Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Emotions and Celebrity Endorsers
So, I’m really upset--that is to say I’m emotional--right now, because I read this morning that Baltimore-based Under Armour signed New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to a major endorsement deal that includes a owning a piece of the company. What? Tom Brady owns a piece of Baltimore? As a Baltimore Ravens fan, I think that sucks. Moreover, I don’t like Tom Brady on so many levels, and that brings me to the topic of my blog post. I’m speaking tonight about Imaginary Social Relationships we conduct with media figures. Sometimes these relationships are based on liking or love, sometimes on extreme admiration, and in this case it’s out and out hate. There’s an advertising connection here, because I buy Under Armour products, or at least I used to. Now I understand perfectly well that I am not the target audience for the line of products that Brady is going to be hawking for Under Armour. However, throughout the history of advertising endorsers were supposed to be those we admired, those we want to emulate. In fact, emulation is the basis for using famous people as product endorsers. So, what happens when someone like me learns that a nemesis is endorsing “my” brand, or for someone else who may have used a product endorsed by Tiger Woods before his fall from grace, or any number of celebrity endorsers for whom we have over the years changed our opinions from positive to negative. My point here is that using celebrities in advertising is always risky business. If there is a consistency between the celebrity, the product, and a set of values that are shared with the consumer, then perhaps it makes sense to use a celebrity as a spokesperson. But Under Armour just made a Nike fan out of me. Take that Tom Brady.