I’ve spent the first part of this year discussing some of the myths in the advertising community and what has been lagging behind.
While behavioral scientists have proven that modern focus groups don’t work, many agencies shun this discovery and still rely on traditional research practices. They are missing untapped opportunity to leverage the new advances in behavioral science, which tell us that people don’t often do what they say; Even if you pay them in kind with a free cup of coffee for their time!
Over 1 trillion USD is spent each year to get people’s attention. Yet is all this attention grabbing investment grabbing the right attention?
Take for example the massive amounts of money advertisers still spend on celebrity endorsements. Ad Age ran an article last week debunking the commonly held belief that celebrity endorsements lead to advertising effectiveness. Sure if you can remember that Julianne Moore is naked in a campaign for a leading designer, that Ben Stein is the spokesperson for some startup or Scarlett Johansson is the face of a new perfume. But that doesn’t mean we will remember what the product was. Several studies have proven that this sort of approach to promoting a product doesn’t lead to the sort of effectiveness we had hoped for.
How much money does Gap spend every year for a series of celebrity endorsements.? Last I heard, Gap was having financial trouble.
The scientific explanation? We are far more likely to relate to people who look more like us than Angelina Jolie. Given the increasing skepticism in the consumer marketplace, advertisers should take notice. Consumers want authenticity. According to Martin Lindstrom, in his best selling book Buyology, “when we see celebrities, we instinctively feel that what they claim about the product is phony”. Sure, Cindy Crawford looks great at 44, but is it really because of the beauty product she is selling in those direct TV commercials, and that retouched acne that Katy Perry says she has, c’mon, does Proactive really work?
I can recall the times we’ve used some heavy hitters to promote brands, shooting commercials with Elton John, Michael Jackson, Tiger Woods and other larger than life celebrities. Major brands were happy to fork over large sums of money with the assumption of major impact. Major impact perhaps, but not the sort of impact we were hoping for. In fact, sometimes it can lead to negative impact. Tiger Woods, anyone want to tell me what products he endorsed last year? How about Donald Trump? While we know the names and the faces, we tend to focused on the celebrity, distracting us from focusing on the product being endorsed.
According to a study by Ace Metrix, 2010 Celebrity Advertisements: Exposing A Myth of Advertising Effectiveness, “fewer than 12% of ads using celebrities experienced a 10% lift in advertising effectiveness”. Similar studies have been done at universities across the country, proving time and again that major investments in celebrity endorsements are not necessarily a great investment.
I want to hear from you. Tell me what you think about celebrity endorsements – Do you think they are a good use of advertising dollars?