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What are the benefits of celebrity- based campaigns?

The right celebrity, used in the right way, can undoubtedly be a powerful brand asset. But using a celebrity is no guarantee of effective advertising. Overall however, there’s very little differ- ence between the performance of ads with celebrities versus those without. Ads featuring celebrities are found slightly more enjoyable, involving, interesting, and distinctive. They are also likely to be a little better branded – probably as a result of an individual celebrity becoming associated with a brand through a long running campaign.

Who uses celebrities?

The use of celebrities in advertising varies enormously around

the world. It’s highest in Japan, Korea and China, where over

20 percent of TV ads feature celebrities, and lowest in Swe-

den, Denmark and Canada, where the proportion is under 5

percent. In both the U.K. and the U.S., the use of celebrities

has increased since 2000.

There is no pattern of celebrity use by category, as this com-

parison of U.S. and U.K. data shows.

There is no consistent pattern by category on use of Celebrity in Ads - % of Total Ads

UK USA % % Credit/Charge Cards Coffee Carbonated Drinks Beer Snacks - non confectionery Automobiles
UK
USA
%
%
Credit/Charge Cards
Coffee
Carbonated Drinks
Beer
Snacks - non confectionery
Automobiles
Yogurts/Desserts
Food Enhancers - (condiments)
Spirits
Chocolate
Cereals
Fruit Juice
Cleaning Products/Bleach
35
17
21
0
16
26
14
2
9
7
8
7
8
5
7
3
6
2
6
2
5
0
5
2
3
1

Celebrity-based campaigns can be very effective. In the U.K., Barclaycard used the popular comedian Rowan Atkinson in a highly successful campaign. It was hugely enjoyed and well recalled, and it commu-

What are the benefits of celebrity-based campaigns?

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© Millward Brown August 2007

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nicated the intended messages. Barclaycard’s share of new cardholders rose from 15 percent to 25 per- cent in five years.

ticular celebrities have, over time, become synony- mous with the brand: for example, William Shatner and Priceline, in the U.S., Gary Lineker and Walkers in the U.K, Cerina Lau and the cosmetic brand SKII in China. This example shows the gradual build of one celebrity brand cue over 15 ads.

The celebrity can wear-in as a branding device over a campaign What happened in the advert to help you know that it was for Brand X?

Celebrity

Brand cue

B D

A E

C G

F

% %

% %

% %

%

H I

% %

51
51
50
50
40
40
42
42
34
34
5
5
58
58
48
48
47
47

J L

% %

%

K

55
55
43
43

M

%

N O

% %

But there is very little overall difference between the performance of ads with celebrities versus those without, although those that have them are enjoyed slightly more.

Celebrity – global finished films Enjoyment index

Global Data

Ads with

celebrities

%

104

Ads without

celebrities

%

102

 
  Base: (164) (117) (81) (126) (102) (85) (67) (96) (109) (161) (154) (149) (161) (128)
  Base: (164) (117) (81) (126) (102) (85) (67) (96) (109) (161) (154) (149) (161) (128)

Base:

(164) (117)

(81)

(126) (102)

(85)

(67)

(96)

(109) (161)

(154) (149) (161)

(128) (126)

Enjoyment Index

 

15 executions over time

In Japan, however, branding scores are slightly lower for ads with celebrities — possibly due to the celeb- rities endorsing too many brands.

 

Base

(1408)

(13809)

Some countries, notably the U.S., find celebrity ads more involving; but in others, particularly where ce- lebrity ads are more common, this is not the case.

Ads featuring celebrities are no more likely to be seen as conveying new, relevant credible news than others; so, unsurprisingly, they are no more persua- sive.

Overall branding levels tend to be slightly higher for ads featuring celebrities.

Three key questions for effective use of celebri- ties

Celebrity – global finished films Branding index

 

Ads with

Ads without

Given that using a celebrity does not guarantee a

Global Data

celebrities

celebrities

%

%

successful campaign, what are the guidelines for getting it right? We’d suggest there are three key questions you need to answer.

Who are they?

102
102
100
100

Branding Index

 
 

Base

(1241)

(12262)

This is likely to be driven by campaigns where par-

Where the celebrity is central to the core idea, it’s important to establish how well known they are among your target audience. In the U.S., a lipstick brand was launched using a British model. Among those who recognized her, communication, enjoy- ment and purchase intent were much stronger.

