Famous Faces...

What do brands get out of celebrity endorsements? A well-worn cliché, or do they really add value? Here are our thoughts… This week saw the first airing of Santander’s new ad campaign featuring their three sporting celebrities – Jessica Ennis, Jenson Button and Rory McIlroy. This prompted regional marketing site The Drum to run an article entitled ‘Marketing Weak’ in which not only the acting prowess of the sporting trio, but the entire idea itself, was called into question.

In the case of the former, it’s a difficult thing to criticise. All three are well used to being in front of a camera in their ‘day jobs’. But clearly, delivering a script and ‘proper acting’ is a world away from addressing the world’s media. In the interests of balance, we’re pretty sure Daniel Day-Lewis would find a Formula One car a bit of a struggle, and no doubt Helen Mirren would be out of her depth with a javelin. So they were only doing their best with the talents they have.

The idea is another thing altogether. Take the ‘celebrities’ out of the equation and would we even be writing this blog? Probably not. Put simply, a bad ad is a bad ad, no matter whom you get to appear in it. It doesn’t help when those in question are selling something they clearly have no link to. We’re pretty sure Rory, Jenson or Jess aren’t too fussed about saving 2% on their utility bills, so using high profile, (presumably) wealthy people to market everyday stuff creates a lack of believability.

So, any good examples of celebrity endorsement? Well, we like American Airlines and Kevin Spacey. You can see genuine parallels with his and their brand values. Plus he can act, clearly. But coming back to sport, Mercedes-Benz did some good stuff with Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, and Vodafone also used Lewis and Jenson. What marks these good sporting examples out, though, are the fact that they barely speak, or if they do it’s not delivering a script, but just being themselves.

Last summer, we delivered a project for Cheadle Hulme School, called ‘What is a Waconian?’ (A Waconian, incidentally, is the name given to a pupil, past or present, of CHS). Our concept revolved around testimony, but those selected to give their views of the School were chosen because their achievements and qualities matched those we wished to communicate, irrespective of whether they were ‘famous’ or not. As it turned out, two were in the public eye. Go and have a look and let us know what you think…


OpinionPaul Hartley