Big Names Punch Their Weight; Get the Right Celebrity to Endorse Your Product and the Results Can Be Spectacular,as Louise Davies Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: Louise Davies

CELEBRITY sells and it is one of the oldest and most famous tricks in the advertising book.

Businesses have been looking to celebrities to sell their products and brands for more than 100 years and on the other side of the coin endorsements can be a very lucrative project for stars and their bank accounts.

MichaelOwen and DavidBeckhamare worth millions but their salaries from their ``day jobs'' only make up a fraction of their wealth -the rest comes from sponsorship and advertising deals.

Owen is said to be worth over pounds 20m taking into account his deals with Umbro,Tissot watches and Lucozade to name a few; his sponsorship deals take his pounds 60,000-a-week salary at Liverpool to in excess of pounds 100,000.

But despite the obvious benefits to both sides if a campaign is successful, using celebrities as a marketing tool comes in many forms -all of which can be extremely risky.

We live in an age obsessed with fame and the more cynical may say a company that doesn't have a good marketing idea will just turn to a celebrity. But many businesses on Merseyside still see it as one of the most effective forms of promotion for their products.

Everyone remembers when the ``oo'' was put in Typhoo by Frankie Howerd many moons ago and the tea product will always be associated with that advert.

However the tea market is notoriously competitive and Typhoo makers Premier Foods, based in Moreton, has spent pounds 5m on the brand this year including pounds 3m worth of TV ads -without using celebrities.

Last year champagne socialists Peter Mandelson and Johnny Hornby combined their spin doctoring talents to try and boost sales of the Merseysidemanufactured beverage.

The first advert featured a flustered executive in a board meeting blowing up like a balloon before being calmed down by a soothing Typhoo cuppa.

One interesting piece of spin on this story is the fact that many newspapers hyped up that `Mandy' was putting the ``oo'' backinTyphoo. Not abadfree plug but he didn't have quite the same effect as Carry On actor Mr Howerd. There are many more companies which are fortunate enough to have benefited from free plugs by celebrities.

Liverpool sugar giant Edward Billington & Sons remains low profile on Merseyside but it has benefited from friends in high places -like queen of cooking DeliaSmith.

As well as her books and TV shows,Deliaapplauds Billington's sugars on her web site Delia Online. ``Family firm Billington's have shared their skills and enthusiasm with those of the Mauritius Sugar Syndicate to create together what is without doubt the finest collection of quality sugars in the world,'' she says.

Crystal Clear International has become a global brand name worth pounds 5m, thanks to its specialist skin care products and innovative exfoliating machines used by celebrities such as Madonna.

Boss Sharon Hilditch has seen her company turnover treble in the last year alone. With 700 salons nationwide, a thriving mail-order business and the US market under her belt, she has well and truly arrived.

High-profile clients such as Madonna and Oscar-winner Halle Berry have both been quoted in magazines as using Crystal Clear treatments and up on her office wallMs Hilditch's most treasured possession from Crystal Clear's Knightsbridge salon is a signed photo from West End star Martine McCutcheon that reads: ``I couldn't do without Crystal Clear.'' Ms Hilditch says she has never relied on advertising within trade press to help promote the brand name. ``I believe it is more about educating the public and word of mouth. Our success is due in part to all the glowing endorsements we receive from a growing following of celebrity fans including Madonna, Dido and Jude Law. It has helped reinforce our position as preferred `beauty treatment to the stars'.''

Halewood International, which produces drinks such as Red Squareand Lambrini at its base in Huyton Industrial estate,has a long standing relationship with heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis. …