What are the benefits of celebrity-based campaigns?

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© Millward Brown August 2007

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Those who recognised her expressed stronger purchase intent

 

What do they represent?

 

Recognised

Didn’t recognise

Definitely would buy/ probably would buy for the price of $4.97
Definitely would buy/
probably would buy for
the price of $4.97

74

 

Finally, you need to understand how well the celeb-

 

56

 

rity fits with the brand, or with where you want to take the brand. When the celebrity is perceived to be appropriate, communication can be enhanced.

However, less than a quarter of the audience recog- nized her, severely limiting the effectiveness of the campaign.

The ‘right fit’ celebrity can enhance communication

Find celebrity

Don’t find

Difference

appropriate

celebrity

%

appropriate

%

 

Are made from natural products

Suitable for the whole family

Ideal for everyday meals

Are new and different

Create tasty meals without effort

Are high quality

Combination of different textures

Taste great/delicious

79
79
68
68
61
61
61
61
60
60
56
56
51
51
42
42
59
59
41
41
31
31
21
21
41
41
21
21
21
21
24
24
20
20
27
27
30
30
40
40
19
19
35
35
30
30
18
18

Conversely, advertising can make celebrities. In the U.K., Halifax bank used staff members in its ads — one of whom, Howard Brown, became a celebrity in his own right. Also in the U.K., the Gold Blend cof- fee campaign of the 1990s created a long running series, following the slow build of a romance. When

the couple first kissed, it made the front page of The Sun, the biggest selling U.K. newspaper.

Moving with the times

40
40
14
14
26
26

Potential pitfalls

There may be merits to running a campaign which works even if the celebrity is not recognized; but it is useful to be clear how important the celebrity is in your campaign.

Unlike, say, an animated character, celebrities are human, and subject to human failings. Which means there are a number of ways in which a celebrity could become a liability to the brand. These are discussed

Are they liked?

in our Point of View paper, “Celebrity Power: Is Less More?”.

While it isn’t essential for a celebrity to be liked, this can have a significant impact on emotional response to an ad.

In addition, there is the risk of the celebrity becom- ing the hero of the ad, “drowning out” the brand. But experience suggests that this is more an issue of ad structure than the fame of the celebrity. Testimonial ads, for example, with their clear focus on the brand, tend not to suffer this problem. But the celebrity

Likeability of a celebrity can significantly impact on emotional response

 

Enjoyment of ad

 

Like celebrity

 

Yes

No

%

%

Enjoy a lot

13
13
34
34

-

needs to come across as likeable and genuine, or the endorsement may lack credibility.

Quite enjoy

6
6

Won’t mind

38
38
48
48

Alternatively, the celebrity may just be a poor choice. In the U.K., two ads were tested for a brand. They had identical scripts, but one featured a genuine former

Won’t enjoy much

11
11
29
29

pop star, while the other featured an actor playing the part of an old pop star. The version with the actor

Won’t enjoy at all

4
4

20

version with the actor Won’t enjoy at all 4 20 was preferred. The celebrity was considered

was preferred. The celebrity was considered inap- propriate, and weakened the credibility of the ad.

Mean score: (+5 to +1)

3.42

2.37

What are the benefits of celebrity-based campaigns?

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© Millward Brown August 2007

KNOWLEDGE POINT KNOWLEDGE POINT KNOWLEDGE POINT KNOWLEDGE POINT The celebrity weakened credibility What was put
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The celebrity weakened credibility
What was put accross about the brand was believable
‘With
‘Without
UK
Celebrity’
Celebrity’
average
%
%
%
27
26
Agree strongly
27
44
36
Agree slightly
28
Neither/nor
16
15
19
Disagree slightly
14
9
10
Disagree strongly
13
6
9
Mean score: (+5 to +1)
Base
3.43
3.77
3.60
(99)
(108)
(>278 ads)
Using a celebrity, then, does not guarantee success.
This is not to say that celebrities should not be used;
celebrity-based campaigns have been, and will con-
tinue to be, successful. But care needs to be exer-
cised over who is used, and how they are used.
Knowledge Points are drawn from the Millward Brown Knowledge Bank,
consisting of our databases of 50,000 brand reports and 40,000 ads, as well
as 1,000 case studies, 700 conference papers and magazine articles, and
250 Learnings documents.
www.millwardbrown.com

What are the benefits of celebrity-based campaigns?

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© Millward Brown August 2007