Golf champion and superstar Tiger Woods has been a sports icon for many years through his great reputation in the field. He has been the celebrity marketer for sports and Shoe Company known as NIKE. Since the year 1996, Tiger Woods has been the NIKE celebrity endorser and year by year he has still been able to maintain that position (Egan, 2008). The company’s manager states that the company is humbled and thrilled to still be in partnership with Tiger Woods, who has been the company’s product promoter for years, through a contract that was signed recently. Despite his marriage issues that went public in the year 2009, NIKE stood by him and as long as he kept winning on the course, his portfolio regained its stature with time. Around that period many companies distanced themselves from Woods but experts had predicted that his reputation would go back to normal with time. Currently companies such as EA sports and Rolex are seeking for contracts with him so as to market their products. Many retail companies use celebrities to promote their products with the main reason being to earn trust and credibility of products and services. The main objective of any business is to make a profit and this is only achieved through the maximum sale of products and attracting of customers (Egan, 2008). This therefore raises concern within the business marketing sector, is it advantageous for the company or disadvantageous to have a celebrity market their products or services? Below are the pros and cons of using a celebrity as an endorsement to the company’s products.
Benefits of Celebrity Endorsement
It Will Help Build Product Credibility
When a company starts producing a new product, the use of a celebrity to promote those products helps build trust between the company and the customers. If the market for a certain product believes in a certain celebrity the highest probability is that they will trust in the product the celebrity is endorsing. When NIKE signed a contract with Tiger Woods to promote their sportswear, the company’s product which includes caps, T-shirts, bands, shoes, and track suits; the products earned the trust of many athletes from different categories of sports including tennis, athletics, and basket-ball (Koekemoer, 2004). When potential buyers of a product see a certain celebrity using a specific product, they believe that the product is of high quality and when they use it they perceive to be as important as the celebrity if they idolize him or her.
It Can Help a Company Recover its Image
In several occasions a company may lose its credibility in the market due to various company flaws. However, by the use of a celebrity to promote its products a company can get back on its feet once again. For example, a company may be involved in legal issues or bankruptcy which may lead to loss of customers and their faith in the company; with the use of a celebrity to promote the product the company is able to build its rapport. Finally it is able to attract its customers back and attract more.
Helps Compensate on Innovation
An entrepreneur may lack the ideas to add quality to his or her product but through advertisement and celebrity endorsement, the product gains credibility in the market. For example, several sports companies sell and produce the same products NIKE does and this causes high competition between NIKE and other companies. However, through the use of sports celebrities such as Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan the company has managed to outstand in the market share; their products are mostly used because the customers identify the company with these celebrities (Smart, 2005).
It Helps in Delivering the Message to the Public
Advertisement is the only major way a company can promote its products or services. This activity involves letting the audience know the name of the product, what it is, what it is used for and also gives information on the benefits of using that product. How this information is conveyed to the public determines if message has been delivered or not. Through the use of an idolized celebrity in advertisement of the product high chances are the audience will take interest on the product. When NIKE uses tennis champion Vanessa Williams to advertise their rackets and sportswear the audience gets attracted to the product and they want to try it out. The customers will buy the products in order to see whether what they have learnt about the product is true. This signifies that the message was received by the customers.
The above points are advantages of using a celebrity in promoting products, but on the other hand several disadvantages come with the use of celebrities in product marketing. These include;
Disadvantages of Celebrity Endorsement
The Image of the Company may be Ruined if the Celebrity’s Image is.
The reputation of a company may be destroyed as a result of celebrity scandals. When Tiger Woods was involved with several sex scandals and cases of infidelity, his reputation changed for the worst and many people viewed him negatively. Other companies such as General Motors and Gillette withdrew from him but NIKE stuck with him. They faced consequences because customers withdrew from buying their products and the public viewed them negatively. Through such instances the use of a celebrity becomes a disadvantage to the company and the consequences pose a great threat to the company.
The Popularity of the Celebrity May Cause Trust Issues with Customers.
At the height of his popularity and fame due to golf, Tiger Woods had signed up for several product endorsements for many companies (McDonald, 2002). The public may see this as just a way for the celebrity to make money and the credibility of the product may suffer due to this; customers may doubt the quality of the product and this would be bad for business. Through this, the use of a celebrity may have a negative impact on the product market as it may lead to customers refraining from the use of the product.
The Celebrity May Overshadow the Product.
When a celebrity features in several advertisements involving different products, the audience may get carried away and forget the main thing, which is the product, and focus only on the celebrity. For example, when Tiger Woods takes part in the advertisement of NIKE’s products, General Motors, Rolex, and Gillette; the audience gets lost and forgets what products are being promoted and focus on the celebrity only because that is the only constant feature (McDonald, 2002). Through this loss of information about the product’s name and its use leads to poor performance in the market.
When a company decides to involve a celebrity in its advertisements and in product or service marketing, there is a greater advantage to it than disadvantage. However, despite having minimal disadvantages they still have a great impact on the product or service. As a company it is recommended that certain aspects should be examined before signing up for celebrity endorsement of products.
- Egan, J. (2008). Marketing communications. London: Thomson.
- Koekemoer, L., & Bird, S. (2004).Marketing communications. Lansdowne, South Africa: Juta Academic.
- Smart, B. (2005). The sport star modern sport and the cultural economy of sporting celebrity. London: SAGE.
- McDonald, D., (2002). “An examination on multiple celebrity endorsers in advertising”, Journal of Product & Brand management, Vol. 11, No.1, pp. 19-29.