Are celebrity brand ambassadors worth the money? The Marketing Society Forum

Insurance brand Privilege.com has stopped hiring famous faces for its campaigns.

MAYBE - THOMAS DELABRIERE, MARKETING PORTFOLIO DIRECTOR, MARS CHOCOLATE

Celebrity ambassadors are worth the money if they meet two criteria. First, they must act as a short cut to the brand positioning you want to communicate. It saves money in the long run.

Second, ideally they should be used consistently over a few years, across all supports, to drive brand recognition. To do that, you need to pick the relevant celebrity for your brand, and make sure this ambassador will be proud to endorse it in the long term.

For me, the best campaigns in this area are the retailers' campaigns using celebrity chefs and, of course, the Gary Lineker saga with Walkers, a great example of a brand ambassador meeting these two criteria.

MAYBE - TIM CURTIS, MULTICHANNEL DIRECTOR, IDEAL SHOPPING DIRECT

It depends how much they cost versus the brand value you derive. If we assume the amount you pay reflects the brand value you gain, the core trade-off is between the profile and relevance of the celebrity versus the marketing spend required to deliver equivalent brand value.

That is where the biggest gain can be made - the celebrity association can more quickly and cost-effectively deliver your message than the process of brand advertising. This comes at a risk: you are trusting their continued reputation and relevance, and you'll still need to invest in promoting the association, so the bill doesn't end with the agent's fee. Caveat emptor.

YES - JEMIMA BIRD, MARKETING DIRECTOR, TRAGUS

At the right moment and for the right reasons, celebrity ambassadors are worth the money.

When you are launching or trying to reposition a brand, for example, the right celebrity speaks volumes beyond what the ad itself is saying.

Michael Winner's 'Calm down dear' entered the vernacular and whether you loved or hated him, you remembered the ad. If you market a brand that needs to make a statement, the right personality can lift you into a different league.

TV is still where it's at, and maximum exposure with the right personality is gold dust. Ensuring the personality matches the segment is critical - Justin Bieber advertising Nintendo doesn't do it for me, but then I'm hardly a pubescent 12-year-old girl.

MAYBE - WILL ARNOLD-BAKER, MANAGING DIRECTOR, PUBLICIS

There's a certain amount of chutzpah involved in proclaiming the virtue of a non-celebrity approach for one insurance brand, while pairing a northern animatronic dog with Martin Clunes for its sister brand.

Maybe that's the point. Sometimes celebrity ambassadors are worth the money, sometimes they're not. They must be relevant to the brand, or at least the idea.

For a fine example, check out our campaign for Tourism Ireland, featuring Chris O'Dowd.


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