Celebrities in ads: Why do they do it?

Celebrities in ads: Why do they do it?

There’s been an intermittent trend over recent years to use Hollywood stars in ads for UK brands.

Why is this?

Does it help either party’s brand and boost sales? 

We all want to know about cold hard cash and the bottom line, right?

Apparently, Kevin Bacon has been the ‘face’ of EE for nearly a decade now. Wow, that sure has gone quick. When the American star who found fame in huge Hollywood films like Footloose and Apollo 13 popped up on our screens advertising a UK mobile network, it was a bit of a scratching head moment. 

Should we applaud EE for managing to get such a big star to advertise its network or should we stare at the screen and wonder why Kevin Bacon would do such a thing? 

Perhaps he was hard up for cash. UK-based mobile networks don’t appear to align with the Kevin Bacon brand.

To be fair, there was a theme that was relevant to Bacon in the ad and that was the concept of ‘six degrees of Kevin Bacon’ which showed how connected he was to people all around the world. Maybe as the ads were for the UK market it didn’t really affect his Hollywood career as the ads weren’t aired in the US. 

Nevertheless, we live in the day and age of the internet where almost anything is accessible at anytime and anywhere. Bacon has gone on to make several films and tv series' since taking on the advertising role, although none as big at the box office as some of his earlier work.

Since Kevin Bacon’s ad appearance, there have been several more huge US stars that have taken up the offer to star in UK ads. Robert de Niro has done a few, most recently the Kia ad for its Niro electric hybrid car.

Robert de Niro. Now that’s a name that definitely trumps Kevin Bacon’s in terms of Hollywood royalty.

So, what business does he have doing ads for the UK market? And which came first, him agreeing to do the ad, or the name of the car? The Kia brand is associated with value-for-money South Korean cars. The link to an A list Hollywood star is, well, answers on a postcard please.

I, for one, just don’t get it.

Don’t these actors care about their brand? How does teaming up with these products that have nothing to do with Hollywood, films, luxury lifestyle etc have any positive impact on their personal brand?

And Snoop Dogg and Just Eat.

Not only is that an advert with a really annoying jingle (but yes, I know it gets in your head so it achieves what it set out to do) but it must have cost them so much money to get Snoop Dogg. At least Just Eat tried to play on the theme of ‘luxury lifestyle’ in the execution I guess, but what did it do for Mr Dogg’s brand? I would argue nothing, but for Just Eat—a lot.

Warburtons and Hollywood.

At least George Clooney had the opportunity to front up Nespresso, a much more aspirational brand than most of the products his US colleagues chose to hook up with.

Which brings me onto that very British brand of bread products, Warburtons.

Warburtons, based in Bolton, birthplace to UK comedian legend Peter Kay, has form with using Hollywood stars in its ads. It’s not just used one of them, oh no—it’s used four different US celebs/group of celebs over the years as well as (perhaps more appropriately) Peter Kay. The Muppets, Robert de Niro, Sylvester Stallone and the latest star, George Clooney, have all headed up the ads.

Warburtons is about as down-to-earth-northern-England as it gets for a brand. So why do those who like their names in lights sign up to promote it?

How does bread say Hollywood star?

Again, I can only think for the celebrity that it’s a money, maybe a fun-to-do thing that is behind these questionable collaborations. It certainly doesn’t make me adhere more to the star, quite the opposite. I just find myself thinking, ‘eh?!’

Although I know for the latest Warburtons/George Clooney partnership the money he was paid went straight into the Clooney Foundation for Justice, which promotes human rights throughout the world.

And as I said earlier, ads being shown in the UK aren’t going to affect their credibility in the big movie houses, are they?

So, if the celebs’ brand doesn’t benefit from the UK ads, does the UK brand?

Yes, I would say—most of the time.

Seeing a well-known face associated with a product helps to push its credibility, although see above where some partnerships leave me with the ‘huh?’ feeling.

In terms of sales, getting attention with the famous names undoubtedly helps put the product brand at the forefront of people’s minds which in turn should help the tills ring. According to Harvard Business School, celebrity endorsement can increase sales by 4% compared to competitors who don’t have the endorsement.

Whatever the reasons for the famous faces and the UK brands to cosy up, celebrity endorsement and influencer marketing overall is certainly not a recent thing and it seems like it’s something that will be a key advertising tool for many more years to come.

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