Stand by your man?

If we are still living in a world obsessed by the cult of celebrity then one of the biggest marketing and advertising malpractices of modern times has got to be the celebrity endorsement.

From films stars flogging hair care products to Mr T advertising pressure cookers it would seem that anything can be sold through a celeb and indeed that celebrities are willing to put their name to anything.

Yet it’s not all about such blatant and insincere advertising. Celebrity sponsorship programmes, particularly in sport, can provide a more subtle form of publicity and marketing and have the ability to showcase a brand to millions of people.

The cycling world is a fine example of where these practices have been both positive and negative. Both Jaguar and Sky have done well to associate themselves with British cycling at a time when its stars are celebrating victories and applauded by both the public and press.

However the recent allegations that Lance Armstrong regularly took performance enhancing drugs which helped him to seven Tour de France victories have forced Nike, as well as cycle maker Trek and Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch, to cut their ties with the one-time great of international cycling.

Nike’s marketing men clearly identified Armstrong’s determination, strength and spirit with the company’s ‘Just Do It’ slogan. Little did they know that Lance’s interpretation of this uplifting tagline was to fiddle around with steroids. His association with Nike would continue to cement an image of the brand, and those who choose its products, as successful winners.

The problem now is that whole image has been broken and Nike have been forced into an embarrassing retreat. Let’s be honest, they had no other option. How could they have remained with a star whose career and legacy is now in

The whole sorry business raises some important issues for both businesses and PR and marketing professionals about the perils of working with celebrities, namely that they should choose wisely who they work with and who they choose to represent their brand.

Make sure the person has relevance to your target audience, market or industry. Don’t overestimate the power of celebrity and think it’s a sure fire route to increased sales and success. And most importantly remember that as much as celebs can shed a positive image on your brand it can quickly turn sour.

If you need some PR and marketing advice contact us on 01926 333245, email us or send us a tweet @RedMarlinUK


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