The changing face of celebrity endorsements: Are they still worthwhile?


When scrolling through our Instagram feed, there seems to be a constant deluge of celebrity posts with #ad and #spon hashtags, promoting products left, right and centre that often bear no relation to the personality that is promoting them.


Whether it be a reality star advertising a teeth whitening kit or a radio star promoting their new sofa, it’s evident that celebrity endorsement is a massively employed tactic used to gain traction, engagement and popularity on social media, with the overall aim of increasing sales.


But just how successful is celebrity endorsement? Everyone in PR knows, the rise of the influencer means that celebrities aren’t what they used to be. With social media everyone can now be a celebrity in their own right and digital native millennials in particular are more influenced by Youtube and Insta stars than they are by traditional celebrities.


The rise of the ‘normal’ celeb, aka ‘influencers’ is largely down to the fact that they can reach and connect with people in a far more personal and relevant way than a traditional celebrity can. The ability for an audience to be able to relate to an influencer is key, which is why normal-every-day people who have something to say are becoming increasingly powerful in terms of influencing purchasing decisions.


So what is the best way for brands to navigate this celebrity 2.0 world?


It is still fair to say that celebrity has never mattered more than it does today, however here at LRR, we believe that genuine authentic influencers, with a visible connection to a brand are proving to be much more valuable than a famous celebrity with loads of followers who endorses a product purely for the pay check. In fact, we would go as far as to say that we think working with traditional celebrities can often be a complete waste of time.


To us, an authentic influencer, is a ‘normal celeb’ who genuinely cares about the product they are endorsing. This influencer must have a direct connection to the product or there is no point using them! This is key – nothing looks worse than a paid for promo that is obviously incongruous with a person’s lifestyle and ethos. Not only are they irrelevant, but they can also seriously undermine a brand’s credibility.


A perfect example is the project we have worked on for our client Victoria + Albert Baths with the 2 Lovely Gays. Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead have a passion for interiors, running a successful interior design studio and interiors blog and they are in the midst of renovating their home. After a face to face meeting with our client the duo were supplied with a freestanding bath, basin and vanity unit from the luxury bathing brand which have been installed within their own bathroom and bedroom. This has formed the basis of a longstanding partnership in which the 2 Lovely Gays are engaged in a programme of social media activation (3 months and counting), regularly sharing images and information on the Victoria + Albert Baths products across their social channels. In addition, the design duo will be offering up their home renovation as a case study for national press, are drafting a number of national interior trends features focusing on the Victoria + Albert Baths products and will be hosting an exclusive talk at the Victoria + Albert Baths Chelsea Harbour showroom during Design Week 18.


Another authentic influencer is Kate Watson-Smyth, journalist and founder of the acclaimed interiors blog; Mad About The House. Kate has worked with SMEG on a number of occasions, recently joining us on a press trip to celebrate the second partnership between SMEG and Dolce&Gabbana. As part of the product launch Kate engaged with the brand across her social channels, most notably taking part in a competition to share a video of yourself making pasta using the exclusive new Smeg x Dolce&Gabbana stand mixer, and the #’s #sicilyismylove and #dgsmeg. Kate’s Instagram video proved extremely popular, gaining over 8,000 views and as such Kate won the competition. In addition to this social activation, Kate also wrote an in depth piece about Smeg and the product launch on her blog. Kate is also set to take part in SMEG’s #kitcheninspo social campaign which will be running from October this year.



Partnership’s such as these have been positive experiences for our clients and have proved very fruitful for both parties while also generating authentic, interesting and relevant branded content for our target audience to consume.


So, back to traditional celebrity endorsement. Another worry when undertaking this activity is the behaviour of the celebrity themselves. You can sign a contract with a celebrity, you can ask them to post as many posts as you pay for but one thing you can’t control is how that celebrity lives their lives. If you are running a campaign fronted by a scandalous celebrity and this celebrity makes a racist comment, has a social media spat or generally attracts bad press during this period, your campaign can instantly appear toxic to the media.


We are often contacted by celebrities (not mentioning names!) willing to work with our brands for a large wad of cash. All of these names will certainly attract media and press coverage and massive amounts of attention but – the key questions we encourage all our clients to ask when considering working with a celebrity are:


  • Does this celebrity resonate with my target audience?
  • Does this celebrity truly represent the brand?
  • Does this celebrity truly care about the brand?
  • Is this celebrity respected by the media?
  • Will this celebrity actually benefit my brand?
  • Will the partnership generate positive media coverage?
  • Does the ROI justify the initial investment?
  • Does this partnership have the potential to become a long term, collaboration?

If we can’t answer yes to all of these questions, its an automatic no from us.

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