There is no empirical evidence proving that Barack Obama’s love of his BlackBerry accelerated sales of the Research In Motion (RIM) smartphone in the fourth quarter of 2008. But stunningly high sales of the gadget are so coincidentally timed around the news of the president’s refusal to give up his BlackBerry; they seem hardly a coincidence at all.
I dig into this issue a bit more in today’s article on The Industry Standard – iPhone vs. BlackBerry: For once, Apple might lose a popularity contest.
But the larger discussion of celebrity endorsements as a marketing strategy for product sales is an interesting one. Companies have been hiring celebrities for years to be the face of their products, to often remarkable results. And research shows that there is usually a benefit to companies that hire a celebrity to endorse their products.
According to a report that explores the relationship between celebrity endorser effects and advertising effectiveness, the key factors for a positive celebrity endorsement are:
1. Celebrity Performance
2. Negative Information
3. Celebrity Credibility
4. Celebrity Expertise
5. Celebrity Trustworthiness
6. Celebrity Attractiveness
7. Celebrity Familiarity
8. Celebrity Likeability
9. Celebrity/Product Fit
If the keys to a celebrity endorsement’s success lie in these factors, it would seem that a celebrity that has these factors, uses a product in ”real life,” and is a fit would be a homerun for a company. Someone like President Obama, who currently has incredibly high ratings in all these areas – and is a perfect fit for the professional BlackBerry user profile – is a major win for the company.
But how can companies harness that publicity and put it to work for their products? How can BlackBerry take advantage of Obama’s support? How can Prius use Cameron Diaz everyday driving of their car to their benefit? How can Baby Bjorn take advantage of star power mom Angelina Jolie’s use of their product as she travels with her six kids to Japan?
Taking advantage of the power of these types of everyday celebrity endorsements will be an interesting challenge for companies as they wade through the legal issues involved. Perhaps the best hope is in spreading images and information virally, and hoping that the media catches onto the story.
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