Corporate Eye

Research Shows Celebrities in Ads Don’t Make a Difference

Let me preface this this post by stating that I am not an advocate of paying celebrities large sums to appear in ads.  I’m not saying that it can’t be effective, but it’s very rare that a celebrity connection to a brand seems to deliver real results.  Of course, there are exceptions (e.g., Michael Jordan and Nike), but those are exactly that — exceptions, not the rule.

A new study by Ace Metrix reveals that celebrities in ads are not effective and are often a waste of money.  The chart below from the Ace Metrix report, Celebrity Endorsements: Exposing a Myth of Advertising Effectiveness, shows that celebrity ads more often brought a negative performance lift when compared to non-celebrity ads.

The report was based on a study of every nationally televised ad during the first 11 months of 2010 and included extensive efforts to present fair and balanced statistical analysis of the results.  The study found that regardless of age or gender, ads without celebrities performed better than ads with celebrities.

Most consumers cited reasons they found celebrity ads to be ineffective as: being confused by what product the celebrity was endorsing and simply not liking the celebrity in the ad.

Ace Metrix concludes from its findings that consumers today are not as easily influenced as they once were.  With quick access to massive amounts of information on the Internet, they want equally quick and instantly relevant messages in ads.  Celebrities affect them far less than relevant messages.

I agree with the Ace Metrix conclusions, and it’s nice to see some research support what many marketers, myself included, have believed for a long time — a celebrity might help raise awareness of an ad and get people talking about that ad or celebrity, but it doesn’t guarantee positive results for the brand, company, or product.  A celebrity can only help if the message is good, the celebrity is well-liked by the target audience, and the celebrity matches the brand, company, and product, he or she is endorsing.  Disparity in any of those areas equates to a waste of money.

What do you think?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts about celebrity endorsements and the value of paying celebrities to appear in ads.

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.