For as long as there has been advertising, there have been celebrity endorsers or spokespersons. At some point, I should probably write about the difference between an endorser and a spokesperson. But for now, let's just talk about some big issues in deciding to use a celebrity in your advertising and in selecting that person. Here are three things to consider:
1. Is this person really a celebrity? Seems like a no-brainer, and it probably should be. But sadly, it is not.You are spending brand capital and budget resources to attach yourself to this person. You are paying them, basically, for who they are, what they've done, and what you expect them to do. You are hitching your brand wagon to their horse. So, make sure they have the horsepower.
There are reasons Michael Jordan, Jay Leno, and Jerry Seinfeld make big bucks as celebrity spokesmen. And the biggest reason is that they really are celebrities. Everyone has heard of them.
If you have to spend your budget explaining to your customers and your prospects that your spokesperson is a celebrity, that they should have heard of him or her, and why, that is budget you are not spending generating transactions. Kinda defeats the purpose of a celebrity endorsement.
2. What does this person have to do with your value proposition? It's not enough just to be known. Your spokesperson | endorser should be known for something relevant to your selling proposition. Micheal Jordan was a slam dunk (nice pun, huh) for basketball shoes bearing his name and image. A NASCAR driver might be a good fit for a speedy delivery service. Danica Patrick would work well for a whole host of brands that represent women in non-traditional roles.
Some of the worst are College Football Coaches hocking...well...anything. There is no doubt they are well known. But why would anyone expect them to have any credibility about anything but football. I mean, these guys are very specialized. They are notoriously busy and myopic (like, they don't have time to think about anything but football, so why would anyone expect them to know about anything but football?).
3. How likely is this person to embarrass you at some point? Ray Lewis. Lawrence Taylor (or anyone related to Lawrence Taylor). Aaron Hernandez. AARON HERNANDEZ.
Not to pick on anyone. But in general, it's probably a good idea to steer clear of anyone under 30, who makes millions of dollars for beating people up. OF course, Kobe Bryant. And Lance Armstrong.
I'm gonna go out on a limb, now. Tim Tebow will go down in history as a much better celebrity spokesman (for the right product) than he ever will as a great football player (which is not to say he is a bad football player...like, who am I to comment on THAT?).
Too often, celebrity spokesperson seems like an easy shortcut, a silver bullet. As we said here, there are no bad ideas. But you need to have a strategy first. Then, decide if a celebrity is the best spend for achieving your strategic objectives. And only then, should you start to look for the right celebrity. Don't get starstruck. And beware of "celebrities" you've never heard of, who come looking for you, offering their services.