Actress Jennifer Aniston has done it, so too has Tiger Woods and Aishwarya Rai.
Every day, well-know faces adorn magazine advertisements and television commercials promoting a product – whether it is Elizabeth Hurley with Estée Lauder, Tamer Hosni and Coca-Cola or David Beckham and Gillette… Police sunglasses… Pepsi etc, the list goes on.
It costs companies vast amounts of money to entice a celebrity to plug their products, but companies are willing to dig deep rather than use an unknown face.
This is for the simple fact that consumers are more likely to buy a product used by one of their idols, thus turning a bit of corporate clout and a little advertising savvy into that all-important profit.
British chef Jamie Oliver’s association with Sainbury’s supermarket highlighted just how beneficial celebrity can be.
The group spent £41 million (Dh295.2m) on an advertising campaign with the young chef as the star, but raked in more than £1.12 billion in extra sales – proving the power of celebrity.
Not a new phenomenon Using celebrities to sell products is not a new phenomenon.
Coca-Cola enlisted singer and actress Hilda Clark in a campaign in 1899, just before opera star Lillian Nordica put her face to the brand.
But it was not for a few more decades that the concept of celebrity endorsements really took off.
Screen sirens of the 1940s and 1950s, such as Rita Hayworth and Deborah Kerr, lent their celebrity status to Max Factor beauty products.
And with the growth of the cult of celebrity and the hysteria surrounding it, there has been an increasing trend to employ the latest stars as the face of a company.
In the Middle East the trend is growing, with Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram, the current face of Damas jewellery and Tamer Hosni fronting Coca-Cola’s campaign.
While they might not have worldwide appeal, they are huge in the regional market and thus bring more recognition to their respective brands.
High-end beauty brands, such as Chanel, Estée Lauder and Dior, have been using well-known women for years, but over the past 20 years there has been a change in the choices made.
Companies still look for iconic figures, but they also want to use people that the shopping public can relate to.
Jennifer Aniston, hot on the heels of her success in sitcom Friends, appeared in an advert for L’Oréal Elvive shampoo.
The company’s decision was clearly to use an A-list star who, despite having the world at her feet, still had that girl-next-door charm and accessibility.
Here was a woman admired by both men and women for her looks – she was at the cutting edge of style as was proved with the millions of women who copied her famous haircut.
Many celebrities, including singer Beyoncé Knowles, actress Scarlett Johannsen and Desperate Housewife’s Eva Longoria, then followed in her footsteps advertising L’Oréal’s hair and skincare ranges, each championing the famous “Because I’m worth it” catchphrase that no doubt encouraged more women to buy the products.
The French firm, which is one of the biggest cosmetic brands in the world, is so popular it achieved sales of €17.1bn ($25bn) last year – eight per cent up on 2006.
“The L’Oréal Paris beauty ambassadors are a highly diverse group of truly beautiful individuals, in which each and every woman can find inspiration and belief in her own beauty,” says a company spokesperson.
“‘L’Oréal. Because I’m worth it’ is a message that valorises women across the globe, thanks to the ease with which they can identify with it, the conviction it expresses and its unifying capacity.”
While some faces will come and go from adverts, others appear time and time again.
Take David Beckham, who just like Aniston is seen as having the boy-next-door charm.
He is also a classic example of someone who went from humble beginnings to become one of the most recognisable faces on the planet.
He was someone a lot of consumers could relate to in terms of working hard to achieve a dream, and as such became a popular figure in advertising campaigns.
Dr Melodena Stephens Balakrishnan, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Wollongong in Dubai, said much of Beckham’s success was due to being at the top of his game at the right time – but luck played a part.
“There are others who are better players and better looking than Beckham, but he started his career at the right time and has star status,” she said.
But choosing the celebrity who will fit best with your brand is a very calculated concept.
Simon Raffaghello, an advertising creative copywriter, says it all comes down to which celebrity best fits the image of the brand.
“A long time is spent choosing the face of a product so they typify the brand promise.
So Adidas used David Beckham, for example, because he had a tough upbringing financially but still made it, and by buying Adidas it will help to make you invincible,” he adds.
Beckham might be the most recognisable face on the sports field, but he is not the top earner.
That accolade goes to Tiger Woods, who has stockpiled $265m over the past seven years in endorsement deals alone.
Contracts with Tag Heuer, Gillette, Buick and Gatorade have all helped build Woods’ bank balance, not to mention the $105m Nike paid him for a five-year deal in 2000, which was the highest amount ever paid to a sportsman at the time.
Film stars are a big draw A-list movie stars are a particularly big draw, according to Raffaghello, and if the money is right, a number of them can be persuaded to appear in an advert.
Chanel was so keen for Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman to appear in its campaign for Chanel No5 they paid her a record-breaking $4m for the two-and-a-half minute feature.
“You are more likely to sell something if an A-lister who is known by half the world is advertising it,” said Raffaghello.
This principle can be used across the board and is the reason luxury watchmaker Omega is enjoying a long relationship with James Bond.
Both Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig have posed with an Omega watch on their wrist and the association has even gone as far as having Omega watches in the films themselves to further emphasise their style and durability.
“James Bond is one of the truly iconic figures in the history of cinema.
He represents the ultimate marriage of style and technology.
“People will argue forever about who the ‘best Bond’ is but there is never any argument about what the British agent James Bond stands for: adventure, glamour, style, romance, and the world’s greatest technology – all of which apply perfectly to Omega,” says a spokesman for the watch brand.
These days it is impossible to open a magazine and not see a celebrity smiling back at you in an advert.
Beckham is a perfect example of this because of the countless products he has endorsed, including Police sunglasses, Gillette and Pepsi, not to mention his and wife Victoria’s own Intimately Beckham fragrances. So has it become a case of over-branding?
For Raffaghello it is a question of product placement.
He said even though Europe might be tired of seeing the LA Galaxy star, those in the Far East cannot get enough of him thus it is still worthwhile for companies to use him, but Balakrishnan believes it can be detrimental to the product.
“There is a disadvantage with Beckham because he endorses so many products you don’t know what they are.
Brands pay him a lot of money but the consumer ends up having an association with him and not the product,” she said.
Using a celebrity is a tried and tested formula and one that has proved itself to work.
And with Coca-Cola last week naming Tamer Hosni as its new face in the Middle East, the trend shows no sign of dwindling any time soon.
You don’t get much bigger than Coca-Cola and if it believes the best way to maximise profits is to use a celebrity, perhaps Kidman’s record-breaking payday was worth the outlay after all.
Celebrity Endorsements 1Tiger Woods + Nike + Buick + Gillette + Gatorade + Tag Heuer=$265m.
The golf star has signed a number of deals over the years. While the amount paid by Tag and Gillette has never been disclosed there have been estimates that put Woods’ endorsement deals close to $265m since 2000.
2Catherine Zeta-Jones + T-Mobile = $20m
The Oscar winner had a two-year deal with T-Mobile to appear in print and TV ads.
3Angelina Jolie + St John = $12m The actress and United
Nations Goodwill Ambassador was paid $12m and received a percentage of the company’s profits for part of her three-year deal with St John.
4Nicole Kidman + Chanel No 5 = $4m Australian star Kidman had a three-year deal to advertise Chanel No5 for which the Oscar winner was paid in the region of $4m.
5Gwyneth Paltrow + Estée Lauder=$3m annually Paltrow appears in both print and TV adverts for Estée Lauder’s fragrances and make-up collections.
(Source: Adweek/CBS News)
Just look what a little star power can do