Friday, October 31, 2014

Good Old Celebrity Endorsements

This big ticket item is a staple of brands, despite studies showing them ineffective. Celebrity endorsements can elevate brand image, since positive associations toward a celebrity can transfer onto the brand. Unfortunately, any scandal with the celebrity could also harm the brand (e.g. tweeting from the competitor's phone). 

Celebrity Endorsements Must Be:

  1. A Good Fit with the Brand. Is the celebrity relevant to the brand? Are their personalities and lifestyles 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.

But having the perfect spokesperson isn't enough. Ads with celebrities get scrutinized much more than the average commercial. Most of them are cheesy. We are all very aware of the fact that our favourite celebrities are being paid absurd amounts to promote the brand. A large figure released to the public says, 
"Look 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.

Sports endorsements may be a different ball game. Athletes are on contracts that pay out over 5-10 years (or even a lifetime). 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 everyone's been talking about. The others are far less sensical, but they all have the same True Detective feel. He's  been "The Lincoln Lawyer" which makes the two fit better. Despite the hilarious viral parodies, this particular spot cuts the cheesiness of endorsements by acknowledging that he's getting paid to promote it, but also implying he'd be driving a Lincoln regardless. A well written ad. The value of his deal was undisclosed. 

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.