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.


Maeda M said...

I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your presentation last night, because I think that the majority of people have these imaginary social relationships without realizing it. I know that I consider Kim Kardashian my best friend, because I watch her show religiously. I don't really have any other connection with her, but I have found myself defending her on numerous occasions in discussions with my room mates.

I know that if Justin Beiber started representing Verizon, I would be appalled. I can't stand him, and I am a Verizon user. If he began advertising Verizon, I think that it would definitely affect the way that I think and feel about the product. It might even make me switch companies.

jfmulieri12 said...

I really liked reading this blog post. I have certianly noticed throughout this class that advertising with celebrities is risky business. It is risky business because it can easily eliminate a large part of the target audience like in the Tom Brady case many Baltimore fans such as yourself will no longer support an athletic apparel company based in their own city. However, it can also work out in a very positive way for Under Armour. What I mean by this is that Tom Brady is one of the best players in the NFL, so anybody no living in a city that hates him will now be more likely to buy Under Armour.

On the other hand is the subject of imaginary social relationships. Personally, I would never let hatred for a celebrity influence whether or not I buy something that they advertise for. If I like a type of clothing, shoe, or brand, I will not let my opinions of celebrity deter me from making that purchase. However, I can easily see how so many people could make decisions like this based purely off of emotion.

goale05 said...

I agree with your statement that the use of celebrities in advertising is a risky business. Every celebrity out there, no matter how many fans they have, also is disliked by many people. When a company decides to use a celebrity to endorse their product, they need to be aware of the possible disadvantages of their decision. If the celebrity promoting a product is disliked by a large amount of people, then the company can lose business. Companies can't be tempted by famous people due to the attention they might bring to the product. Not all attention is good for a company, such as the attention Tiger Woods brought to the products he endorsed after the details of his scandal were released.

In the case of Under Armour choosing Tom Brady as their celebrity endorser, I completely agree with you. While I am neither a Ravens or a Patriots fan (go Eagles!), I think that Under Armour's decision was illogical. Being based in Baltimore, I think that the only logical answer to who should represent their product is a Baltimore Athlete.

Alison Marshall said...

Using celebrities can be very positive, or very negative. It all depends on if a person likes the celebrity or not. For example, in the case of Tom Brady and Under Armour, there will probably be a large amount of people from New England who see Tom Brady in an Under Armour ad, and rush to the nearest mall. At the same time, a large number of people will see the ad and run as far away from the mall as possible. So this brings up the question- is it really worth it? It's hard to say if there are more people who like Tom Brady, or more people who hate Tom Brady. Would it be more effective to just not use a celebrity because that could possible ruin sales- or is it worth the risk?
It is the same way with companies and politics. I am always confused when I see political signs outside restaurants or shops. People can be very passionate about politics, and companies can potentially lose customers forever over this. I think it's best for companies to stay neutral as often as possible.

Kerry said...

Yes, there is risk involved in celebrity endorsements. However, there is risk involved in every type of advertising. For example, if I see any commercial that I think is cheesy, I am less likely to purchase the product. This is regardless of whether or not a celebrity is involved. It is easy to say that you are going to switch brands because of a commercial but personally I don't think I would ever go that far. If I like a certain product I will still get it, even if Miley Cyrus is promoting it.

In Tom Brady's case, there is a lot going for him that the general public would want to imitate. Even if a guy isn't a Patriots fan, they would be lying if they said they wouldn't want to be married to a Victoria's Secret supermodel. Celebrities bring a lot of angles to ads that unknown models just simply can't.