So Charlize Theron is getting sued for not wearing her Raymond Weil watches. The lawsuit is worth $20 million.
What I don’t get, is why people still buy into celebrity-endorsements. Raymond Weil PAID Theron to wear their merchandise. Let me say that again: they paid her. She didn’t buy the watch. She didn’t spend money on it. They gave it to her – along with a fat cheque – to walk around on the red-carpet wearing the watch. So she’s hardly likely to say anything negative about the brand. It’s the live-equivalent of a 30-second commercial.
Would you buy hair-colour from an actress or a model? Would you buy health insurance from a rugby player or a soap-star? Do any of these people even use the products they’re endorsing, let alone pay for them?
Where am I going with this?
I believe that contemporary endorsements (endorsements by every-day people) are even more powerful than celebrity endorsements. Basically because paid-for celebrity endorsements just aren’t believable.
Let’s use another example with Charlize Theron. Currently, she’s the star of Sun City’s latest above-the-line campaign: a sumptuously-shot, movie-trailer-esque commercial. Now when Charlize stays at Sun City, I’ll bet her experience is vastly different to mine (I’m hardly likely to host a photoshoot in the lobby or arrive on chauffeured Bayliner). So believing that Sun City is all that because Charlize says so? Not buying it. But if a buddy of mine stays at Sun City and he tells me it sucked/rocked/whatever I’ll believe him. In fact, I’ll even believe a complete stranger over a celebrity anyday. Why? Because these people aren’t being paid to talk up the brand. They’re believable.
In fact, in a recent Harvard Business Review Ideacast, Scott Cook (the Cofounder & Chairman of the Executive Committee, Intuit) revealed that in a survey of Amazon.com customers, it was discovered that the 95% of purchase-decisions were based on reviews by fellow Amazon customers. Check out the podcast on iTunes – very interesting stuff on user-contributed content and contemporary endorsements. It’s episode #113.
And while Playstation and other similar games-makers make use of celebrity endorsements to great effect, (like the Tiger Woods PGA Golf series) the consumer’s purchase decision is (more often than not) based on a contemporary endorsement by folks who’ve played the game.
PS – just so you know I’m not hating on celebs, here’s the killer celebrity-endorsement: if I had seen Charlize Theron in a jewellery store forking over some over her own cash for a Raymond Weil watch, I might be curious enough to at least check out the watches – if not buy one. And that’s the only way a celebrity endorsement can work.