How do celebrities influence fans?

Celebrities as brand ambassadors - and why the concept is so successful

Celebrity Endorsement: Stars who promote brands

The concept of celebrity endorsement has been around for a very long time. Stars are used in this marketing strategy - and that has a number of advantages.

What is Celebrity Endorsement?

Celebrity endorsement means a certain form of marketing. It's about promoting a particular service or product with one or more celebrities. The principle is also known as celebrity branding and is one of four possible forms of testimony.

When advertising with testimonials, the statements of satisfied customers increase the authenticity of the advertising message.

The main aim of the prominent support of the advertising is to reach a larger audience with the help of the fan community and to transfer the positive associations that fans have with the celebrity to the advertised products.

However, celebrity endorsement can also go beyond the usual advertising media such as TV spots and posters. Stars who work as brand ambassadors are often equipped with various branded articles or with the product they are promoting. The celebrities use these products in their everyday life and show them on their social media channels.

What are the benefits of Celebrity Endorsement?

Brand ambassadors are seen as a guarantee of success. Companies that advertise their products and brands with the help of Celebrity Endorsement hope for some advantages from the cooperation.

  • More attention: In the age of information overload, stimuli are often very selective. Only stimuli that are perceived as important arouse people's attention and penetrate their consciousness. Celebrities therefore serve as eye-catchers and attention-grabbers in the advertisements. This is how often they can give a product superior assertiveness in the marketplace.
  • More turnover: The right brand ambassador creates trust with the consumer and thus makes the purchase decision easier for them. This increases the chance that a testimonial will not only increase brand value and sales, but also improve the company's image.
  • Positive image transfer: The reputation that precedes the celebrity is automatically carried over to the advertised product or brand. At best, it is above all positive associations that the fans associate with the celebrity and transfer them to the advertised products.
  • Higher sympathy ratings: Another potential benefit is that celebrity advertising affects consumer attitudes and preferences in favor of the product being advertised.
  • Higher recognition value: Most of the time, a product stays in the memory much longer when consumers associate it with a celebrity. The recognition value (recall value) is then significantly higher.

Famous brand ambassadors

The principle of celebrity endorsement is not new. Companies have been relying on testimonials for over 200 years and, of course, many national and international stars are still active as brand ambassadors today:

  • Bastian Schweinsteiger (36) for the chips from funny-frisch
  • Charlize Theron (45) for the perfume brand Dior
  • The players of the German national team for the Gillette razor brand
  • Massimo Sinato (40) and Rebecca Mir (29) for the Nintendo Switch game console
  • Daniel Boschmann (40) for Maxcare
  • Lewis Hamilton (36) and Alicia Keys (40) for the Mercedes S-Class
  • Angelique Kerber (33) for the shampoo brand Head & Shoulders

Celebrity support and its effect

Prominent personalities have become an indispensable part of advertising. Companies expect a cooperation with them to increase their awareness, higher sales figures and a positive brand image.

In fact, it is possible that products and services promoted by celebrities are more likely to be purchased and have a better image. A study by the market research company Ace Metrix, which measures advertising effectiveness in the USA, shows that this does not apply across the board: testimonial advertising can be effective, but also have the opposite effect or simply make no difference at all.

The mere familiarity of a star does not turn a product, collection or brand into a best seller. Various factors have to work together so that the prominent support achieves the desired effect.

Factors that are decisive for success

Basically it is credibility of a celebrity is an important factor that decides whether a testimonial advertisement tops or flops. Testimonials have to be authentic and experienced as "real".

But it is the case that the credibility is impaired by various aspects. It starts with that Brand fit: Celebrities and the product they support have to be compatible. There has to be a meaningful connection between the two.

As a racing driver for Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton is ideal as an advertising ambassador for the car brand.

However, the preference for advertising spots with celebrities is related to how much the respondents are generally interested in celebrities: the stronger the interest, the more likely testimonial advertising is preferred.

Credibility is also influenced by personal interest in celebrities: those surveyed with a high level of interest estimate the proportion of celebrities who use the advertised products themselves, at 43 percent, almost twice as high as those surveyed who are hardly interested in stars.

Another point is that interest the public: A representative survey by Splendid Research from 2015 ascertained what kind of celebrities the Germans surveyed are interested in and how they rate the use of well-known personalities in advertising. 27 percent of respondents like advertising with celebrities better than without.

Also the sympathy towards the celebrity plays an important role. If the celebrity is liked by the media user, that makes the brand likeable.

