Online Or Off, Star Power Overrated
Getting an A-list blogger to endorse your product isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, according to new research. And, according to another research paper, getting celebrities to endorse political campaigns can backfire.
The first paper, to be published in the December 2007 issue of the Journal of Advertising Research, suggests that advertisers should focus on "old fashioned" word of mouth tactics, where the collective spreads the message, rather than a "few elite and highly connected believed to have the most persuasive power."
The findings contradict traditional advertising practices, where celebrity endorsements are standard practice. But people are not only more likely to trust an endorsement coming from a friend, but are also eager to pass the message along.
The study was co-authored by James Coyle, assistant professor of marketing in Miami’s Farmer School of Business and of interactive media studies, Elizabeth Lightfoot of CNET Networks, and Ted Smith and Amy Scott of MedTrackAlert.
“We find that trying to track down key influencers, people who have extremely large social networks, is typically unnecessary and, more importantly, can actually limit a campaign or advertisement’s viral potential,” said Coyle, in a statement.
“Instead, marketers need to realize that the majority of their audience, not just the well-connected few, is eager and willing to pass along well-designed and relevant messages.”
News of the study comes just a day after another bit of research, conducted by Saint Joseph’s University’s Dr. Natalie Wood and published by the Journal of Political Marketing, found that celebrity endorsement of political candidates can actually drive voters the other direction.
“In terms of voting behavior, family and significant others are more influential than celebrities in engaging support for a political candidate,” said Wood. "At first glance, it would appear that the money and time invested in celebrity support is wasteful.”
Wood also says that young voters sometimes rebel against political endorsements, and that it may be better if celebrities encouraged voters, rather than whom to vote for.