4 more years…..

….of Michelle Obama.

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Following the success of President Barrack Obama in the US Presidential elections, it’s not just 4 more years of the 44th President, but also 4 more years of Michelle. And like any first lady, the past 4 years have included constant analysis of her clothes.  Every outfit documented, picked over and commented on, there is even a website that posts information on every outfit of the first lady as she wears them.

Not only are her clothing choices instantly given the fashionistas thumbs up or thumbs down, they also provide an instant sales boost for a host of designers. After Obama’s first year in office it was reported that various clothing labels had benefited to the tune of nearly $3 billion through Michelle donning their outfits.

In 2008 for her first television appearance she wore J.Crew, an American high street retailer, and uttered the words “this is a J. Crew ensemble. You can get some good stuff online,” That one statement crashed the company’s website and saw a spike in their share price. The same happened when she wore a $148 dress on another TV appearance, with the dress selling out across the US almost instantly.

Another study concluded that every time she wears a fashion label, high street or designer she lands the fashion retailer $14million in increased sales.

At home it’s Kate Middleton who sends shoppers into a frenzy over the must have dress, with her infamous appearance in a £175 Reiss dress when she meet the Obamas. The dress instantly sold out online and sent traffic to their online store spiking.

Gaining the Presidential or the Royal seal of approval is a massive sales boost to fashion retailers, as well as doing wonders for their marketing, and all for free. Both ladies make their own fashion choices and it also helps that they both wear “affordable fashion”, and do not have to paid like “normal” celebrities to endorse a fashion brand.

Would the same work if we were to see Kate or Michelle drinking a can of Pepsi, or playing on the new HTC phone? Or is this particular phenomenon only applicable to the fashion industry? Of course we will never know as the first family of America and Royal family at home can not endorse brands in the same way they can lend their support to good causes. But an organic brand link can be even more powerful than a conventional paid-for endorsement, and if these ladies are wearing something they much be recommending it.

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What’s next for Celebrity Endorsement?

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.