Why would you subscribe to T-Mobile because Catherine Zeta-Jones recommends it? Don’t fall for the celebrity effect

On a recent visit to Israel, our group visited the Qumran Caves in the Judaean Desert, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947. It’s a fascinating story. 

There’s a nice, modern visitor’s center on site. On my way to the bathroom I had to walk through the gift shop. (I deplore tourist gift shops; bladder control is one of the only reasons I enter.) I glanced down at one of the advertising displays and saw this picture of Mariah Carey. I was amused, surprised, and reminded once again of the idiocy of being influenced by the celebrity effect. 

Mariah has been hired as a spokesperson for Premier Cosmetics Laboratories, an Israeli cosmetics and skincare company that manufactures its products using mineral components extracted from the Dead Sea. I smiled at the tagline “I call the shots and I think I know the best.” (See this webpage for more information on this debacle.)

It’s sad that our culture is so infatuated with famous people that we succumb to advertising campaigns that exploit our naivety. I sort of understand the connection between Michael Jordon and Nike shoes, but when Roger Federer poses as a coffee machine expert and Jennifer Aniston promotes Smartwater, we should recognize the disconnect. 

The celebrity effect is the ability of famous people to influence others. Companies use that star power and influence to boost their own products and services. 

No doubt, it works. When Chanel signed Nicole Kidman in 2003, global sales of the perfume they promoted increased 30%. When Nike and Tiger Woods inked an endorsement deal in 2000, Nike’s market share went from 0.9% to 4% in six months.

The celebrity effect is used in about 14-19% of advertisements aired in the U.S. 

Let’s resist.

18 Replies to “Why would you subscribe to T-Mobile because Catherine Zeta-Jones recommends it? Don’t fall for the celebrity effect”

  1. So true, isn’t it, Don? Sometimes I think artists and celebrities get bored with their craft and try to branch out their influence in ways they have nothing to do with what made them famous. By the way, this celebrity effect is in full force in ministry as well.

    1. I’ve not thought of that…that famous people may get bored with their “world” so they try to influence other areas. And, yes, the celebrity affect is in the ministry world, also. Take care.

  2. I had no idea that celebrity ads were so powerful; suppose I never paid attention. Gee, will we see celebs promoting their presidential candidate?

    1. Hi Joyce, we probably will see celebrity’s trying to influence elections. On the one hand, they have their opinion, but I think their opinion is not any better than the “average” person. Thanks for responding.

  3. Hi, Don,, —I totally agree, — almost.
    Celebrity? Not an influence, nor was it in my youth. However, many commendable efforts have also brought the light of Hope into some very dark areas. I am grateful for the celebrity, the time, effort and love given by Audrey Hepburn – Jerry Lewis- Mother Teresa – Princess Diana and others in helping bring attention to the needs of the afflicted and the poor. – A good feeling? Expand this list. 🙂

    1. Karen, you bring up a great point…when celebrities use their influence for good, not just to sell a product. Thanks for seeing that facet of the conversation. Don

  4. Amen brother…it seems like the masses are becoming more “ simple minded” with every new class of graduates, not only from our “politically correct” public school’s…but even worse, our “so called” institutes of higher learning! There is very little “common sense” or “critical thinking” among us these day’s and a lot more “group think”, “mob mentality” and “ anarchy “. This produces a vast pool of consumers who are not only easily manipulated to buy “stuff” but sadly they will buy the lie that leads to eternal separation from God too!
    Looking more and more like Jesus is coming soon!
    Yours in Christ!

    1. Thanks, Steve, for sharing your thoughts. We live in an age of misinformation, which makes everything more complicated.
      Are you the Steve Watkins that was my friend in Austin years ago?

  5. The Chanel campaign really intrigues me. Having worked in a store selling perfume, the most expensive sales were from men buying perfume for their wives or girlfriends. Perhaps they think that the perfume will make their wife or girlfriend more like Nicole Kidman? I believe men are more visually stimulated so pictures of Nicole would attract their attention. If the celebrity attraction didn’t work marketeers wouldn’t use it.

    1. Are you suggesting that a certain perfume will not make my wife like Nicole Kidman? Do you have evidence to support that? 🙂
      Thanks, Angela for responding. I always find your comments enlightening.

  6. Don,
    A very interesting and powerful phenomenon…and as you point out, it works as a marketing tool. But I draw a distinction. If Warren Buffett promotes a book on investment, I will pay more attention than if he promotes a book on cooking. But maybe that’s not “celebrity effect”. As a business owner I am looking to grab your attention. The celebrity does that. Thereafter, you may buy my product either because (a) the celebrity says it’s good (celebrity effect), or (b) because you checked it out after I got your attention.

    Great subject, Don…you grabbed my attention :-).

    1. Thank, Neil, for sharing your thoughts. You’re right, in this media age it’s getting more difficult to get people’s attention. I think the best way to grow an organization is through word of mouth from satisfied customers, but perhaps it takes more than that. I’m in full agreement: if an expert in the field endorses something, I’ll listen.
      What business are you in?

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