It is even more intense emotional attachmentAs shown by the scientifically based explanations in the specialist journal Media Perspektiven. In this case, advertising with a celebrity is not just entertaining, but is related to your own wishes. Both have a positive effect on the brand and product assessment, but an emotional bond is also conveyed through the importance that the celebrity has for the consumer - for example, an orientation or role model function.

Potential risk factors

Driving up the sales figures with prominent help is not possible with every cooperation. Stars do not necessarily increase the advertising impact, but sometimes even reduce it: In times of digital networking, famous personalities are on more and more channels in exchange with fans, but also with haters. This increases the success potential of Celebrity Endorsement, and at the same time increases the risks due to the enormous media coverage. Media Perspektiven also goes into this and mentions the following points:

  • Scandals and misconduct: Celebrities who are involved in scandals or behave questionably in public can drag a company down with them and may even affect the competition of the advertised brand.
  • Missing brand fit: If the celebrity and the product do not go together, the testimonial in advertising looks out of place and is more likely to attract ridicule than to impress the consumer.
  • Eclipsing: When celebrities in advertisements draw attention to themselves instead of to the product and thus overshadow it (eclipse), viewers remember the testimonial, but not what was advertised.
  • Multiple endorsements: Celebrities who advertise multiple brands as multi-testimonials create suspicion among many potential consumers.

In addition, not only can sympathy be transferred to the brand, but also a general one antipathy towards the celebrity. In fact, there are some hated celebrities out there.

As indicated in the aforementioned study by Ace Metrix, a too strongly polarizing effect to the public affect a celeb's credibility in advertising.

For example in cosmetics advertising. After all, beauty is always in the eye of the beholder: some find a celebrity attractive and buy the effect of the product from them. The others are only moderately enthusiastic about its appearance and react skeptically to the advertising. It can be similarly problematic if a star has a polarizing opinion on a certain topic.

Another risk factor is a strong one Addiction of brand success from the popularity of the testimonial. Neither will one wrong brand strategy or one poor conception better by using a celebrity.

Examples of successful celebrity endorsement

Despite all the risks, there are also some examples of successful advertising by celebrities. Many brands and products would by far not write such high sales figures without prominent help.

An absolute prime example of successful celebrity advertising is Thomas Gottschalk (70), who has worked for a quarter of a century Haribo was in use. The investment in the television star has paid off, because the gummy bear brand has demonstrably benefited enormously from Gottschalk's popularity. He made sure that the brand was better remembered than rated more likeable and bought more often.

(© imago / Jürgen Heinrich)

Likewise, actor George Clooney (59) is still closely related to the consumer in the minds of consumers Coffee brand Nespresso connected. He made capsule coffee a status symbol with his advertising - after all, he has been presenting the product for over a decade.

That too Balenciaga label had prominent support that made him famous. The daring fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga († 77) laid the foundation for this because he made a big splash in the business from the start: he opened his first haute couture salon in Paris in 1937 and a year later a studio for women's fashion in the upper price segment. Balenciaga experimented with unusual materials and cuts and, among other things, made oversized proportions and the babydoll silhouette socially acceptable.

The fashion designer changed and inspired the fashion world with his revolutionary and unusual creations. He was admired by other great designers such as Christian Dior - and some celebrities.

In addition to the Spanish nobility, Balenciaga's customers also included Queen Fabiola of Belgium, the Duchess of Windsor and Princess Gracia Patricia. Famous non-noble women such as Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich joined them.

With this prominent support, Balenciaga could afford not to advertise, because its fashion sold itself. Even today, the label is one of the most popular among celebrities.

It was a similar experience Fashion designer Grace Wales Bonnerwhen Duchess Meghan Markle (39) and Prince Harry (36) appeared in public for the first time with son Archie on May 8, 2019. Meghan wore a white trench dress that the designer had created.

Although all eyes were initially on baby Archie (1), the Duchess of Sussex's style quickly dominated the news. After this appearance, the name of Wales Bonner was on everyone's lips - and in all browser searches.

Celebrity and product - this is how the connection is made

There are two types of celebrity marketing: celebs who endorse each brand and those who carefully choose the collaborations. When celebrities advertise different brands, they quickly come across as inauthentic. This has a negative impact on sales figures and the engagement rate.

Celebrities who decide more critically which brands they want to work with bring more added value to a company because they are more likely to increase the impact of the advertising campaign.

