Commentary

Endorsements Are A Mixed Bag

According to the findings of a new Adweek Media/ Harris Poll, looking at celebrities and their persuasiveness, 21% of Americans say they find athletes to be most persuasive when they endorse a product, followed by 18% who say television or movie stars are most persuasive, 14% who say singers or musicians and 10% who say former political figures are most persuasive. On the other hand, speaking of celebrities ranking in the category of least persuasive, 23% of the survey respondents say television or movie stars are least persuasive, while 14% say business leaders are least persuasive. 13% of Americans say when athletes endorse a product they find them least persuasive and 11% say singers or musicians are least persuasive.

When it comes to helping sell, 37% of U.S. adults find business leaders to be most persuasive when they endorse a product in an ad. On the other side of the situation, 39% of  Americans say they find former political figures to be least persuasive when they endorse a product in an advertisement.

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The poll also found that the age of respondents played a factor in how persuasive they found  different types of product hawkers. Almost half of those ages 55+ (46%) say business leaders are most persuasive, compared with only 28% of those who are 18-34 years old.

Certain celebrities are seen as more persuasive from the eyes of different age groups. Almost half of those who are aged 55 and older say business leaders are most persuasive compared to only 28% of those who are 18-34 years old. One quarter of those aged 18-34 say television or movie stars are most persuasive while only of those aged 55 and older feel the same way.

Celebrity Endorsements That Are Most Persuasive  (% of U.S. Adults by Age Segment)

 

Age

Celebrity

Total

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

Business leaders

37%

28%

33%

38%

46%

Athletes

21

24

21

20

19

Television or movie stars

18

23

21

15

15

Singers or musicians

14

13

15

17

12

Former political figures

10

13

9

9

8

Source: HarrisInteractive, November 2009

There is also a difference among those who are seen as least persuasive. Almost half of those ages 35-44 think former political figures are least persuasive when they endorse a product, compared with one-third of those ages 18-34.

Celebrity Endorsements That Are Least Persuasive (% of U.S. Adults by Age Segment)

 

Age

Celebrity

Total

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

Former political figures

39%

33%

45%

39%

42%

Television or movie stars

23

20

19

24

26

Business leaders

14

21

12

12

10

Athletes

13

12

14

11

14

Singers or musicians

11

14

10

14

9

Source: HarrisInteractive, November 2009

Despite the findings from this poll about the relative persuasiveness of various types of celebrities, an earlier study of LinkedIn users by AdWeekMedia said that nearly 8 in 10 respondents said the presence of a celebrity in an ad doesn't sway them one way or the other. Only 8% said the presence of a celebrity spokesperson made them more likely to buy a product, compared with a  significant 12% who actually said it made them less likely to buy a product.

Go figure!

For more information, please visit HarrisInteractive here.

4 comments about "Endorsements Are A Mixed Bag".
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  1. Ian Straus from VIA Metropolitan Transit, November 17, 2009 at 9:36 a.m.

    Celebrity endorsements appears to me to be one of many areas where people are not good reporters of their own motivations. Just as unbelievably many people say advertising doesn't affect THEIR purchases, the topic of endorsements encourages over-reporting of rationality.

    And "most persuasive" is not a gauge of the extent of persuasiveness, even though the answers are turned into a ranking. For all you know the people who answer "business leaders" would add "but still not very persuasive" if they were given a follow up question to elicit such a reaponse.

    If the goal is to evaluate the effectiveness of endorsements then simply asking this particular question does not strike me as an appropriate approach.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, November 17, 2009 at 10 a.m.

    Try this one again with the phrase Paid Very Well Endorsements and see what the responses are. Celebs of all persuasions get paid very well for charitable appearances and endorsements, too.

  3. Kern Lewis from GrowthFocus, Inc., November 17, 2009 at 11:56 a.m.

    We must also remember that celebrities get attention, and that could all by itself earn the product/service a bump in awareness. In which case the money may be well spent even without a big boost in trust. This was not measured in this survey.

  4. Dave Young, November 18, 2009 at 9:46 a.m.

    Without access to the actual questions, it's virtually impossible to tell if this is even worth reading.

    The issue is not what people "think" is persuasive. The issue is whether or not these endorsements actually move the needle in product sales.

    This is great fodder for business leaders with agents.

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