SBD/January 14, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Study Finds Ads Featuring Celebrities Are Not Very Effective

A new study from ad tracker Ace Metrix found that “celebrities aren’t as influential in hawking products as many marketers think they are,” according to Steve McClellan of ADWEEK. The firm “analyzed celebrity ads that broke in 2010, and found that in most cases, spots featuring celebs weren’t any more effective than regular ads in the same categories.” In fact, in “many cases the celebrity ads performed less effectively.” The Ace study “tested more than 2,600 television commercials over the course of last year and found that fewer than 12 percent of the spots using celebrities achieved a 10 percent effectiveness ‘lift’ versus regular ads.” Nearly 20% of celebrity ads “produced effectiveness scores that were weaker on the firm’s effectiveness scale" by more than 10%. The Ace study found that Tiger Woods "proved to be the worst celebrity spokesperson of 2010.” Collectively, Woods’ TV spots were 23% “less effective than average, and Americans in general, regardless of gender or age, were equally unreceptive to his ads.” Woods’ “Did You Learn Anything?” Nike spot was the “worst scoring celebrity ad of the year,” and 30% “less effective than regular commercials in the athletic footwear category.” Radio Shack’s Lance Armstrong “No Emoticons” ad was the “second worst performing celebrity spot.” ESPN’s Kenny Mayne (Gillette) and NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Nationwide) also “starred in some of the worst performing spots” (, 1/13).

NO BOON FOR BRANDS: Ace Metrix CEO Peter Daboll in a special to AD AGE wrote, “Just because an ad is incredibly popular, funny and/or viral, that doesn't mean that it is effective with consumers. The same rule goes for celebrities. Just because a celebrity is incredibly popular ... does not mean they will provide a similar boon to brands in advertising. In fact, our report empirically demonstrates the very weak and sometimes negative relationship between celebrities and ad effectiveness.” He added, “The great news in all of this is that brands should not have to feel compelled to shell out big bucks on a celebrity. Instead, they should be charging their agencies with creating ads that have a strong, watchable creative message (high on attention, relevance, information, desire)” (, 1/12).

NOT SO FAST, MY FRIEND: Octagon First Call VP & Managing Dir David Schwab on his blog wrote he finds Ace Metrix’ study “incredibly short sighted.” Schwab: “Simply put, the research person writing the article didn’t ask any of the brands in the article what ‘defines success’ in their particular campaigns. ... Blaming the celebrity as the cause for weak advertising is simply an elementary conclusion. A bad ad is a bad ad. Choosing the right celebrity for the right message can still create magic" (, 1/13).

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