towards a younger, more tech-savvy segment of their audience (Adults 18-34). Our firm proposed nationally recognized comedian, Mike Birbiglia, as their spokesperson. As a regular on Comedy Central, Birbiglia has a strong following on college comedy circuits and effectively markets his act through the Internet and social networking sites such as YouTube and Facebook. The campaign became a huge success for Suddenlink. With Birbiglia, their brand message suddenly became relevant to their target audience, and the results proved it.

Celebrity Spokespeople and Brands can be good for each other

In the end, pairing the right spokesperson with the right brand can amplify your marketing communications. A good candidate should be based on the relevance and believability they bring and whether they can be a persuasive force in getting the consumer to consider purchasing the product or service.