It would be a lie to say that I have always understood celebrity endorsement. It can sometimes feel like paying to have people show up to your own party – if it was really that good, then surely people would want to show up anyway, even without being paid? It’s sometimes difficult to get the stench of ingenuity out of your nose whenever you come across a celebrity endorsed product.
Having said this, the university project I’ve recently undertaken required me to research a selection of celebrity endorsements and analyse whether they were successful or not and why. I have to say, I have learnt a lot and I can see that celebrity endorsement can sometimes be a necessary part of an advertising campaign.
A good fit between a brand and a celebrity spokesperson or endorser can add to the persuasiveness of any advertising campaign. Choice of celebrity is important, as their face becomes associated with the brand and any publicity they receive (good or bad) may directly influence the opinion and sales of the product they are endorsing.
An endorser or spokesperson’s characteristics influence how persuasive they will appear to the target audience. Shimp created a model that organises these characteristics into two categories – credibility and attractiveness. These consist of further sub-attributes: trustworthiness and expertise are two dimensions of credibility, whereas physical attractiveness, respect and similarity (to the target audience) are components of attractiveness. All of these categories are brought together to form the acronym TEARS.
T – Trustworthiness is measured by how deserving the spokesperson is of confidence – is what they say likely to be truthful and can they be depended upon?
E – Expertise refers to how much knowledge, experience, and skill the endorser has with regard to the brand in question. For example, athletes are considered to be experts when it comes to endorsing sports-related products and models are perceived as experts on beauty-enhancing products.
A – Attractiveness includes any traits that the target audience may find aspirational or desirable. This could include; intellectual skills, lifestyle characteristics or trendy physical features.
R – Respect refers to whether or not the endorser has managed to build a good reputation and create a strong relationship with the public. Are the target audience and brand in question fond of them?
S – Similarity refers to whether the values and characteristics of the endorser match that of the target audience. Are they both interested in the same things?
In conclusion, celebrities do it for some people and they don’t do it for others – and sometimes people like celebrities that other people don’t. The only right answer is to make sure each individual brand thoroughly understands their target customers. This way, each company will find a spokesperson that fits into the TEARS model and connects with their own individual brand image and target audience.