Celebrity endorsements have been around for a while. From sports star Cy Young embracing various tobacco brands, and even taking part in one of the first “co-branding” styles of endorsement in the early 1900s to singers and actors of today’s Hollywood promoting a new line of makeup, enlisting the help of famous people to promote a goal is as old as humanity itself. And while the rise of digital media has changed significantly how celebrity endorsements are done, the importance of this marketing strategy is as strong as ever.
To help you understand what celebrity endorsements are exactly, in this article, we will explore the world of brand-celebrity collaborations, shedding light on their purpose benefits and pitfalls, as well as take a look into do’s and don’ts of successful endorsement campaigns, and take a look at some of the best celebrity endorsement campaigns for inspiration.
What Is a Celebrity Endorsement?
Celebrity endorsement is what the name says it is – a marketing strategy, in which a celebrity or an influential individual promotes a brand, product, or service. The main idea behind this strategy is to leverage the fame and popularity of the individual and to create an association between the celebrity and the endorsed product, to improve brand awareness and image, and ultimately, drive more sales.
Depending on the type of celebrity endorsement, the person brands work with may appear in advertisements, social media campaigns, and print media, as well as make public appearances and participate in the brand events to attract publicity and attention to the brand they work with.
The main idea behind celebrity endorsement campaigns is that by associating itself with a well-known and admired person, the brand is more likely to attract attention and spark trust in consumers. To make the results even more effective, companies often work with celebrities whose expertise and values align with theirs, transferring their credibility onto their product.
If leveraged correctly, celebrity endorsements can be a powerful marketing tool—hence their longevity. By selecting the right partner and creating a genuine connection between the brand and the celebrity, companies can achieve astonishing results.
Why Do Celebrities Endorse?
Why do celebrities do brand endorsements if they are already successful? The answer is this: celebrity endorsements have proven, over the years, to be a two-way street, benefitting the celebrities themself as much as the brands. In fact, the right collaboration can be as instrumental in the success of the celebrity’s career in the long run in several ways.
Firstly, endorsements give celebrities a way to align themselves with specific brands that resonate with their personal interests and values, something, that becomes increasingly important today. By working with brands and endorsing products aligning with their image, celebrities can enhance their own personal brand, and position themselves as a valuable voice in the field. Aligning with brands is an effective method for celebrities to showcase their support of certain causes and lifestyle choices, and can help them establish a deeper connection with their fanbase.
Another reason is the improved reach: through working with renowned brands, celebrities gain a valuable chance to expand their reach and exposure, which in many cases can be decisive for their career. By collaborating with brands, celebrities can tap into new markets, achieve greater visibility, and put themselves out there for more career options down the road.
Next on our list are the possible business opportunities. Endorsements provide a convenient platform for celebrities looking to establish themselves as entrepreneurs and diversify their careers. Endorsement deals often open entrepreneurship ventures for celebrities, and many of them use these collaborations to launch their own lines of products within the brand, or even open their own companies.
Lastly, there are financial reasons. While finances are often far from being the top reason for celebrities to work with brands, they can still be a substantial incentive: by lending the brands their name and voice, celebrities typically secure lucrative deals and significantly boost their revenues.
Celebrity Endorsement Benefits
For brands, collaborations with celebrities have long been one of the most effective and rewarding marketing strategies, and yield a great number of benefits brands can reap. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Brand-celebrity collaborations offer a multitude of benefits for brands. By partnering with celebrities, brands can leverage their fame, influence, and positive public perception to achieve various marketing objectives. Here are the main benefits that brands can gain from celebrity endorsements:
Growth In Brand Awareness
Improved brand awareness is one of the main benefits brands can achieve through celebrity endorsement ads, as they’ll see an immediate boost in visibility and exposure among an audience spanning millions. This buzz then transforms into heightened recognition, making the brand name more identifiable.
Enhanced Brand Image And Improved Trust
Celebrity endorsement deals not only improve brand visibility but also enhance its brand image by tying the name of the brand to that of the celebrity. There are multiple studies confirming that the endorsement of celebrities or influential may affect consumers’ attitudes toward products or services. Celebrities often have dedicated fanbases, and by aligning themselves with a famous person sharing their values, brands can tap into their audience and benefit from the positive perception associated with them. This leads to improved perception and trust towards the brand among customers, as the endorsement by their favorite celebrity serves as a signal of quality.
Improved Market Standing
Lastly, working with celebrities helps brands differentiate themselves from others in the market, by giving a face to the name. The positive perception associated with a well-known personality can give brands a unique selling proposition and a standing in the market.
All of these benefits then come together to help the brands achieve their ultimate goal: increase sales and revenue, as the influence of celebrities can have a powerful impact on purchasing decisions. With this said, it’s crucial for the brands to select the right celebrities and ensure that the collaboration meets the values and needs of both sides to ensure the success of the partnership.
