I’d appreciate your opinion on this Ogilvy advertising question

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I am reading, for the second time, Ogilvy on Advertising. Which, in my humble opinion, is the greatest book ever written on the subject.

Every time I read the book it gives me new ideas. And confirms my beliefs in some others areas where I’m constantly questioned.

Anyway, I have a question I’d like your opinion on. On page 109 Ogilvy talks about the problem with using celebrities in TV advertising; particularly for their ability to change people’s brand preference.

He gives these two reasons:

1, People forget the brand being advertised and remember the celebrity instead

2, People are cynical of the brand as they guess the celebrity has been paid – and they are right

But has this now changed since this book was first published in 1983? Does our fascination with all things celebrity mean using famous people in advertising increases brand preference – and ultimately sales?

Or do big brands, armed with even bigger budgets, not monitor brand preference or sales accurately enough to know?

I’d really like your comments and opinions on this subject.


2 thoughts on “I’d appreciate your opinion on this Ogilvy advertising question

    Richard Beevers said:
    November 4, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    I think the answer, as with many marketing questions, is ‘it depends’. If the celebrity endorsement is relevant to the product then, regardless of Ogilvy’s undoubted logic about the celebrity being paid to say the right thing, the endorsement is likely to work. For example Cheryl Cole and shampoo – she does have great hair! If the celebrity can be seen using the product in day-to-day life even better, e.g. Lionel Messi and Adidas, however there’s always the risk of drop in performance as with Rory McIlroy and Nike. The worst case is where a celebrity clearly knows nothing about the product such as Michael Parkinson advertising Sun Life insurance. Martin Lewis, a real financial expert, has blogged that Parky’s product is extremely poor value. So Roger Federer can influence my choice of serving product, but not my shaving product!

      westoncd1 responded:
      November 5, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      Thank you for your reply Richard. And as always a very well thought out one, too.

      I totally agree with you about the importance of relevance in all things marketing, which of course covers celebrity endorsements.

      And when brands get it right, like Adidas sponsoring Messi, Red Bull sponsoring Felix Baumgartner and Sainsbury’s sponsoring all thinks ‘Pukka’ through Jamie Oliver, everyone is a winner.

      I’ve never been involved in such high profile sponsorship but I guess that, on top of relevance, the trick is to make sure the celebrity your brand is associated with isn’t too likely to go off the rails.

      Or at least not too far off anyway, so your publicity gained isn’t outweighed by any damage caused. Remember how quickly Lance Armstrong’s throng of sponsors jumped ship through fear of being tarnished by association?

      I just did a quick Google search and found this great example of another celebrity endorsement gone bad.

      “In 2006, downhill skier Bode Miller made $4 million on ads and sponsorships by Visa and the pasta maker Barilla. Their choice in spokesman backfired when Miller did not win a single medal in the events he competed in, was constantly in the headlines for partying it up at the Olympics, and later revealed during a60 Minutes interview that he did some races WASTED.”

      I suppose the trick is to find a celebrity who is well liked and has the ability to engage people in your target market – whilst being able to play it safe enough not to cause the brand owner sleepless nights!

      Having said all that, I’m still leaning towards Ogilvy’s way of thinking on using celebrities. And I suspect that big brands armed with massive budgets don’t analyse as accurately as they should.

      I also wonder if ego plays a part? Maybe the marketing director who makes the decision wants the kudos of working with a star – or even meeting their idle!!

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