The last six months have not been good for Tiger Woods. Revelations of his private life were sprawled across the press resulting in three major sponsors pulling the plug; Accenture, AT&T, and most recent recently sports drinks company, Gatorade.
Following this, it seems that more companies are coming to understand the potential drawbacks of the celebrity spokesperson paradigm; Tiger Woods is simply the most obvious example of what can go wrong.
But let’s take a step back and have a look at what actually makes celebrity endorsements so powerful?
Celebrities transfer their positive qualities in adverts, such as their talent, reputation and likeability, onto the product. In numerous ways, they also act as the brand’s spokesperson, providing credibility and the thumbs up in the eyes of their hero worshipping public.
Celebrity endorsements can and do raise awareness across the public sphere whilst increasing a product’s appeal. The endorsements also influence the buying decisions of fans wanting to emulate their favourite stars – hence the reason so many brands are happy to pay millions for a brief share of a celebrities’ limelight.
Take Barack Obama as another example, Brand Obama is still regarded as the World’s number one brand due to the global popularity of the president. His unofficial endorsement of Blackberry is even estimated to be worth over 30 million dollars in marketing – and the best part is that he hasn’t been paid to do it.
New deals are continuing to be rolled out, including Olympian Michael Phelps staring in the new Subway commercials, with industry experts believing, if anything, the use of celebrity endorsers seem to be making a comeback, with the draw of big names being stronger than ever – partially as result of so many stars using social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook to establish one-to-one connections with consumers.
It’s been just a little over two weeks since Tiger Woods’ cringing public apology for being unfaithful to his wife, and he is already back on the golf course working on his long-time swing and preparing his comeback. Amazing isn’t it? I can’t help but think Woods’ comeback to golf may prove easier than his return to the heights of celebrity endorsement.
Needless to say, the fact still remains that the idea of having a famous face to front an advertising campaign can give brands that extra special ingredient that can help it stand out. But as more and more stars pull down their brands, is another kind of celebrity endorsement in order? Tiger Woods may survive the criticisms fired at him over the past few months, but will his individual brand fight through? I’m not convinced.