All that money being spent on hiring celebrities to appear in advertising may be better spent crafting a cohesive brand story.
According to a study from Ace Metrix, television ads featuring celebrities do not perform as well as those that don’t feature celebrities. The analytics company evaluated more than 1,200 ads featuring celebrities, using a statistical evaluation method to determine effectiveness. In aggregate, ads featuring celebrities had lower average Ace scores than those without celebrities (514 vs. 527).
“It’s pretty consistent with what we’ve found before,” Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix, tells Marketing Daily. “They’re not particularly effective, so you wonder if it’s worth the money.”
However, there are some instances where using a celebrity is more effective than others, Daboll notes. In general, ads that employ celebrities with a strong connection to the brand or provide a service to the brand story do better than simple product endorsements, he says. Some of the ads that scored well were JCPenney’s ads featuring Ellen DeGeneres, EA Video Games’ commercials featuring Ray Lewis and Paul Rudd and Allstate’s ads in which actor Dean Winters plays a character called, “Mayhem.”
“Typically, what we’ve found is if the celebrity is part of the story, and the story is interesting, they do better,” Daboll says. “It really is about, ‘Is the ad interesting or relevant?’ Those are the [effective] elements, and you don’t really need a celebrity to make that work for you.”
Even in cases like the Super Bowl, where celebrity endorsers are heavily featured in an effort to stand out, their effectiveness is not particularly notable, Daboll says.
“The top-performing ads in the Super Bowl were the Microsoft ad [which featured only a former NFL player who has ALS] and the Clydesdale commercial,” he says. “I don’t think it’s necessary to have a celebrity.”
The upshot, he says, is that brands considering using celebrities in their advertise still need consistent brand stories, Daboll says. “Celebrities are often polarizing,” he says. “Just because you’ve done it in the past doesn’t mean it’s right.”