It has come to be. The age of the celebrity catch-all endorsement is dead. Well, dying…
While I’ve never truly fit the mould of the target demographic for brand endorsements by pop celebrity; there’s a growing momentum of more of a critical mass seeing a falsity and shallowness of the practice. What does Queen Latifah know about concealer or Taylor Swift about the impact of Diet Coke? My guess is little or possibly nothing. We see widespread understanding that celebrity endorsement today means that a public face is paid lots of money for their ability to sway, like a shepherd, purchasing decisions by a mass population. An endorsement no longer means what it has meant in the past, that a product has passed a moral test and is of good quality. The quality isn’t a relevant factor nor is the ecological impact of thousands/millions of purchases and disposal of the same thing. It has become a sheer cash exchange. We don’t hold Beyonce accountable if the lipstick she advertises causes an allergic reaction and puffed out lips, do we? So what does she care?
Now as we enter 2014, the sweet-spot millennial target consumer has started to become more discerning, the celebrity has to now be qualified to have an opinion on the product at a minimum. We may be witnessing a shift in who’s opinion the mass market trusts for guiding purchase decisions at all, and more, perhaps an age when the celebrity may even repel consumers as this skepticism gains popular momentum. Celebrities aren’t legitimate or trustworthy in most cases to endorse a product and magazines increasingly feel like biased reviews influenced by advertisers. In rising accounts, the shift looks like a growing trust in true experts: A basketball player telling me which basketball shoes will improve my performance; A dermatologist advising me on which skin creams will not harm me; An artist who’s studied hair and texture can tell me what I should buy for optimal hair beauty. A proven track record of authority and intelligence becomes the baseline impact for credibility. Soon, god willing, no longer will it suffice to have a spokesperson selected due to mass knowledge of their existence and fandom from a terrible laugh-track sitcom.
We can push brands past pretty faces to seek depth and authenticity. Dollar bills rule. Put your money where your values lie.
Happy New Year.