You might love to see your favorite celeb on screen but celebrity endorsements are unethical and should be banned!
Celebrity endorsements refer to the practice of businesses using celebrities to promote their services or products. It is a mutual I scratch your back-you scratch mine policy. The celebrity earns millions of dollars and other perks as part of the trade off and the company is able to make use of the star power of the celebrity, to drive the sales of its product. Examples are many: celebrities endorsing soft drinks, cereals, health drinks, cars, beauty products.
Celebrity endorsements have become a powerful tool used by companies to establish and promote their brand image as well as marketing purposes by using the influence projected by the celebrity in the public arena. Reports have shown that endorsements by celebrities can drive increase in visibility and reach of products amongst the audience. Celebrities create influence in society on the basis of their personal and profefssional achievements. What celebrities do is that, for a certain amount of money, they will certify some or other attribute of the company, which is a testimony and corroboration of what the company wants to be known for.
Celebrity endorsement is believed to confer added advantage to companies in a highly competitive and global market. While it looks simple, it is not easy as the company has to find the kind of celebrity whose ethos and values mirror and reflect the company’s brand image. Celebrities also need to be careful and be judicious about the companies they associate with as this association can be permanent, even if they part ways later on. Anything unsavoury on part of either the company or the celebrity can affect both to their own detriment. Hence while celebrity endorsements may lend a temporary lustre to a company and can be a short cut to achieveing visibility, it cannot replace branding, carried out the traditional way.
Some Famous Celebrity Endorsements:
We are surrounded by examples of celebrity endorsements. E,g. is Angelina Jolie endorsing Lous Vuitton bag, Brad Pitt endorsing a perfume, Brooke Shields and Calvin Klein. We have many famous celebrities endorsing sports, drinks, food, cars, watches etc. The list is endless. But is this healthy and ethical practice? Are such endorsements believable and acceptable?
There are many concerns which warrants such questions and deservedly so.
1. Questions of Genuineness– Are such endorsements genuine? In other words, how authentic, how real and how truthful are these endorsements. Has the product been really used and its efficacy confirmed by the endorsee? This is one major valid doubt as many times celebrities may be seen endorsing products which they may be barely using.
2. Endorsement of unhealthy habits or substances– We all know about the lucrative deals which are provided by purveyors of products such as cigarettes, alcohol etc and the power and the influence this industry weilds? So are celebrities, who endorse such products, indirectly endorsing habits which can be destructive to the user? Given that celebrities have huge influence over the minds and hearts of their followers, especially the younger generation, this is a very valid concern. This also includes promotion of soft drinks, sweets, fast food etc which are not so harmful but where addiction can causes harm
3. Conflicts between the celebrity’s real life values and the values espoused by the brand he or she promotes. Another reason, why one does not have much inclination to find endorsements ethical are when the celebrity’s public or private espousal of his values have nothing to do with that of the product he or she is endorsing. This results in conflicts and issues for the company and is sheer hypocrisy and is an example of unfair practices, which is clearly not in the interests of the customer. To prevent such issues, celebrity and the company needs to be honest with each other and only those products which are in line with the personal value of the celebrities should be used for endorsement. Companies have to take a call on how much damage would be done to the brand by association with a scandal tainted celebrity.
4. Celebrity endorsements should not be given more weightage then experts’ opinions and is considered unethical practice if done so
5. Misleading statements by celebrities can again spoil the image of the brand they are advertising and is detrimental to customer interest.
6. Money Spent- Companies need to ask themselves whether is it ireally advisable and necessary to get celebrity endorsements done and whether the huge amount of money shelled out really justifies the unpredictable value of celebrity endorsement advertisement and branding benefits? The value conferred by a celebrity endorsement is referred to as a borrowed equity and there is not guarantee of it. So it would make better sense for the company to follow established , time tasted and more reliable branding devices, rather then spending fortunes on celebrities. In addition, the value conferred by the celebrity is for the celebrity and not for the brand per se. In case, the celebrity is dissatisfied and withdraws his investment from the company, the company’s branding which had depended heavily on him would suffer.
So When Will Celebrity Endorsements Work?
Celebrity endorsements will be productive, genuine and meaningful only when there is a genuine association between the brand and the celebrity, where each reinforce the other values and principles and there is no trade off on that. In short, it has to revolve around integrity. Which is not what happens in many cases, where there is no actual connect between the brand and the celebrity and in such cases, the impact factor would be zilch. In fact, while the celebrity may profit in terms of visibility and fees from the company, there may be a negative effect on the company in terms of the customers not appreciating or disliking the choice or relevance of the celebrity associated with the brand. In addition, companies have to ensure that their branding efforts have to be about them and not about the celebrity because it is all about the product.
So companies, need to really think about how much they are going to compromise their core values and image all for the sake of profits. After all, it is their customers who are the core of their business.