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Celebrity Ambassadors: Boon or Bane?


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As consumers, we are exposed to so many products, so many brands, so much advertising and marketing in a day that we become numb to it. Celebrity ambassadors help to sell products because the theory is that when we see a familiar face in the crowd of images blasted at us, it helps us to recall the brand they are associated with too.

And we ordinary folk look up to celebrities. The star making industry is dedicated to ensure that these celestial beings always remain a product of aspiration. We want to be like them, and the easiest way is to buy a product that celebrities claim to be using too.

So when a certain celebrity’s values align with a brand’s, it is undeniable that enlisting them as ambassadors can work out really well. It gives the brand instant credentials, and a good-looking, well-known face adds oomph and legitimacy to a brand that it may never have achieved otherwise.

Like Michael Jordan and Nike, a partnership so successful it spawned a subsidiary company – Air Jordan with the most expensive Air Jordans ever sold for over $100,000!

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Like David Beckham and H&M Bodywear, whose ad apparently caused traffic jams, maybe from the masses of women rushing to purchase the innerwear for their partners.

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Like L’Oreal and SKII, beauty brands that have long associated with a famous gorgeous actress. Who would not want glowing skin like Tang Wei? Or glorious locks like Aishwarya Rai?

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Closer to home 100 Plus has had a long relationship with Lee Chong Wei. He’s a great choice, especially after his recent foray at the Olympics. The never give up spirit he displayed is certainly a boost to a drink that helps athletes keep their energy up.

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Safee Yang Menunggang motorbikes capitalized on the short-lived fame of Harimau Malaya in a novel manner, using the ambassadors’ name as the logo. It certainly resulted in attention grabbing ads.

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Calpis also created a unique campaign with Waze and Yuna, offering Yuna’s voice as one of the options for voiceover.

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But for all the success, celebrity endorsements come with their share of shortcomings. Celebrities can get embroiled in scandals that backfire on the associated brands.

Like Nike’s ad with Oscar Pistorius, the South African Paralympic champion charged with the murder of his girlfriend.

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There is also such a thing as over exposure. Celebrity endorsements are an easy shortcut to legitimacy so it’s a marketing option that is always on the table.

At the height of his fame, Tiger Woods endorsed more than 10 brands including Nike, Tag Heuer, Gatorade, Gillete, and General Motors.

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Jackie Chan is another overexposed celebrity, representing brands as diverse as gyms, vehicles, soft drinks, electronics, frozen dumplings and hair shampoo!

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And while Lee Chong Wei is great as the face of 100 Plus and almost expected as the ambassador of Yonex, he is also the face of other brands like Samsung, XOX Mobile and Kaspersky. It starts to get a bit blurry why exactly he was chosen other than the fact that he’s a famous athlete.

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Overexposure causes problems like fatigue. When you’ve seen one face too many times, how can you remember which brand they are associated with?

However, fame is fleeting. And Malaysian consumers have never been the pickiest bunch. So perhaps it is well and good to milk the advantage as long as possible.

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