Kim Kardashian and ABC Television: it’s not very often you would imagine seeing the two together in the same sentence. Last week, however, Jonathan Holmes and Media Watch decided it was time to acquaint the two. The topic of discussion: Kardashian’s commitment to the Quick Trim detox that joins the long list of products she endorses. A rider sent out to journalists prior to her arrival in Australia informed all media that Kardashian would only take questions relating to Quick Trim, but when Age journalist Karl Quinn asked about the class action that was filed in the Southern District of New York in March, alleging the product does not work and in fact isn’t even used by her, she wasn’t so keen to talk.
This sets the scene nicely for a little discussion about celebrity endorsements.
Celebrities have a proven positive impact on brand awareness. Some may even say celebrities have the ability to turn consumer wants into consumer needs. Celebrities and sports figures ooze with assets that marketing strategists can’t get enough of: trust, admiration, capability and credibility. A transfer of these assets from celebrity to product is a fast way of increasing the awareness and respect of a brand. For example, young teen girls are a tough demographic to market to. Only “it” products catch on and the rest flounder. So how do you make your face cleanser the “it” cleanser? Easy, sign Justin Bieber up as a brand ambassador.
So, if you take Swisse vitamins, will you perform at a similar standard to our Olympic athletes, considering Swisse was the official vitamin of the Australian Olympic team? And if Giaan Rooney endorses your pet food, does it mean your pooch will inherit some of her Olympic paddling prowess? Probably not.
Next week, Red Bull is footing the bill for Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner to jump out of a capsule 37km above the earth in an attempt to break the speed of sound during free fall. One thing is for sure: the bill will be grande. Why invest? Aside from giving the "Red Bull gives you wings" slogan a whole new level of meaning, media outlets will gladly pick up the event – aptly named the Red Bull Stratos mission – and relay the brand name around the world. To support the coverage they are indirectly paying for, Red Bull have launched a website with live countdown, a blog, social media accounts and even merchandise.
While all is usually well and good with celebrity endorsements, the problem for unsuspecting consumers arises when the products don’t match up to their advertised claims. Dawn Fraser tells consumers she “hasn’t looked back” since using the Circulation Booster to aid aches, pains and swelling in her legs and feet. The Therapeutic Goods Administration Complains Resolution Panel didn’t agree; in August last year they found the product’s bold advertising claims were inaccurate. Just one month later, the panel found the owners of Invisible Zinc, endorsed by bikini clad Elle McPherson, were also out of line with their claims.
So, my one word of advice is to shop with your brain, not your desires. Eating the same vitamins, using the same sunscreen or feeding your pet the same pet food as these so called “celebrities” won’t necessarily have long lasting benefits for you. Remember – in most cases, it is likely their ‘testimonials’ have come only as a result of a healthy injection of cash into their bank account.