Celeb Ads the Worst. What About Tweets?

Jan 19, 2011

A new report finds that advertising featuring celebrities
are rarely worth the paper the endorsement deals are signed on.

According to
Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix, writing on the Advertising
his firm’s study of every nationally televised ad for the first 11 months of
2010 found that spots featuring celebrities either performed below average
or just at average. "One-fifth of celebrity ads had a negative impact
on advertising effectiveness," according to the Ace Metrix study, 2010
Celebrity Advertisements: Exposing a Myth of Advertising Effectiveness

worst celebrity endorsement of 2010 was Tiger Woods’ "Did You Learn
Anything?" spot for Nike. Following in order of ineffectiveness were Lance
Armstrong (RadioShack), Kenny Mayne (Gillette), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Nationwide
Auto Insurance) and Donald Trump (Macy’s).

"The great news in all of this is that brands should not have to feel
compelled to shell out big bucks on a celebrity," write Mr. Daboll. "Instead,
they should be charging their agencies with creating ads that have a strong,
watchable creative message."

Mr. Daboll maintains that today’s consumer
is more informed and too pressed for time to be moved by a celebrity in an
ad. In fact, he argues that consumers are "more
likely to be influenced by someone in their social network than a weak celebrity

So what happens if a consumer has a celebrity in their social
network? Take Twitter, for example.

A new report on the Poynter website
draws attention to the practice of celebrities engaged in sending out sponsored
tweets. One company, Ad.ly, sent out over 20,000 sponsored tweets last year.
Celebrities typically earn a few hundred dollars from a single tweet although
some high-profile people with the last name Kardashian can earn up to $10,000.

"You have 50 billion dollars a year spent globally on endorsements," Arnie
Gullov-Singh, CEO of Ad.ly CEO, told Poynter. "It just hasn’t
moved online yet, and that’s what we’re changing."

Mr. Gullov-Singh
added, "In social media, people are publishers, and
consumers are following people. If you want (Twitter users) to follow your
brand and engage with your brand and monetize your brand in social media, you
need to have a real person behind that."

While each Ad.ly sponsored tweet
ends with either "ad" or #ad,
there is a question whether consumers are clear that celebrities are endorsing
a product because they’ve been paid.

"It all boils down to the question of how easily readers, users, consumers,
and citizens can recognize the distinction between advertising content and
editorial content," Katy Culver, a professor of multimedia journalism
at the University of Wisconsin, told Poynter. "I’d be very
curious how many people recognize that hashtag."

"When you see celebrity endorsements on TV, they’re clearly ads," Mr.
Gullov-Singh, told Poynter. "Online, these celebrities, musicians,
actors, athletes are all being themselves and being authentic."

What is your reaction to the Ace Metrix research on the effectiveness of celebrity ads? What about the use of celebrities sending out tweets they are paid?

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8 Comments on "Celeb Ads the Worst. What About Tweets?"

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Charlie Moro
Charlie Moro
11 years 4 months ago

When dealing with celebrity endorsements the key is to have likable personalities that you have some affection or connection with as something you can relate to. The article mentions negative celebrity impact, but I would venture to guess someone like Peyton Manning is off the charts in a positive way.

You don’t have to be a football fan or a rooting positive or negative impression of his team, but he comes across as someone fun, self deprecating, SNL must watch, all in a way to create a connection separate of his celebrity but reinforced by it.

At the end of the day as with all things, it’s not how good they may be at the sport or craft, but do you like them separate of it.

Warren Thayer
11 years 4 months ago

A lot depends on the demographic. My gut is that younger people take more stock in what celebrities think, and they also tweet more. So Kardashian tweeting may be just a dandy idea when marketing to them. Personally, I think “tweeting” is for the birds, and should stay that way, but I’m not the intended target for most tweet campaigns. Might I add here as an aside that this old fogie was shocked and disappointed to see “The Fonz” promoting reverse mortgages on TV to stupid old people. The ads made me think significantly less of Henry Winkler.

Mel Kleiman
11 years 4 months ago

Social media is all about transparency. Every time someone or some group seems to not be transparent they lose a great deal of credibility.

There will be two losers if tweets are not flagged in a way that the reader knows they are being marketed to–the tweeter and the celebrity that is tweeting.

David Biernbaum
11 years 4 months ago

Celeb ads and tweets are effective but only when carefully selected and planned for the right product with the right message. Too many brands are connecting with celebs that offer zero credibility for the product in which they are selling. For example, if you are selling a life survival kit then maybe Glenn Beck is the answer. But I don’t think that anyone really cares what Glenn uses for mouthwash.

Gene Detroyer
11 years 4 months ago

The problem with the credibility largely lies in the connection of the celebrity to the product. An actress with beautiful hair can credibly endorse a hair care product. Tiger Woods endorsing Buick when we all know that there is no Buick in his garage is a stretch. The foolishness of some product/celebrity combinations is often quite amusing.

Stacey Silliman
Stacey Silliman
11 years 4 months ago

Tiger Woods is a bad example. L’Oreal cosmetics does a fine job with celebrity endorsements–Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, and Gwen Stefani have rolled out new ads for their lip colors in 2011. Sarah Jessica Parker does a fine job of endorsing the Garnier ads. It depends on the line of products and the celebrity who is endorsing. If the likability factor is there, then it’s successful. I wouldn’t want to see Michael Vick advertise 1-800-PetMeds, but it would get everyone talking, wouldn’t it?

Joan Treistman
11 years 4 months ago
Celebrities in advertising should be thought of as simply another graphic element, to attract attention and convey an image along with a message. To what extent any celebrity can be effective against all three criteria should determine their value to the advertiser. It’s up to the ad agency to determine which celebrity offers the most potential and then integrate that “graphic” into the advertising. There is always the downside risk that a celebrity will bring negative publicity as Tiger Woods brought. But equally as important to consider is the relevancy of the celebrity with the brand. In other words what is the upside of the celebrity’s endorsement? It’s easy to see the potential for a beautiful actress and cosmetics. But less obvious relationships need evaluation, if the investment is to be realized. And so I come back to the criteria mentioned above. Before paying the big bucks for the celebrity consider the potential effectiveness in terms of the incremental effect of that celebrity on the advertising’s ability to attract attention, convey an appropriate image and… Read more »
George Anderson
11 years 4 months ago

For clarification purposes: The Ace Matrix tracked every nationally televised ad with a celebrity for the first 11 months of 2010. The findings are based on an average from the worst (Tiger) to the best (Peyton, Beyonce, whomever).

In the last paragraph of his Ad Age piece, Peter Daboll wrote, “The great news in all of this is that brands should not have to feel compelled to shell out big bucks on a celebrity. Instead, they should be charging their agencies with creating ads that have a strong, watchable creative message.”


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