Celebrity endorsements, often also referred to as celebrity advertising, require a strategic approach and planning to come up with an effective campaign that will capture customer attention, enhance brand recognition, and drive sales. This is true for most campaigns, but in the case of celebrity endorsement ads, it’s even more so due to their large audience, and it’s safe to say that an endorsement deal with a celebrity has the power to make or break brands.
For brands, to ensure that their endorsement deal with celebrities is successful and achieves the desired outcomes, there are several do’s and don’ts to consider.
Ensure consistency and long-term commitment – Ensuring consistency during the collaboration with a celebrity is as important as sharing your brand’s values. Ensure that your messaging and other aspects of your collaboration remain consistent throughout the whole duration, and view the partnership as a long-term strategic one.
Consider prerequisites – Ensure that the celebrity is knowledgeable in the niche, has a positive image, and that there is a celebrity-brand match to avoid any negative publicity.
Treat celebrity endorsements as a channel – For brands, working with celebrities can often seem like a dream come true, which can lead to pitfalls. To ensure the success of your celebrity endorsement ad, treat is a part of your marketing mix, a channel to reach your audience, and not as an end goal.
Avoid brand overshadowing – When working with celebrities, there is a risk of them overshadowing the brand during the campaign, so it’s important to be on the lookout to avoid this.
Don’t neglect the legal aspects – You must ensure that the celebrities your brand works with have contracts, are on proper legal terms, and don’t work with competitors.
What Are The 4 Types Of Celebrity Endorsement?
Celebrity endorsements can come in different shapes or forms. As mentioned earlier, collaborations with celebrities can take the form of print ads, social media posts, and everything in between. However, all of these variations typically fall into the four main types of celebrity endorsements.
Celebrity Ads and Commercials: As the name suggests, this type involves featuring celebrities in ads and commercials, which can then be displayed as banners, social media ads, traditional television ads, and whatnot.
Celebrity Appearances in Live Events: As part of the promotional campaign, brands often ask celebrities to their live events, where they can, depending on their contract, be keynote speakers, or simply attend the event. This is done typically to capitalize on the popularity of the celebrity and attract attention to the event.
Celebrity Signature Product Lines: In this type of endorsement, brands collaborate with celebrities to create and promote product lines that bear the celebrity’s name or face. This approach is common in industries such as fashion, makeup, or lifestyle. Fenty x Puma, the collaboration between Rihanna and Puma is one of the most recognizable and successful celebrity product lines.
Celebrity Spokesperson: Celebrity spokesperson endorsements are often seen in the not-for-profit sector and cause-related campaigns. In this type of endorsement, celebrities represent and speak on behalf of an organization at third-party events and to the media. The involvement of celebrities helps to draw more attention to the cause as they advocate for the organization’s mission.
Each of these endorsement types offers distinct benefits and can be a strategically right choice depending on the needs and goals of the brand.
How To Measure The Results Of Celebrity Endorsement Ads?
To understand how your celebrity endorsement ads have worked, you need to measure and track their performance.
In traditional marketing, when the results were more or less easy to understand, in digital and omnichannel marketing, they are more fluid and leave more place for guesswork.
Notwithstanding these difficulties, you can still track the performance of your campaign. Here are a few tricks on how to do it:
- Track impressions and engagement on social platforms for your posts to see how many people the posts have reached, and which percentage reacted to them.
- Closely monitor the metrics of the ads you are running across different platforms. If there is a possibility, do A/B testing to understand which approach works better for the ads. Use custom UTM links for each campaign to know exactly how many people clicked on the ads and made purchases.
- Use QR codes or custom links for offline ads. In case you decide to install banners in different locations, including a custom QR code in the banner can yield some results and give you valuable data to work with.
You can then take these metrics and measure them against your expenses and income to understand your ROI. However, as mentioned above, celebrity endorsements require a long-term approach and can be thought of as branding as much as marketing, and you can see results further down the road.
What Is An Example Of Endorsement?
There has been an uncountable number of celebrity endorsements over the years. Some of these endorsements became quite well-known, and this success was a result of their effectiveness, strategic approach, entertainment value, and aesthetic qualities, among others. Below, we assembled a list of 10 such endorsements by the brands who got it right.
Famous Celebrity Endorsements
- Ipsy x Halsey
Ipsy, the skincare and makeup subscription service, routinely collaborates with celebrities and influencers to curate their monthly packages, the Glam Bags. One such collaboration was with award-winning singer and songwriter Halsey through their Glam Bag x Halsey collab in August 2021 to curate a limited-edition Ispy bag. The final result was a bag as vibrant as Halsey herself, who is a well-known beautyholic and loves to be creative with her makeup.
The bag was designed as an upgrade to Ipsy’s quarterly plan, and despite this, sold out almost immediately, including through the help of Halsey’s 30m+ audience who wanted to try the recommendations of their favorite artist.
- Nike x Serena Williams
One of the biggest sport apparel companies and one of the most titled athletes ever—talk about a match made in heaven! These two have had a long-standing partnership, which has resulted in several notable product releases and campaigns.
