Celebrity Endorsers: How to choose the right spokesperson
Celebrity endorsers have long been a favorite marketing tool for companies with products to sell. Famous faces and voices can instantly boost a product’s visibility and make advertising more memorable. If you need proof, just look at the long list of athletes endorsing Nike, Adidas, Gatorade and other sports-related products, or models endorsing Victoria’s Secret. Other memorable celebrity endorsers include Jay Z for Samsung, Ashton Kutcher for Nikon, Jennifer Hudson for Weight Watchers and William Shatner for Priceline.com.
Of course, celebrity endorsers can also backfire. Even the biggest stars can suddenly lose their appeal—think Tiger Woods, Lindsey Lohan, and Michael Vick. Remember when O.J. Simpson was a spokesperson for Hertz? Hertz sure hopes you don’t.
Personally, I’ve always believed celebrity endorsers work best when the brand and celebrity are a good fit for each other. Michael Jordan and Nike makes sense to me. Michael Jordan and Hanes underwear, not so much.
Probably the best success I’ve had using a celebrity endorser is a campaign I created for Glock handguns. We found out Glock had signed an endorsement deal with R. Lee Ermey, a well-known character actor and ex-Marine drill sergeant, back in 2004. He’d made dozens of trade show appearances for Glock and was a proven crowd pleaser at gun shows and other events, but they had never used him in advertising.
We quickly changed that, with a campaign called “Amazing Stories.”
The campaign featured actual stories sent in by Glock gun owners and enthusiasts. The stories were all written in Gunny’s voice, taking advantage of his popular drill sergeant persona.
As soon as the ads appeared, there was an explosion of comments on Glock’s website and Facebook page. Hundreds of friends and fans wanted to download copies. Later, the campaign was expanded even further. Short videos were produced featuring Amazing Stories, as told by “Gunny.”
As far as celebrity endorsers go, he was a perfect fit.