Choose carefully! A celebrity can bring instant brand recognition and an endorsement that will build business rapidly. Do your homework and look for any possible pitfalls – for example, Michael Vick isn’t going to sell much dog food. Here are 3 campaigns that backfired and 3 that brought home the bacon with increased sales and great buzz.
- The bad. It really never took off. When Buffalo Wild Wings brought on comedian Steve Rannazzisi they thought they’d bring a smile to their customers’ faces and solidify the BWW was a great place for wings and fun. Unfortunately, Rannazzisi was man enough to own up to his lies about his whereabouts during 9/11. Good for him – good for his conscious, but not so good for Buffalo Wild Wings who had to clip this campaign’s wings before it really took off.
- The good. Ellen DeGeneres may have seemed like a strange choice for Cover Girl cosmetics. After all, she was known for her humor, not her beauty. But, the fresh-faced 56 year old was a convincing spokesperson surprising some of her fans at her new role as a beauty. She continues to represent the brand and continues to look just like a Cover Girl.
- Worse! Tiger Woods had it all – a winning golf game, a beautiful wife and captivating children, until…. When his family drama played out in the press, companies like Nike and other sponsor shareholders lost up to an estimated $12,000,000,000. His role as a spokesperson (Rolex) and his golf game are both still struggling for the limelight that once was theirs.
- Better. WOW! “I can’t believe it’s not butter” became one of the most quoted television commercials of all times. Straight from the covers of hundreds of romance novels, Fabio won the heart of women everywhere and an increase in sales of the margarine. What woman wouldn’t try a product that could bring Fabio to a blissful smile? It was good for the product with the same name as the catch phrase and good for Fabio who went on to enjoy a career as a spokesperson.
- The very worst. There’s no way that Subway can get rid of the bad taste of Jared Fogle left behind when he pled guilty to child pornography and paying to have sex with minors. Worse, some press pointed out that the success of the Subway campaign gave him the power to carry out these acts. A healthy image became very unhealthy overnight – a big, big loss to the sandwich chain.
- The best. Nike Air Jordans! Need we say more? A $2.5 million, 5-year deal inked in the 1980s became a legendary success. Twenty-five years later, Nike has a Jordan Brand subsidiary that still turns out clothing and shoes that remain highly sought-after by consumers of all ages. And, Michael Jordan continues to add his physique, his smile and his reputation to the success of Nike – plus, he added Hanes to his portfolio.
Whether it’s an actress saying “Where’s the beef?”, a big-name celebrity or a local store owner, consistency of message and spokesperson helps build a brand and its reputation. It can be a small
investment or a big expenditure, but any way you look at it, you’re placing a bet on the future of your company. Make sure you’re using smart money!