As part of the celebrity endorsement campaign, Nike worked closely to design and develop a wide range of tennis apparel and footwear combining comfort, style, and performance. This collaboration produced the “Queen Collection” and the “Greatness Collection” signature lines, which are tailored to meet the needs of professional and amateur tennis players.
In addition to the product lines, Serena also featured in a number of Nike commercials, as well as worked to promote her own line.
- Rolex X Roger Federer
Famous athletes don’t always promote sports apparel. Sometimes, they promote luxury watches.
Roger Federer, the tennis legend, has been a Rolex ambassador since 2001. In his role, Federer has over the years featured in a number of Rolex commercials, including the now-famous #Perpetual Rolex Commercial for Wimbledon 2021.
Rolex and Federer do not seem like a perfectly orchestrated advertising partnership in the traditional sense, as the audience of tennis lovers and Swiss watch lovers doesn’t appear to overlap much. However, the connection Rolex recognized is much deeper. Roger Federer embodies what Rolex stands for—excellence, the strive for perfection, attitude, perseverance, and elegance. And because of this, the partnership spanning more than two decades has been a successful and coherent one.
- Old Navy x Kristen Bell
Another notable example of a successful collaboration between a brand and a celebrity is that of singer and actress Kristen Bell and the clothing brand Old Navy.
While Bell became a brand ambassador much earlier, the most notable result of the partnership was the Back to School campaign, which includes a capsule collection. The campaign included Bell singing the Back to School anthem, while the video featured snippets of interviews with kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs, the charitable campaign the collection aimed to fund.
Bell was an effective choice for Old Navy because her relatable and down-to-earth persona resonated with the target audience of Old Navy consisting mainly of young adults and their families. The partnership, in addition to the video, included print ads, television commercials, and digital campaigns highlighting Old Navy’s promise of delivering high-quality affordable clothing. Bell actively participated in the promotion of the campaign through her own social media platforms, significantly improving the reach and contributing to its success.
- Guccy x Harry Styles
Singer and songwriter Harry Styles is well-known, in addition to his music, for his distinctive style and fashion-forward choices. He is also a fan of Gucci, and regularly appears wearing their pieces. And this is exactly why his collaboration with the luxury fashion house Gucci made sense.
In the frames of the campaign, Styles partnered with Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s Creative Director, to design a line of clothing. The collection that was created as a result of the partnership was called Gucci HA HA HA, as an acknowledgment of the duo’s joyous approach to fashion, as well as their initials.
Harry Styles has had a significant impact on popular culture over the last few years, and for Gucci’s aim to target Gen-Zers, he came as the perfect choice. The collaboration resulted in a truly unique collection, and effective digital and offline marketing campaigns to promote it, which appealed to a new generation of fans, sparked online discussions about individuality and styles, and represented Gucci in a positive light.
- COACH x Lil Nas X
The collaboration between the clothing brand COACH and rapper Lil Nas X is a prime example of how both sides can benefit from celebrity endorsement.
The collaboration came as part of COACH’s Courage to Be Real campaign, which the brand used to both promote its new line of clothing, but also to promote the rapper’s newly released song STAR WALKIN, in a dramatic short film.
Why was the campaign effective? Lil Nas X is known for his unique fashion choice, as well as always promoting how important it is to be true to yourself, whether through his music or his fashion choices. The theme of the campaign resonated with the rapper’s values and his message, and the film told the story of the rapper becoming who he is today, further indicating the brand’s commitment to inspiring limitless self-exploration. All of this has made the campaign effective, authentic, and meaningful, and helped the brand to gain attention from the musician’s fans and more.
- Diet Coke x Taylor Swift
Last on our list is the partnership between Taylor Swift and Diet Coke. Taylor is no stranger to brand endorsements, and her collaboration with the world-famous drink company is one of her longer partnerships. Since the start of the partnership in 2013, Taylor took part in numerous marketing campaigns of the brand, and was featured in Diet Coke print ads, social media ads and posts, and other online campaigns. The collaborations also included more interactive elements, including social media challenges and giveaways, which aimed to engage Swift’s fans and create a brand association through their favorite entertainer.
The partnership allowed Diet Coke to tap into the extensive audience of the singer and position itself as the right beverage choice for young music lovers while giving the artist a platform to further promote herself.
Celebrity endorsements have proven to be a popular and highly effective marketing strategy for brands across various industries, from fashion to healthcare to non-profit. This is a powerful marketing that gives a lot of place for creativity, exploration, and a chance to come up with something truly unique and impactful.
For brands, celebrity endorsements are a powerful marketing strategy that, if leveraged correctly, can improve their market standing both in the short and long run, all while giving their partner a new platform to develop. Whether it’s through ads and commercials, live event appearances, signature product lines, or acting as celebrity spokespersons, the involvement of individuals with celebrity status can significantly enhance brand visibility, attract new customers, and drive consumer engagement.