Celebrities in Advertising

Celebrity ads are unique, more involving and interesting, and this means that they are likely to be noticed.

(Souza & Quintanilha 2006)


Do celebrity ads get more Attention than other ad styles?

One of the most obvious and important reasons to use celebrities in advertising is to help the ad stand out and get noticed. But is this really the case? Does the celebrity help get the ad noticed more than other ad styles? Are they worth their high price?

To answer this, we have looked at the average Attention rating (ability to cut-through) for each ad style. What we see (Chart 1) is that, overall, there is only a relatively small difference between the styles (a difference of 0.4 of a rating point on a 10 point scale, where 0 is no Attention and 10 is perfect Attention and 6 is the expected level for an (Effective ad).

On average, celebrity endorsed ads are not the most effective at cutting through and getting viewer attention, but they are also not the worst. For the most part, they are effective at getting attention, but they are not necessarily more effective than other styles.

Chart 1, Source: add+impact® database


Do celebrity ads have stronger Bonding than other ad styles?

In addition to getting noticed, the ad must also build strong positive feelings about the brand. Do celebrities help to improve people’s feelings about the brand? Is there a positive rub-off from the celebrity to the brand? Are celebrity ads more effective than other styles in engaging consumers?

To analyse this, the first step was to plot the average Bonding (brand feelings) ratings for each of the ad styles to see whether celebrity ads are more effective at building brand feelings. There were some small differences between the styles. Although celebrity ads are, in the most part, effective at building strong brand feelings, they are not the most effective style – Typical Person ads are the best at creating the empathy that is needed. This is likely to be because people can directly relate to the situations and people in the ad and feel the brand understands them and therefore have an affinity with it.

Chart 2, Source: add+impact® database


Do celebrity ads drive purchase intent?

The second way in which we studied the role of celebrities in engagement is to compare the regression for the total data base (chart 3) as shown in the work of Phillips and Cramphorn (2006) with the regression for celebrity ads.

A regression analysis was used to confirm the relative contribution of the key factors used to measure the effectiveness of advertising (ad Attention, Bonding, News and Brand Relationship). Here we are mostly interested in looking at the contribution of brand feelings (Bonding).

If Celebrities contributed significantly to building feelings about the brand, more than other ad styles, it would be expected that the relative proportion of feelings (the bottom section on the charts) would be larger for celebrity ads (Chart 3).

What we see from this comparison is that the contribution of feelings is very similar for both celebrity ads and the total database, but slightly higher for celebrity ads. This shows that, irrespective of ad style, feelings are the strongest predictor of purchase intent, but celebrities can add to this. We also see from the comparison that brand news and ad attention play a more important role in predicting purchase intent for celebrity ads than for other styles. However, the role of the existing Brand relationship seems to be less important. This may mean that the use of celebrities can help to encourage brand switching if the celebrity is used appropriately.

Chart 3, Source: add+impact® database


So how can we know which celebrities are worthwhile?

A ‘best practice’ paper from the World Advertising Research Centre (WARC 2006) concluded that celebrities have the potential to make a major contribution to the brand when they are used properly and creatively. Academic research tends to focus on three key factors when assessing celebrity effectiveness (WARC 2006):

1. The familiarity, attractiveness or currency of the celebrity. 2. The fit between the brand and celebrity. 3. The credibility of the endorser or the endorsement.

These key elements are fundamental to a successful celebrity endorsement. For a 'deep-dive' into a celebrity's effectiveness, consider Chown and Carter's (2012) six key metrics. These metrics can be drawn on for a quantitative framework to determine a celebrity's overall fit. The principle aim being consumer engagement and driving brand objectives: 1. Talent Synchronicity - Celebrities should consistently fit the brand, product, and consumer. A consistent fit allows brands to accurately link psychographic and demographics, image associations between brand and celebrity and target engagement.

2. Cost - Different celebrities have different prices (i.e. price, time, demands, exclusivity), Return-on-Investment (ROI) should be carefully considered. When using multiple A grade celebrities, pre-testing is highly recommended. A brand should be confident that a given creative will actually cut-through before millions are spent on endorsements and celebrity features.

3. Creative Fit - The celebrity's characteristics, attributes or skill-set should tie in with the creative vision. The creative idea should come first and drive celebrity choice (Dinger, 2016). A strong idea is better than a popular celebrity. Find a compatible celebrity to add the the brand.

4.Timeliness - Does your celebrity drive interest in the media? What PR opportunities are available? Is there a risk of bad equity?

5. Social media foot-print - Social media exposure is vital for reaching key touch-points. It is worthy to note that influencers are a new and popular form of celebrity that should be considered for brand presence on Social media. Influencers are often seen as more relatable and down-to-earth, aligning nicely with the 'typical person' category we established in the bonding section of this blog. We know this category resonates the strongest with target markets.

6. Interest Level - The celebrity should use, buy into and show passion towards your brand. They must appear genuinely invested in the brand if they are to successfully endorse it. In order to achieve this, a celebrity must be relevant and relate to your brand. Celebrities who appear in a campaign only for the money come across as in-genuine and have little impact, and may even transfer negative connotations to the brand.


What should we take away from this?

Based on these insights, we can conclude that celebrities can increase brand bonding, and encourage switching between brands. However, the ROI must be carefully considered. The creative itself accounts for 75% of ad impact, and the celebrity should add to this rather than drive the campaign themselves. On top of this, celebrities should be well-know, well liked and trusted. When thinking of a creative, make sure you also consider other options than celebrities, such a 'typical people' or influencers. Get in touch with Luma Research for more insights on celebrities in advertising.


Successful Casting in Super Bowl Advertising

Every year Luma tests the Super Bowl ads and does in-depth analysis and reports. Here are the most successful casting/celebrity ads from the last two years... Get in touch for the full-reports for the best celebrity ads.

2019: Stella Artois 'Change up the Usual'

Casting Score: 8.0 (Benchmark is 6/10)

2018: Tourism Australia 'Dundee'

Casting Score: 7.6 (Benchmark is 6/10)

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