The Death of Celebrity Endorsements?

Amy Callahan

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This article by Collective Bias CCO/Co-founder, Amy Callahan, originally appeared on Huffington Post.

Mark Wahlberg rocking his Calvin Kleins. Britney Spears shimmying with a Pepsi in hand. Mean Joe Green being handed a Coke by his biggest fan. Through the years, celebrity endorsements have ignited some of the most iconic (and some of the most disastrous) ads of all time. For better or for worse, every type of product and service imaginable has likely been endorsed by celebrities. Before the pervasiveness of social media, media influencers were typically high-profile personalities like actors/actresses, musicians and athletes. While these high-caliber stars can still be considered influencers, a newer breed of non-celebrity influencers are becoming the ultimate swayers of brand awareness and purchase intent. Let’s take a look at how the industry is evolving from classic celebrity endorsements to realize the power non-celebrity influencers have come to hold.

Everyday people did not have access to the same platforms as they do now.

Celebrity endorsements have always been used because of the recognition a superstar could bring to a brand. The marketability, whether utilizing rock gods, Olympic stars or others, has always been prevalent because these societal icons had built-in vocal platforms due to their level of fame. Fans, however, can sometimes have a tendency to value the opinions of their favorite celebrities regardless of whether these A-listers actually use the product/service they’re promoting. There was no such thing as typical people sharing their thoughts on a product or service on a large scale unless they had access to press or money.

Social media changed that level of access forever as ordinary people have garnered impressive online followings. Why is that? It could be because these non-celebrity influencers are far more likely to possess the lifestyles and budgets of regular people than actors and athletes. They are being embraced for their relatability because they are everyday consumers creating relevant and useful content for more common consumers. They also take the time to engage and talk with their followers, while the chances of a celebrity responding to every comment or share they receive are slim to none. A combination of relatability, useful content output and forging influencer-audience relationships has created a rapport of trust and a level of authority for non-celeb influencers. In fact, a new study by Collective Bias has found that 30 percent of consumers are more likely to consider purchasing a product in-store when it is endorsed by a non-celebrity blogger, compared to just 2.8 percent of consumers who are more likely to buy a product in-store due to a celebrity endorsement.

Some celebrity endorsements make sense…some certainly do not.

Michael Jordan’s 30-plus year partnership with Nike could easily be deemed the poster-child for a successful (and believable) celebrity endorsement. If one of basketball’s most iconic players is putting their name on a pair of basketball shoes, they must be pretty good and the sales speak for themselves. Yet, many celebrity endorsements simply don’t make sense. Take Brad Pitt’s endorsement (first appearing in 2012) of Chanel No. 5 Perfume, for example. A product that has historically been purchased by older women being endorsed by a rugged actor reeks of forced messaging. Why not market the perfume through everyday people that have proudly used the product before and can spread the benefits of it to their online followers? Non-celebrity influencers can describe how they use the product for date nights or how they package it as part of a gift basket. How about an unboxing video or beauty haul with the perfume included? These types of content are far more relevant to shoppers than an ad or commercial with little to no product information or inspiration. Non-celeb influencers are in the business of relating and engaging with their loyal followers, making their opinion have a much deeper impact. Stats of the power of peer endorsements have been infiltrating the market. It just makes sense that a consumer is more likely to buy a product if someone like them has already used it and found success with it.

While celebrity endorsements are always an option, many brands are realizing the evolution that’s taken place regarding whom consumers trust when considering opinions on products and services. Celebrities may have the reach, but does that really have any scalable impact? While celeb endorsements may not be dead and buried, the engagement and sway of non-celebrity influencers is alive and well.

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