Is the celebrity backlash real?

As an advertiser or brand manager, you would be forgiven for wondering if using a celebrity spokesperson is more of a hindrance than an asset in 2009, what with the whole recession-chic, anti-luxe zeitgeist. So it’s not surprising to see an article in Brandweek suggesting that celebrity ad deals are dead.

But let’s take a look at some hard facts.

Last month alone, we reported (via our Twitter feed) a spate of new campaigns featuring–surprise!–celebrity endorsements: Burger King (athletes, comics, tv stars), Macy’s (tv, music, entertainment, fashion stars), Wheaties (athletes), Unilever (actors, red carpet events), Sears, Wrangler & ESPN (athletes),Panasonic (film directors), State Farm Insurance (actors), not to mention Sony‘s new $80 million campaign (musicians, athletes, actors). Just how many of these involved contract negotiations help from our team at chloepro? Take a wild guess. (‘Cause we’d never tell.)

Ironically, the BrandWeek article ends up disproving its own headline, “Consumers Unswayed By Celebrities in Ads.” As the survey results revealed, any poll asking participants if they think they’re swayed by celebrity endorsements is flawed from the outset. Very few people would openly admit to being dazzled into buying something based on a famous spokesperson’s pitch or association with a product. Of the rare few profiled who do confess this, most reveal what savvy advertisers have long known: effective advertising appeals to subconscious desires and aspirations.

Regardless of economic conditions, people will continue to yearn for excellence, fame and fortune. If a specific celebrity represents that for your target demographic, then common sense tells you that associating your brand with them can only boost brand recognition and appeal. This fact is reflected repeatedly in sales reports. Just ask any of the brands mentioned above.

We therefore respectfully submit that celebrity endorsements in advertising campaigns are alive and well. Feel free to add your 2 cents below.