Blogging Out Loud

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Back Talk: Do Celeb Endorsements Still Have Clout?

In 2010, a Deloitte study showed a whopping 82 percent of consumers say their purchasing decisions are “directly influenced” by peer reviews. In an era when marketers are forced to question the cost and value of celebrity endorsements, that’s a powerful number. Celebs ranging from Dan Marino (NutriSystem) and Tiger Woods (American Express, Gatorade, Nike, and more) to Jennifer Hudson (Weight Watchers) and Catherine Zeta-Jones (T-Mobile) have boosted brands with their star power. Yet, more and more, consumers are turning to less-famous faces for facts about brands and their products. The same Deloitte study showed that not only do consumers believe what they read online, they’re eager to share their opinions; 69 percent of those who read reviews share them online with family, friends or colleagues. Enter Klout, a social media analytics company that measures a consumer’s online influence based on data hulled from Facebook, Twitter and the likes. In less than three years, Klout has established more than 100 million profiles. Earlier this month, it announced it serves roughly 1 billion API calls — or third-party data requests — per day, 80 times the amount served in the same period in 2011. While there’s no doubt that celebrities — especially certain celebrities — can influence consumers, for marketers, Klout is a not-so-subtle reminder that the everyman carries, well, plenty of clout. By tracking data like how often one’s links are liked and shared or one’s tweets retweeted, Klout assigns scores ranging from 0 to 100 in terms of Internet influence. Companies like Red Bull have taken notice and are making use of the site’s version of brand pages, called Brand Squads, through which brands can offer influential Klout users perks, or gifts. Influencers who receive perks create an average of 30 pieces of content for said brand. Incidentally, only one person can boast a perfect Klout score of 100: Justin Bieber.

Maybe I’m just blogging out loud, but it seems like — Bieber aside — celebrity endorsements aren’t what they used to be. In the Age of Klout, marketers can — and should — identify who can help build their brands best.

Which prompts the question: In your mind, do celebrity endorsements still carry weight? Would you abandon them altogether for this new alternative?

Please leave a comment in the section below, or join the conversation on Vertical Marketing Network’s Facebook page.

Note: Blogging Out Loud will return on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Happy Memorial Day.

Brought to you by Vertical Marketing Network, a Leading Integrated Marketing Agency.

About JJ Nelson

Freelance blogger for Vertical Marketing Network; food writer; bartender.

12 comments on “Back Talk: Do Celeb Endorsements Still Have Clout?

  1. Joanne
    June 4, 2012

    It used to be celebreties carried a lot of weight in endorsing products. One wanted to be associated with a product because of the celebrity. But with a number of them being in the media (unfavorably) over the last couple of years, they are not as believable as they use to be. Although it is interesting to watch who is endorsing which products, we must realize that they are being paid. I don’t purchase because a celebrity is touting a specific product. I research my purchase and talk to my friends.


  2. Philip
    May 31, 2012

    A case can be made for an area between Celebrities and Peer Groups. Here’s a case in point:

    Superhero pictures promote healthy eating in children-
    Per the WSJ article, 45% of children ages 6 to 12 chose apple fries over french fries after seeing pictures of superheroes, compared with 9% of those who were not presented with superhero prompts, researchers at Cornell University found. Children who opted for apple fries consumed 34 calories, compared with 227 calories for children who had french fries, according to the study in Pediatric Obesity.


  3. Jeff
    May 24, 2012

    To Addie’s point. Now that Facebook has gone public, there will be new pressure to extract revenue from their vast commercial user base. I predict it is only a matter of time before they start charging a fee for commercial pages. It has become a vast and powerful medium for reaching a very qualified and interested audience and I am fairly certain businesses will not kill their pages if Facebook starts charging a fee based on the number of fans or some other similar matrix to base a fee on. This would be far more integrated than adding paid ad on the sidebars which are not working well on mobile devices.

    Just remember where you heard it first!!


    • JJ Nelson
      May 24, 2012

      Noted, Jeff. Thanks for contributing.


  4. Craig Shim
    May 23, 2012

    I presume Deloitte’s study was for the North American market? I’d be interested to know if anyone has insights into another major market – China. The influence of celebrities there seems to be much higher than in North America, however it would be interesting to see if celebs or peer reviews have the upper hand in that market.


    • JJ Nelson
      May 24, 2012

      Great question, Craig. Let us know if you find anything.


  5. BeezeyD (@BeezeyD)
    May 22, 2012

    I can honestly say I’ve never purchased anything because of a celebrity endorsement. I have, however, purchased things because family, friends or colleagues told me and I was looking and/or in the market for whatever it was. It is entertaining though, to see a celebrity endorse something. These days it’s all about reality…whether is scripted reality or not and people know that celebrity’s are paid big bucks for that product. So, with that said, I don’t think a PAID celebrity endorsement matters much anymore. What does matter is what celebrity was wearing what dress or using what purse when they were caught at a local Starbucks or wherever … if it’s cute/good/stylish, it’ll go to old fashioned print (InStyle, US Weekly) and be on Extra or E Television and they’ll let people know who/what and where to purchase it …. and all that essentially for free (unless there’s some back door PR in that realm that I don’t know about yet)…… Great post!


    • JJ Nelson
      May 24, 2012

      Thanks for the feedback!


  6. Addie Van Gessel
    May 22, 2012

    So interesting, isn’t it? The question about Celebrity (or any) endorsements seems to me is still about relevance. Oprah can still move the needle, but she is speaking directly to her core audience, the “every woman”. Reviews from like shoppers hold more weight these days because we now have access to them. Word of mouth on a much larger scale.

    To Jeff’s point, GM is no longer paying for ads on Facebook, because they finally realized their customers are not there. One is not going to sell a $30K+ item off a Facebook ad. They are keeping their pages because they will generate interest from folks chatting about a recent test drive. It is becoming clearer to me that social media sites may not be about the “money” and but how to understand the ever changing consumer mind-set.


  7. Jeff
    May 22, 2012

    Just exactly what is Bieber and how is this Bieber klout score of 100 influencing consumer behavior? Seriously, how does this kid tweeting about his favorite razor (does he shave?) move the dial on customer behavior in any meaningful way? A far more significant event on the social media scene in my opinion was the decision by GM to pull all of their advertising from Facebook because they were seeing no measurable return- a mere 5 days before Facebook went public. Coincidence? Me thinks not!

    Unless the major players in social media can figure out a way to significantly monetize the mountain of activity that takes place on their sites and turn it into revenue I have a hard time seeing how they are going to sustain their business model. Why pay for the cow when you can get the milk for free?


  8. Philip
    May 22, 2012

    I believe the glory days of celebrity endorsements fueling purchases have greatly diminished. Yeah, a basketball star might spur sales of a new urban sneaker and a Dan Marino might make it acceptable for an adult male to consider signing up for weigh loss services versus going it alone. But those examples are now outside the norm. Peer reviews and friends opinions are really what matter the most in 2012.


  9. Diane
    May 22, 2012

    This got me to sit down and ponder if I’ve purchased anything in the last 12 months because of a celebrity endorsement – and I would have to say no. I do read reviews on big purchases – and that does carry weight in my decision.


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