Celebrity Endorsers: Spokesperson Selection Criteria and Case Examples of FREDD

By Swerdlow, Robert A.; Swerdlow, Marleen R. | Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, July 2003 | Go to article overview

Celebrity Endorsers: Spokesperson Selection Criteria and Case Examples of FREDD


Swerdlow, Robert A., Swerdlow, Marleen R., Academy of Marketing Studies Journal


ABSTRACT

Famous personalities have been used to endorse products for many years. When considering the choice of using a famous spokesperson, a marketing manager must understand the advantages and disadvantages of using celebrity endorsers. A good celebrity-product association can capture a viewer's attention, increase the public's awareness of the product, and cause consumers to purchase the product endorsed. However, a bad celebrity-product association can be very costly and risky depending on the potentially volatile image, nature, and credibility of the spokesperson used. Marketing research has found several models for evaluating celebrities as potential endorsers. FREDD, developed by Young and Rubicam Agency, is a helpful tool for assessing the best characteristics of a celebrity as a potential product endorser. Cases are presented to develop the FREDD assessment.

INTRODUCTION

Businesses have long sought to distract and attract the attention of potential customers that live in a world of ever-increasing commercial bombardment. Everyday Americans are exposed to thousands of voices and images in magazines, newspapers, and on billboards, websites, radio and television. Ads of all varieties pop up everywhere on streets, in stores and restaurants, and on public transportation. Each of these ads attempts to steal at least a fraction of an unsuspecting person's time to inform him or her of the amazing and different attributes of the product at hand. Because of the constant media saturation that most people experience daily, they eventually become numb to standard advertising. The challenge of the advertiser is to find a hook that will hold the subject's attention and keep them from changing the channel or turning the page.

One well-used approach at differentiating advertisements is the use of celebrity endorsements. Celebrities are seen as dynamic individuals with likeable and attractive qualities. The words and sometimes just the image of a popular person will cause many people to stop and pay attention. For years, professional athletes, famous actors, and musicians have been the traditional favorites to feature in advertisements. As the ad market continues to grow and competition becomes fiercer, marketers have turned to new categories of celebrity spokespersons. Notable ex-politicians, successful mutual fund managers, and high-profile CEO's are now used with frequency to sell a variety of products. Celebrity endorsers also need not be human. A champion racehorse sells pet food in Great Britain. Cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny and Fred Flintstone sell network television and breakfast cereals in America. Puppets such as Big Bird sell children's vitamins (Miciak & Shanklin, 1994). New categories for celebrity endorsers are opening every day as the reach of the media moves closer to home.

Some advertisers even create their own celebrity to sell their product. Subway Sandwiches made a celebrity out of one of their loyal customers. Their spokesman, Jared whose only claim to fame is consuming mass quantities of Subway sandwiches, has been featured in magazines and on various television shows. Dell Computer has created a fictionalized slacker character to represent their products. After a series of successful television spots, the actor who plays 'Steven' has become a celebrity himself appearing on news and other programs.

Using celebrity fame, bought or contrived, has certain advantages and risks. A celebrity-product association can capture a viewer's attention, increase the public's awareness of the product, and cause consumers to purchase the product endorsed. In contrast, celebrity-products associations can be very costly and risky based on the potentially volatile image, nature, and credibility of the spokesperson used.

Beginning with a review of the literature, we explore the history and the pros and cons of using a celebrity to endorse a manufacturer's product or service. …

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