Are we done with celebrity endorsers yet?

Please note that this post was originally published on February 6, 2009. As a result, any external links or videos used may no longer be functional.

istock_000007040798xsmallFor every Tiger Woods, there seems to be more than one Michael Phelps.

Why do brands keep trusting celebrities to represent them?

Is it time to retire the strategy of “borrowing equity” through endorsement deals? Historically, some celebs (like Woods, Bill Cosby and Michael Jordan) can be counted on to manage their image well, but obviously some are time bombs. Who knows when they will go off?

The dumping of Michael Phelps for “behavior … not consistent with the image of Kellogg” causes me to wonder again why any brand is willing to take the risk. Why place hard-earned brand equity in the hands of someone who doesn’t value it?

Celebrities are, after all, human beings, and therefore likely to err.

They may go ballistic like Christian Bale.

They might launch into a politically incorrect tirade, like Mel Gibson, Michael Richards and Don Imus.

They may be caught up in substance abuse scandals, like Barry Bonds and Floyd Landis.

Or convicted of animal cruelty like Michael Vick. Sorry, Nike.

Remember when OJ Simpson represented Hertz Car Rental? And Robert Blake represented STP Oil Treatment.

Some celebs rebound, some don’t. Martha Stewart is back. Kobe Bryant is mostly back. Alex Baldwin seems to have survived public outrage over the verbal abuse of his daughter. He recently starred in a Super Bowl spot for Hulu.

But with paparazzi and citizen journalists everywhere, celebrities are going to continue to be captured being human, whether cheating on their partners or their taxes. Why risk it?

This entry was posted in advertising, promotion, public relations, strategy.

0 Responses to Are we done with celebrity endorsers yet?

  1. Pacer Paul says:

    Ahhhh celebrities. The older I get, the less they mean. I think there are real celebrities just waiting for sponsors to understand the value of the people they touch every day. Examples…Chuck Engle, marathon elite from Dublin, Ohio, Kara Goucher, new long distance lady for the USA…and pace team leaders like PacerPaul. No drugs, just lots and lots of running. Oh and leading in a sport that claims hundreds of thousands of participants every year and growing.

  2. Kirk says:

    A-Rod. Chris Brown. The hits keep coming.

  3. Kirk says:

    Here’s The Business Insider’s 10 Celebrity Endorsement Deals That Went Way Wrong: