Last Updated: July 16, 2021

Famous people have always made excellent salesmen. Presenting a familiar face is one of the fastest and easiest ways for companies to create brand associations in the minds of consumers. When a widely loved actor or a heroic sports figure endorses a product, that product gains immediate credibility. (See also Marketing with Celebrities)

Celebrity marketing is a tactic featuring a famous person to offer an endorsement of a product. This famous person might be an actor, musician, athlete, ex-politician or a cartoon character. They do not need to be international superstars; they only need to be familiar to the target audience. For instance, a famous skateboarder might be unknown to the population at large, but beloved in the circle of young men that energy drinks are being marketed to.

A celebrity’s involvement can range from an explicit to an implicit endorsement of a product. Some celebrity marketing campaigns try to suggest that the star uses the product personally and enjoys it. Others simply involve the celebrity in the image of the brand, relying on the celebrity’s reputation rather than their outright endorsement to market a product.

Celebrity marketing has been used across all mediums. Print, television, radio, film and various forms of new media have all been effective outlets for celebrity endorsed products. The key is to match the right celebrity with the right product and place them both in the right ad campaign. If the combination is done well, it can lead to huge profits and an immediate change in the public perception of a company. If it is done poorly, it can ruin a brand overnight.

Successful and Unsuccessful Celebrity Marketing Campaigns


  • Michael Jordan for Hanes – The famous basketball star has endorsed Hanes brand clothing for over a decade. The admiration of the athlete lends an air of respectability and quality to the brand.
  • Britney Spears for Pepsi – The pop star was the celebrity face of a famous ad campaign in the late 90s. The singer’s worldwide fame and popularity helped to connect Pepsi with a new group of young soda drinkers.


  • OJ Simpson for Hertz – The football star endorsed Hertz Rent-A-Car throughout the 1980s. When he was accused of murder in the early 90s, the advertiser quickly severed their relationship with him.
  • Tiger Woods for Nike – Woods had been an iconic spokesman for the brand for years. Following the public meltdown of his marriage, Woods appeared in a now famous spot featuring a voice over from his deceased father. The ad was extremely unpopular and is widely considered one of the least effective ads of all time.

Who implements celebrity marketing?

Celebrity marketing can be a viable advertising strategy for companies both large and small and across all industries. Up to 15% of all advertisements that run in America feature a celebrity endorser.

Experience for Marketing Managers

Like almost all jobs, marketing managers get better at what they do as they gain more experience. The advertising world places a high priority on experience and a proven track record of success. Here is a chart of how long current marketing managers had been working in the field before they were promoted to manager.

Companies hoping to work with a celebrity endorser must be willing to pay a premium price for their services. The greatest disadvantage of celebrity marketing is the high cost of securing celebrity partnerships. Advertising mediums such as TV commercials can be expensive; therefore smaller companies can focus on more affordable options like print ads or autograph-signing events. A company hoping to work with a celebrity must balance risk and reward, both of which can be significant.

There are several reasons that a company might choose to use a celebrity marketing strategy . A new product can easily be introduced to consumers if they feel familiar and comfortable with the famous face endorsing it. Jamie Lee Curtis was hired to support a new line of Dannon yogurt, tying it to her image as a fit and active older woman. A celebrity marketing strategy might also simply be a way to associate a well-known product with a popular famous person. A successful, established brand like Pepsi frequently uses celebrity marketers to help associate their soda with young, attractive, and fun people. (See also Marketing Soft Drinks)

How is a Celebrity Marketing Plan Developed and Implemented?

The key to a successful celebrity marketing campaign lies in connecting the right celebrity with the right product (See also Product Marketing). The celebrity must be seen by the public as a credible endorser. If their reputation and resume do not reflect the product they advertise the marketing message will appear hollow.

The credibility of the celebrity breaks down into three categories: expertise, trustworthiness and attractiveness. A successful celebrity endorser must be seen as an expert in the industry they are endorsing. Celebrity chefs will be more believable selling kitchen knives than motor oil. The celebrity must also be considered trustworthy to the demographic being marketed to. If a celebrity has a checkered past or controversial opinions it can reduce their credibility as a spokesman. Finally, they must be considered attractive to the target demographic. This is more than just physical attractiveness. This extends to respect for the celebrity’s achievements and their public character.

Once a celebrity has been chosen there are a number of logistical details to work out. It is important that the terms of a contract are clearly spelled out to protect the interests of both the endorser and the advertiser. The length of the endorsement deal needs to be established and any special conditions that apply to either party need to be agreed upon. An endorsement deal is only signed after lengthy negotiations between agents, lawyers and marketing representatives. Celebrities rarely carry out negotiations themselves.

Selecting a Celebrity Marketer

Marketers use the acronym FRED to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of potential marketing campaigns. The same tools are used to evaluate celebrity spokesmen. Here is how it works.

  • Familiarity – The more familiar a celebrity is to the widest possible segment of the population, the more affective their ads will be. Relatively unknown celebrities are only used to market niche products and speak to very specific demographics.
  • Relevance – Marketers strive to create the greatest fit between a product and its celebrity endorser. The celebrity chosen must be seen in the eyes of the public as linked to the product they endorse. The greater the link, the more customers will trust the message being delivered.
  • Esteem – The more esteem that a celebrity endorser has, the more that esteem will transfer over to the product they are endorsing. Celebrity marketing is about associating a famous person’s reputation with a product. The better their reputation, the better the product appears.
  • Differentiation – The advertising market is fierce and it can be difficult to differentiate similar products from each other. Advertisers are always trying to find a message or an image that makes their product seem unique when compared to competitors. Having an esoteric or unexpected celebrity spokesman can be a great way to stand out from the crowd.

Careers in Celebrity Marketing

Attributes and Skills of a Celebrity Marketer

Celebrity marketing requires special skills that make these professionals unique in the field of advertising. First, and foremost, anyone working with celebrities must be able to set aside the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. An endorsement deal is a business deal and it is important that advertisers remain objective even when dealing with dazzling celebrities.

Celebrity marketing also requires a savvy analysis of the media landscape. Advertisers must be able to pinpoint a celebrity’s place in the popular culture in order to best pair them with a product or message. Trends in media, current celebrity gossip and upcoming blockbuster films are all things that a successful advertiser has to track.

Finally, marketers who work with celebrity spokesmen have to be exceptional with people and able to deal with the egos of some of the most famous people on earth. Celebrities are famous because of their outsized personalities, but these can strain a business relationship. Keeping both the celebrity and the advertiser happy is crucial for a successful partnership.

How can a marketing school help you succeed?

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Celebrity marketing is a unique mixture of business and creative skill. An ad campaign must grab the attention of customers and accomplish the goals of advertisers. The balance between entertainment and salesmanship is a difficult one to pull off. That is why there are as many failed ad campaigns as successful ones.

The best way to get an introduction into the world of celebrity marketing and all the skills necessary to be successful is to get a degree in marketing. At the undergraduate level, this will be broadly focused and will encompass the principles of marketing across all mediums and industries. Students will get a wide range of education that includes the history, ethics and strategies of marketing. (See also Ethical Marketing)

At the graduate level, degrees in marketing become more focused. Students can choose to specialize in the areas that interest them most or that will be most relevant to their career goals. This might include performing market research, advanced production techniques, international marketing strategies or consumer psychology. Advanced education is usually necessary to get higher level celebrity marketing jobs.

Education is crucial to breaking into the marketing industry. As many as 55% of marketing professionals have at least a bachelor’s degree in marketing and 38% have a master’s degree. By contrast, just 3% of marketing professionals have only a high school diploma or an associate’s degree. A degree in marketing proves to employers that you have the skills, experience and drive necessary to work on successful ad campaigns.