Thursday, July 12, 2012

Celebrity persuasion

One of our topics we covered this week was persuasion; more specifically, how advertisers, marketers, and PR specialists influence or persuade (some might say manipulate, but that's a debatable term) audiences to purchase their products. While in London last weekend for the Barclaycard music festival, I noticed more than a few instances where celebrities posed with a product. One specific instance featured Rihanna on a Vita Coco ad (Vita Coco is a brand of coconut water, a bevarage that's recently become more popular as a sort of "health drink"); many ads were strategically placed close to the music festival venue, where Rihanna was headlining on Sunday night. There were also tents inside the park that sold Vita Coco, again adorned with large life-size posters of Rihanna and Vita Coco. One tent had a cut-out of Rihanna holding a Vita Coco, and held a photo contest where people could take a picture with the Rihanna cut out and submit it for a prize.

Celebrity endorsement is, of course, nothing new; but do we consciously think about it? We see Charlize Theron holding Dior perfume, Ronaldinho (a Brazilian footballer) drinking Coke (before he got caught drink Pepsi, but that's an altogether different matter...), and a slew of other celebrites wearing/drinking/driving products, but does it consciously register that they're being paid to use these products? Or do we actually pick these products because our idols (and opinion leaders) have chosen them too? I love coconut water, and I like Rihanna, but I can't say I'd pick a certain brand just because I know a celebrity likes it too. But am I in the minority? How many of you choose products because they've been endorsed by well-known figures? Or, do you think you subconsciously favor products because of ads you've seen?

1 comment:

  1. First off, it is stunning how many Brits love Rihanna. It is hard to escape her here because her face is posted everywhere and her music is always blaring. Vita Coco is brilliant in having this celebrity endorse their product because she is so widely popular.

    As an ad major, and an member of a nation that is drowning in advertisements, it is 100% obvious to me that this celebrity endorsement is a form of advertising. It is so blatant that the company is piggy-backing onto Rihanna's popularity to get their brand noticed.

    But I do wonder if other foreigners that attend this concert slip into the ad trap. Citizens of countries with less advertising, such as smaller European countries like Holland or Switzerland, might not be so exposed to the celebrity endorsement form of advertising. They might actually believe that if they drink Vita Coco then they can be like Rihanna, which is exactly what the company wants them to think.

    Although I can spot the blatant ad, I wouldn't say I'm immune to celebrity endorsements. When I see Taylor Swift in an Urban Outfitters dress, I go to Urban Outfitters and buy that dress, not because she is endorsing it, but simply because I want to be like Taylor Swift. Sometimes, companies don't even need to stamp their logo. The celebrity is reason enough.