The Worth of Celebrity Endorsements?
What made my PR job easier?
Recently, I was approached by a fellow entrepreneur who was exploring a new concept: an online agency that procures celebrity endorsements for, primarily, startups like mine. Cool thought, at first. Then I thought about it some more.
One celebrity this entrepreneur offered to procure an endorsement from was Tim Ferris, well-known author of the 4-hour book series and vocal proponent of the 80/20 principle. I've read a lot of Tim's stuff, and I know Tim strongly advocates entrepreneurial boldness. In his first book, 4-hour Work Week, he suggests that no celebrity is off-limits. Anyone could and should cold-contact any celebrity he/she wishes to speak with/learn from. Be bold, and just reach out. That's what Tim did and what he advocates to his readers.
What would Tim think about this endorsement agency or the entrepreneurs that used it to connect with and benefit from celebrities' notoriety? I don't think, based on my reading of his stuff, that Tim would be a fan. At the very least, Tim would probably think that entrepreneurs who used such an agency were not as bold as they could/should be.
Plus, what would the wide-world think, both about that procured celebrity's endorsement of a brand and the endorsed brand itself? If the celebrity endorsement felt paid-for, the endorsement would probably hold far less sway than if the celebrity actually felt passionate enough about the brand/product to voluntarily endorse it.
My takeaway is this.
Celebrities have the power, by virtue of their large followings, to focus lots of attention on particular brand/products, but they don't have the ability to influence people's perceptions of those brands/products unless people perceive the celebrity's endorsement to be natural and unbiased. Think Lebron James endorsing shoes for pay versus Lebron James endorsing Harry Potter voluntarily because he enjoys those reads. If I want to be like Lebron, I'm more inclined to read what he reads (for fun) than to wear what he's paid to wear.