Friday, October 31, 2014

Doing Celebrity Endorsements Tastefully

This big ticket item will always be a staple of brands, regardless of how many articles and studies show them ineffective. Celebrity endorsements provide press and branding potential. All the positive associations the public has toward a celebrity can transfer onto a brand, and elevate the brand image along with it. Unfortunately, the same goes for negative associations. Any future scandal with the celebrity will could harm the brand (including things like tweeting from the competitor's phone). So how do you pick the perfect celebrity for a brand?

Celebrity Endorsements Must Be:

  1. A Good Fit with the Brand. How relevant is the celebrity to the brand? Are the personalities and lifestyles of the two compatible?
  2. Credible. Is the celebrity trustworthy? Do they have expertise with the brand or product category? Are they over-exposed? 
  3. Likeable. Is the celebrity attractive to the target audience? Will they get their attention? 

According to Forbes, Will Smith, Jennifer Aniston, and Sandra Bullock were the most marketable celebrities last year.

Having the perfect spokesperson isn't enough, though. Ads with celebrities get scrutinized much more than the average commercial. Many of them end up looking cheesy. We are all very aware of the fact that our favourite celebrities are being paid absurd amounts to promote the brand. That figure released to the public says, 
"This is how much they had to pay me to pretend to like their crap." 

Huge payouts garner media attention, often including more backlash (what else will they write about?). In third place is BeyoncĂ©'s $50 million deal with Pepsi, which received criticism because she also played a big role in Michelle Obama's Let's Move fitness campaign.

It seems sports endorsements are a different ball game. The athletes are on 5-10 year contracts so the figures above are paid out over years (or even a lifetime like with David Beckham). The top deals are dominated by Nike (shown in black above). The best athletes sponsoring Nike automatically have a good fit with the brand, and credibility with the product.

Here's my favourite Matthew McConaughey spot in the new Lincoln campaign. The others are somewhat less sensical, but they all have the same feel, reminiscent of his character on True Detective. McConaughey was also the "The Lincoln Lawyer" so it seems a great fit. Despite the hilarious parodies (as usual), this campaign cuts the cheesiness of endorsements by being honest.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Why I Still Love Dove (Despite the Beauty Sketches)

Dove's Beauty Sketches has been criticized to death. A common argument is the hypocritical nature of Dove's parent company Unilever, also promoting Axe. But Dove and Axe each have their own brand managers and agencies. Sharing a parent company doesn't mean much when the majority of packaged goods are owned by the same ten companies.


A more valid concern is that the ad blames women for being self-conscious, rather than blaming society for creating strict beauty standards. Dove's Evolution spot communicates the latter perfectly, depicting exactly why women have a skewed perception of beauty. But Sketches merely highlights the difference between how a woman describes herself, and how someone else might. 


So essentially, the entire "experiment" is measuring social behaviour, rather than perceptions of beauty. Not even Jessica Alba would describe herself as "drop dead gorgeous." Social etiquette prescribes us to be humble about our appearances, so the premise of the blind sketch artist is flawed. This is especially true for women, since (as the parody suggests), many men are perfectly comfortable comparing themselves to George Clooney.

Dove's most recent spot, Selfie, tells young girls that the power to redefine beauty is in their hands. The tone is somewhat inspirational and guilt-free compared to Sketches, but is nowhere near as poignant as Evolution. It lacks real insight. But instead of being disappointed, I want to praise them.

I love Dove because they put the conversation on the table. They challenged the status quo regarding women in advertising. They opened the door for other brands to create even better ads. According to Adweek readers, the most inspiring ad campaign for women in 2013 (with 35% of the vote) was:

In second place was this spot for Pantene, which highlights the most frustrating double-standards that women are faced with every day. One of my favourites this year, this ad is worth watching:


Dove's Beauty Sketches received only 8% of the votes. But I still want to thank Dove. For recognizing that the world is ready to question our current perceptions of women.