The Advantages and Disadvantages of Celebrity Endorsements

From Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall advertising Robert Burns Cigarillos and Betty Davis selling Lustre Cream Shampoo to Bill Cosby and Jello Pudding, companies have long loved using celebrities to endorse their brands. And who can forget Brooke Shields’ famous line, “You wanna know what comes between me and my Calvins?”

It’s true: Celebrity endorsements can reap huge rewards for a brand. Yet they have numerous pitfalls that companies should consider before developing an endorsement program.

The Benefits of Celebrity Endorsements

Note: It takes time and repetition for association to occur. Celebrity endorsements are not short-term tactics.

Selecting a Celebrity for a Brand

Brands are important company assets. Advertisers need to select celebrities who represent the image and promise of their brands. (For more information on brand promises, read FrogDog’s article series on branding.) Not all celebrities fit with all brands.

For example, at the height of “Sex and the City,” Sarah Jessica Parker signed on as a face of Gap. However, Parker was so closely associated with her show’s haute couture style that the association didn’t resonate with consumers. In 2005, Gap replaced her with Joss Stone and Keith Urban, who are more likely to wear Gap-style clothing in the public eye. Since then, Gap has continued to use celebrities who align better with their brand, such as the Avett Brothers and Kaki King.

The Risks of Celebrity Endorsement

Yet even if a celebrity is a good fit for the brand, using one for endorsements has its own set of possible risks:

Thinking about using a celebrity for endorsement? Not a bad idea. But you might want to think twice—it’s a possible minefield.


Image courtesy of Savatore Vuono/