Celebrities are really, just normal people with awesome jobs; there isn’t anything particularly special about them. Sure, many of them are good at what they do, but plenty of people are good at their jobs. This, however, doesn’t change the fact that celebrities are important to their fans. Advertisers know this well and blatantly appeal to fans through celebrity endorsement.
Celebrity endorsements are not subtle in any way like the techniques the Food Network uses, but that doesn’t stop the media—especially advertisers—from using celebrity endorsements as a persuasive technique. Take Barack Obama for example, he received many celebrity endorsements for his 2008 election campaign. I found examples of this in a video on YouTube titled “Celebrities for Obama.” Will Smith, Tom Hanks, Oprah, and Hulk Hogan are only a few of the celebrities shown in the video, but they are good examples of the wide range of celebrities that endorsed Obama. Younger, potential voters probably took notice of Obama’s election campaign due to the fact that celebrities they supported, supported Obama. Moreover, when celebrities start a trend, there are always fans who are ready to follow.
One of Klosterman’s concerns with the Laff Box was that the use of it implies that an audience doesn’t know when they are supposed to laugh, and if they do know when to laugh, then they are not confident enough to do so. I see a similar problem occurring with celebrity endorsements. When advertisers have celebrities endorse their products it seems as though they believe consumers cannot decide what to buy on their own. It undermines the autonomy of consumers as real people. Nonetheless, unlike the Laff Boxes there doesn’t seem to be a negative attitude from the media surrounding the concept of celebrity endorsement, unless something goes wrong.
There are many cases when using a celebrity to endorse a product hurt the product’s image. In the summer of 2008, Chris Brown was featured in Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum commercial. In February of the following year, Chris Brown assaulted Rihanna, and the commercial was pulled because of the bad press surrounding Chris Brown. Had Wrigley’s continued to have that commercial aired, it would seem as though they were okay with physical abuse of women. No company wants their product to be associated with such horrible actions and risk losing fans; they made the right choice.
Celebrity endorsements are effective, but that’s not always a bad thing. Demi Lovato’s support for anti-bullying has brought much awareness to the cause. In any case, consumers should aim to be well informed before shopping, voting, or supporting a cause. In addition, when it comes to advertisements, it is important for consumers to remember that celebrities get paid to endorse products. When a consumer buys a product a celebrity has endorsed, they basically write the celebrity a check—which is an odd thought. Paying someone, to sell you something.