Celebrity Endorsements and Potatoes

I seen the second part of the Albert Barlet Rooster Potatoes advert a few days ago and it prompted me to look into celebrities in advertising. Marcia Cross is the last celebrity you would expect to be advertising potatoes – in fact there are very few you would. What I like about this advert is that in a Skoda-esque way it plays up to this very idea. Here is the first advert:

This is the follow-up one:

Her red hair is one of the more obvious reasons they chose her, apposed to say any of the other Desperate Housewives. (It’s the fact that the potatoes are red which makes them different from regular potatoes) I suppose Bree being a chef helps as well. However it’s the fact that she doesn’t fit that actually makes it work. It’s the element of surprise, especially in the second one where she could just as easily be talking about her hair. I must admit I also like how they are slightly lampooning hair adverts too.

I decided to do some research about using celebrities in advertising. In a recent lecture my tutor told us about the failure of the Sainsburys adverts featuring John Cleese. These adverts featured him as an eccentric running about the store with a megaphone, shouting at the staff and making them look foolish. I looked it up to find that the campaign was done by the Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO agency who were trying to communicate the message of “value worth shouting about”. Unfortunately the sudden shift from promoting their quality (which Sainsburys had always did in the past, at that time) to then promoting their value was not well received. On top of this the actual staff of Sainsburys were unhappy with the message it sent out about them. I can see why too, it was when you think about it, disrespectful to deem it funny to have someone shouting at them. I read an old article on where Stefano Hatfield, the editor of Campaign magazine said:

“John Cleese is the last resort of people who have run out of ideas”

If you look at Sainsburys adverts now, John Cleese is a long way off from Jamie Oliver who greatly helped to rescue their brand image. This got me thinking about how brands know which celebrities to chose. I would imagine they would want someone who perhaps had a connection to the product.For example, Jamie Oliver is related to Sainsburys because people know him as a television chef thus has an association with good food. In this way he is related to the brand because of his skills and talents. Besides this, his image as a husband and father will help too as it’s something he has in common with families, particularly mums, doing the weekly shop (who I imagine would be a very important section of Sainsburys target market)

According to the Advertising Handbook there has to be a certain amount of synergy between the brand, the celebrity and indeed the target audience. If they manage to strike a good balance then the ‘cultural capital’ that the celebrity has will convert into ‘economical capital’ for the brand. So basically, the seal of approval from a celebrity who people recognise or trust or look-up to will encourage them to recognise, trust and hopefully buy the product. On choosing the celebrity to do this, Helen Powell comments in the Handbook that:

“. . . the value of a celebrity to an advertising campaign and the brand they are endorsing comes from what they represent: a particular image that consumers identify with and wish to buy into. This might be affiliated to their looks, their lifestyle, their personality or a particular skill set, or any combination of these”

Looking back at what I said about Jamie Oliver I can see how people would like to buy into his image as a good cook who likes cooking for his family and friends. Powell goes on to say that in advertising people draw upon what they know about the celebrity and embed that into their interpretation of the advert. You could say this is simply a connotation. What is important however is that you could not achieve the effect of this connotation in a normal advert. The association people have with the celebrity and the emotional attachment they might have towards them is something that has built up over a long period of time. I can now see and understand that this is the value of celebrities. It’s their reputation and their association that is worth something. I just wonder how this worth relates to the actual cost of hiring them…


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