Celebrity Endorsements in Advertising: Smart or Lazy?

Celebrity Endorsement
Celebrity endorsements in the world of advertising are nothing new by any means. As long as celebrities and advertising have existed they’ve been intertwined, but it seems like these endorsements are prevalent now more than ever in the advertising world. And because you see a celeb in an ad every time you turn around, they must work. Advertisers wouldn’t spend so much money for so many years on a tactic that hasn’t been proven to bring in more sales. But at the same time, I sometimes have to wonder if advertisers like it because it’s just easier than conceptualizing and developing a brand new creative idea.

From a copywriter’s perspective, it can be difficult to continuously brainstorm new and innovative ideas for brands (especially for products that aren’t quite so…thrilling). And sometimes after a long day of wracking your brain for the next genius advertising campaign and coming up empty, the best solution may be to find a big-name celebrity and hope that they’ll advertise for you. Obviously, celeb endorsements have worked in the past, so it’s not like it’s a bad idea. Some of the most well-known campaigns have involved famous brands and even famous-er stars, like Michael Jordan and Nike or Chuck Norris and The Total Gym, so it seems like a win-win. Get a celeb to do the heaviest lifting and rake in tons of money.

But recently I’ve seen so many celebrity-endorsed advertisements it’s getting a little out of control. It seems like every other ad has a star in it, and to me, that makes it lose its appeal. The reason endorsements usually work is because they catch viewers’ attention. When all of a sudden you see your favorite star on TV you stop to see what they’re saying. But when every commercial has a star in it I think they’re easier to ignore, because no matter who it is, it’s the same old celebrity endorsement tactic yet again.

Now, to be fair, some companies do endorsements well. Personally, I love the old Pepsi commercials with Michael Jackson (and young Carlton!) because they were creative and fun. They weren’t just him standing there saying that he likes Pepsi and we should too. But it seems like many of the ads I see lately are simply (blank) celebrity saying that (blank) changed their life, so we should try it. I think that takes the creativity out of advertising, because it’s so formulaic. And I know that some products are harder to advertise than others, but that’s why advertisers have jobs. Sometimes the best campaigns come from boring products (Exhibit number one: insurance ads).

What do you think about celebrity endorsements in advertising? Is it just an example of advertisers getting the most bang for their buck? Or are they taking the easy route?

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