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Does your branding have the X factor?

Does your branding have the X factor?

I was watching Miley Cyrus on The X Factor (do you say it the way I do in *that* announcer voice? The X Fac-tor!?) and I was wondering how someone with so little talent can actually make it to my TV screen at peak viewing time on one of the most popular TV shows currently around on a Sunday evening. She even made Sam Callaghan look like he was talented. No – seriously he wasn’t. Thank heavens Miley was a) covered up b) didn’t have her oddly coated tongue on display and c) was not ‘twerking’.

Twerk it baby!

Twerk it baby!

And then I remembered that we have this item for sale on the website Joblot of Miley Skull and Crossbone Rings and Hairslides. It made me wonder about celebrity endorsement.

Celebrities endorse everything these days. Any celebrity with hair can make a shampoo advert it seems (Joe Hart), and even better if they have hair extensions too (Cheryl Cole, Paris Hilton). Then we see sports stars in Nike adverts but also in Building Society and Banking adverts (Jensen Button, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Rory McIlroy). Ant and Dec appear for Morrison’s supermarket, Jayne Torvill for Cal-in+, Davina McCoy for Garnier, the completely scrumptious Charlize Theron for Dior, Keira Knightly for Chanel Madamoiselle. The list goes on and on and the more expensive and more high quality a product desires itself to appear, the more likely it is that a Hollywood big name or a world ranking superstar sports personality will appear. According to research 20% of all products are advertised using celebrity endorsement.

Lohan: for child stars everywhere

Lohan: for child stars everywhere

So why is celebrity endorsement so popular? The basic idea is simple. These days we live in a world that adores celebrities whether they warrant it or not (I’ve never seen Joey on TOWIE for example but because of I’m a Celebrity I now know who he is …) If the celebrities that we love say that they like a product, then apparently we’re quite likely to love the product too.

Does it work? Do we become cool and desirable just because we buy into the celebrity promise that we will? Do celebrities transfer their popularity from themselves to the products that they endorse? Can cool even be caught?

The cost to companies of celebrity endorsement is enormous. Nike alone spend approximately half a billion dollars per year on celebrity endorsements, but guess that’s why they get the calibre of sports people they do – Roger Federer for example. But in spite of this, studies suggest that stock prices only rise marginally after a campaign and sales see an improvement of 4%. The longer the same celebrity endorses a product, the less return a company might see for its money.

Diaz: There's something about that girl!

Diaz: There’s something about that girl!

This suggests that we as consumers are driven by the latest fashions and fads, and of course the most current celebrities are the real draw. My guess is that One Direction for example would have a greater pull than Boyzone at the moment, and yet in their time, Boyzone were huge.

The bigger and better and more current the celebrity endorsing a product is, the more the product signals that it has’quality’ and ‘must haveness’. But today, five years or so into the recession, we are wily buyers. We have grown cynical and we recognise that celebrities are paid big bucks to endorse products whether they like them or not.

We still buy them though so why is that? Well it could simply be that we like to be connected in some way to people who are wealthier, more powerful and more famous than we are. Every now and again auctions are half for memorabilia and items fetch exorbitant amounts of money.

Geri- contagious.

Geri- contagious.

Another research study talks about the ‘contagion factor’. People want to buy something associated with someone famous because they have some innate belief (hidden deep in the sub conscience) that the essence of that person will rub off on them. So we queue up to buy Elizabeth Taylor’s diamonds, or John Lennon’s lyrics, or Geri Halliwell’s union jack frock. On the other hand we’re less likely to want Saddam Hussein’s Rolex or a sweater worn by Hitler, for example. We don’t want that sort of contagion at all – we don’t want connotations of evil. We want glitter and glitz and sex appeal and being British we quite like to be funny too.

So what does that mean for you as the owner of a small business?

• Remember that celebrity sells
• Try and link some of your products to celebrities directly or indirectly (Women’s magazines and newspapers are great at this, e.g. Kate Middleton was seen wearing this from *insert name of expensive designer* but here’s a version from Top Shop, and one from River Island and one from George at Asda).
• If you do sell celebrity endorsed products make sure they are current or popular from a retro point of view
• Try and tie your products in to current or forthcoming crazes – Dr Who is 50 this month for example, so everything Dr Who related is hot. A new Star Wars movie is in the offing…. Think ahead.
• Name things using celebrity names. Besides Miley Cyrus for example, we have Hepburn, Nicola, Avril, Lohan, Harding and Diaz!

That’s quite a lot of name dropping isn’t it? Do you think any of these people would endorse Wholesale Clearance UK? If you could get one celebrity to endorse your business, who would it be and why? Let us know below! 🙂

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