When will I be famous?

It seems that the British public is as in love with celebrity as ever. Last weekend’s TV show The X Factor final – where youngsters compete for musical fame – pulled in nearly 20 million viewers. And a study by MEC Medialab says we are so seduced by the sight of a famous face that one in four of us claim that we will buy a product simply because a celebrity is promoting it. Click here to read the full research.

But using well-known figures effectively isn’t as easy as picking a familiar figure, asking them to stand in front of a camera and repeat a slogan. Brands need to think strategically about which celebrities they use; with one in four brands globally now using celebrity endorsement, these initiatives can get lost in the crowd.

The recent case of Tiger Woods is probably the best example of how quickly a celebrity endorsement can go wrong. Within weeks of revelations of his infidelity, management consultancy Accenture dropped the golf star from its campaigns. Gillette has also said it will not feature Woods in ads for a period of time.

Celebrities behaving badly is not the biggest problem for companies, though. Famous people endorsing multiple brands and thereby confusing shoppers is perhaps a more pressing issue. The MEC Medialab research finds that, when people are asked to name which brands the supermodel Kate Moss endorses, only Rimmel and Topshop receive decent unprompted recall responses, with 21% and 10% respectively within the UK. Other endorsements, such as Moss’ deal with Burberry, don’t get much of a mention.

So how should companies use famous folks better? The study suggests that using a celebrity with local relevance is particularly important. People like to see someone who reflects their own tastes and culture. The research also suggests that it is more effective to use celebrities in multiple forms of communications as part of a long-term partnership than as a short-term push in just one medium.

It appears that while celebrity marketing is by no means out of fashion, smart marketers will be using it more carefully in 2010. With fifty-two per cent of people saying that a celebrity adds to a brand’s personality, getting the right fit is vital. As there is every sign that The X Factor winner Joe McElderry will also have the Christmas number one single this year, it will be interesting to see which companies have signed him up by early 2010.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here