Head to Head: Are brands wasting time using celebrity endorsements?

In this series, Mumbrella invites the industry's senior PR professionals to share their opposing views on the industry's biggest issues. This week, Aaron Brooks, co-founder at Vamp, goes head to head with opr's head of brand advocacy, Erin Murphy, on whether or not brands are wasting time using celebrity endorsements.

There are many executives, brands and agencies who warn against the use of micro-influencers as a form of advertising, while others believe top tier celebrities and famous influencers are the best way to grow a brand.

Vamp’s co-founder Aaron Brooks believes the use of top-tier celebrities as influencers is a waste of time and celebrity endorsements are incredibly expensive and focus on the the wrong metric.

Meanwhile, Erin Murphy, head of brand advocacy at opr Agency, disagrees and argues that top-tier celebrity influencers play a vital role as brand advocates and can deliver reach.

Yes, argues, Aaron Brooks, co-founder at Vamp:

Brooks says: “celebrity endorsements do not resonate with audiences”

“I believe they are. Celebrity endorsements are not only incredibly expensive, but focus on the wrong metric. With celebrities you are buying reach, access to their huge followings, but that doesn’t always equate to engagement: the thing that will ultimately deliver ROI.

“Recent studies have suggested that celebrity endorsements do not resonate with audiences. According to Zine, only 25% of consumers would consider buying a product that had been recommended by a celebrity with over a million followers, while 50% would be ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ to purchase an item if it was promoted by a specialist with a smaller following.

“We know that consumers are becoming increasingly skeptical. Relatable micro and macro influencers, with their specialisms, smaller audiences and greater connection with followers are often more trusted than celebrities. Crucially, consumers are more likely to follow their recommendations.

“For the same budget as a single celebrity sponsored post, marketers could use multiple micro influencers in a multi-staged campaign, reaching targeted and engaged followings over time.”

No argues, Erin Murphy, head of brand advocacy at opr Agency:

Murphy says celebrity influencers play a role as brand advocates

“No – top tier celebrities can, and do, play a role as brand advocates and influencers. It’s about establishing campaign objectives, brand alignment and defining the role that influencers, of all shapes and sizes, can play as an element to a campaign.

“Influencer strategy requires marketers to apply the same rigour that they put into media planning. If a top tier celebrity has an active, relevant and high quality social media presence with a large following, then we would view them as a partner that can provide reach to help increase brand awareness.

“Take Kendall Jenner for example. The reality TV star was appointed the face of Estee Lauder in 2014. Within days of the announcement, Estee Lauder’s Instagram acquired more than 50,000 new followers, and when Jenner took her famous ‘digital detox’ in 2015, the brand’s total Instagram engagement plummeted. Throughout the ambassadorship, Jenner – a style icon to young people around the world – proved to drive strong brand and social currency, swaying her audience with every move she made.

“Brands like Nike rely on thousands of influencers in addition to its celebrity ambassadors and athletes to drive its strategy. It’s about understanding the role each one (celebrity or influencer) plays within sport communities and audiences. They do different things but should work to complement each other.

“It comes down to your objective and the role you want influencers to play in a campaign. For brands that are looking to increase engagement, drive a specific action or reach a specific audience it may be more important to work with influencers that resonate in a more personal or relevant way.

“Brands should develop a strategic approach to advocacy and influence. Whether you are working with a celebrity or social media influencers, it’s about engaging them in the right way at the right time to reach the audience you are targeting and meet your objectives. There is no single way of working and often a mix of different types of influencers is the best way to go. Choosing a celebrity that is totally aligned to your brand is the only ‘must do’.”


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