Should I Use a Celebrity or a Real Person in My Ad?


Recently, it seems as if more brands are opting to use ‘real people’ in their ad campaigns. Dove, for instance, has developed several “Real Beauty” campaigns that feature real, everyday women of all body types. Despite the rise of these “socially realistic” ads, flashy ads that feature celebrity endorsers aren’t going anywhere. According to entertainment agency the Hollywood Madison Group, close to 20% of all television ads feature a famous person. This leaves brands with an important question: Are celebrities or real people more effective at reaching consumers?

The fact is, there’s no simple answer. It depends on the brand, the product or service you’re selling, your target audience, and your budget. Brands should focus on their target audience and their product or service and ask themselves, “Will a real person or a celebrity connect with our target audience and product or service more?”

Celebrity endorsements can lead to increased sales and publicity based on the popularity of the celebrity. We know from our own experience that NutriSystem switched from ‘real people’ testimonials in the 1980s to celebrities in the 2000s. They must believe celebrities work better because they’ve stuck with them ever since. That said, brands shouldn’t force a celebrity endorsement if it doesn’t suit your product or service; you would be much better off focusing on developing compelling ad creative that connects with your target audience. If you do choose to pursue a celebrity spokesperson, the celebrity should have a viable connection to the use of your product or service. Kim Kardashian is a very influential person, but it would appear strange and unconvincing to see her endorsing a lawn mower.

The celebrity’s familiarity and likability should also be evaluated. Does your target audience know who this celebrity is? Is this celebrity well liked? Consider the risk factor of hiring a particular celebrity to endorse your product or service. You should steer clear of celebrities who have a negative reputation or a penchant for trouble. Your brand could suffer significantly if your celebrity endorser receives bad press and consumers begin associating the celebrity’s negative behavior with your brand.

Using real people in ad campaigns can be just as effective as using celebrities. Real people tend to be more effective in ads for products and services that revolve around social approval. Celebrities are a good fit for products or services that are aspirational.

Whether or not you want or can afford a celebrity, if you stay committed to your brand’s target audience and message, you should wind up with an effective ad.


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