They understand that over-saturating their social feeds with sponsored content could negatively impact relationships with their fans and followers. Therefore, they are much more careful to ensure that a brand or product they are supposed to promote actually fits them and their public opinion before agreeing to work with a label. The cooperation must be justifiable for them in every respect in front of the fans.

What else is important in the celebrity product combination

In order for the collaboration with celebrities to be successful, there are a few things to consider when choosing.

  • The celebrity should match the company's values ​​and not be involved in any scandals in order to avoid negative financial effects.
  • Conversely, the product has to suit the celebrity. Otherwise, the cooperation will not bring new customers, no matter how famous the star is.
  • The product has to work: There is nothing worse for a brand than buying a famous celebrity for a huge amount of money if the product doesn't work in the end. This can have a long-term impact on brand perception and put the celebrity in an uncomfortable position.

Celebrity Marketing versus Influencer Marketing

Prominent brand ambassadors are often referred to as influencers in the context of social media. In addition to the existing similarities, there are also clear differences between the two concepts of celebrity marketing and influencer marketing.

The advertising place

Celebrity Marketing describes the use of celebrities in various marketing measures. Influencer marketing takes place exclusively in social networks. A celebrity who advertises a certain product as a testimonial on television is different from product placement by an influencer on social media, who can in principle post from anywhere in the world and in private.

The target group

While social media influencers mostly only serve a young target group on the Internet, TV personalities manage to reach both the television audience and the “Internet generation”. After all, TV stars usually also have their own personal social media channels.

The mode of action

Celebrity Marketing combines the awareness of a celebrity with a brand or a product. This means that the celebrities are adored by their fans and at the same time associated with the advertised product. Brands used this strategy to bring their product into association with the celebrity and thus generate purchasing decisions among consumers.

Influencer marketing is much more about communication: Influencers are active in social media channels and present brands and products to a certain group of people - namely the followers who trust the influencer. By making appropriate statements about a brand or a product, they build the image in the minds of their followers.

In general, influencers are in constant dialogue with their followers. They answer questions and go into more detail about a product when the community wants to know more about it. Under certain circumstances, this creates a deeper interest in certain brands and products.

In celebrity marketing, on the other hand, communication is in most cases one-sided. For example with TV commercials or billboard advertising.

The range

For companies, reach plays a decisive role in both marketing strategies. It's always about reaching as many people as possible with advertising. For celebrity marketing, it is just as easy to estimate how many people see the advertisement as for influencer marketing. One is only concerned with measuring methods such as the circulation figures of magazines and surveys on audience ratings, with the other about the number of followers, subscribers and clicks.

Market your own label

Do you have your own brand that you want to make better known? Here are a few tips for you on how to market your label and drive sales.

Use external online shops

Creating your own online shop can be a big challenge in itself: After all, there are a number of things you have to consider in addition to the legal notice. For example, the products must be presented in an appealing way and with all the necessary information.

The biggest challenge, however, is getting potential customers to visit your online shop. This is exactly what external online shops can help you with. They bring the customers to you. All you have to do is create a profile, enter your products and define items such as your terms and conditions and payment methods.


Crowdfunding, in German swarm or group financing, is primarily intended to provide financial support for projects and business ideas. For this purpose, the project is presented on a crowdfunding platform and it is stated how much money is required to implement it. That is the funding goal.

With the help of many donors, each of whom only contributes a small amount, it is important to achieve this goal. In return for a donation, there are usually material goods or certain project-related privileges.

Crowdfunding works according to the “all or nothing” principle: If the funding goal is not achieved, all supporters get their money back, but do not receive anything in return.

A crowdfunding campaign also has advantages for marketing: Because so many people are involved in the financing, the project is known to many from the start. That can help reach a larger audience. In addition, a close bond is created between the crowd and the company.

Run your own blog

If you run your own blog, you can not only integrate your shop on it. You also have the opportunity to bring your ideas and products closer to your target group in a creative way. By regularly writing new articles, you can retain your customers even further and learn more about them and their needs.

Have the label entered in a label database

A company can register its own brand with the points of sale on special websites. The advantage of these label databases is an enormous range. Cooperation partners and interested parties use such databases to find brands and newcomers.

Rely on celebrities and influencers

It can also make sense for you to resort to the support of celebrities or influencers. Fashion bloggers, YouTube stars and other influencers are role models for many and can thus influence the opinion of the community. You can take advantage of this by letting them test your products and give their opinion. Ideally, both of you will benefit from the cooperation.

So that the high investment in a celebrity's appearance is really worthwhile for your advertising, testimonial advertising must be significantly more successful than advertising without celebrities.