Star Power: The Pros and Cons of a Celebrity Spokesperson

Dear House Rules,

My company has recently been toying with the idea of hiring a celebrity spokesperson to bring high exposure to our brand. I know celebrities can bring a lot of outside attention, but is it worth the effort? Would we be better off investing those resources elsewhere?


Am I ready for my close up?

Dear Close Up:

This is a great question. On any given year, around 15% of print and TV ads in the United States feature a celebrity. Using a TV, film or sports star your clients are already familiar with can add prestige to your brand and bring instant awareness and credibility to your product, but there are also drawbacks to using a celebrity that should be considered before taking the plunge.

So let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of turning to a celebrity spokesperson to sell your product:

  • Brand synergy: When picking someone to endorse your brand, not all celebrities are created equally. You want to find a star that your target audience will be familiar with and will trust. It’s best if you can find a celebrity who already uses your product or is, at least, associated with it in the public’s mind. If they aren’t, you run the risk of the endorsement feeling empty.
    • Shire did this correctly when they acquired Jennifer Aniston as their eye-drops spokesperson. Shire reached out to Aniston after hearing her mention in an interview that her only “addiction” was to eye drops. They hired the star, who is a dry eye syndrome sufferer, to do a series of commercials chronicling her condition.
  • The price of success: Hiring a celebrity to sell your brand can be costly, especially if you are producing commercials. You may find it to be more cost-effective to use your chosen star in print ads or public appearances. If the celebrity has a strong social media following, arranging a compensated endorsement campaign across their digital channels could be a more casual and cost-effective way to make their fans aware of your product.
    • Another great way to utilize a celebrity endorsement is to launch a new website that features a celebrity testimonial, instead of a traditional TV spot. That’s precisely what sanofi-aventis U.S. did when they teamed up with Paul Sorvino and his daughter Mira Sorvino to talk about his struggles with type 2 diabetes. They launched a website called “Diabetes Co-Stars” to share his story and to offer tips to others with diabetes.
  • An unbreakable bond: If your campaign is a success, the general public will begin to associate your chosen celebrity with your product. This can be a great boon to your business as a celebrity’s success in their field can lead to increased visibility for you. However, this can be a double-edged sword. Any bad press for the star can be bad press for your company. By hiring a celebrity, you are taking the risk of their private life damaging your public profile.
    • One classic example of this bond paying off was Carter Products campaign to promote their psychiatric drug Miltown in 1958. They enlisted comedian Milton Berle, who started calling himself “Miltown” Berle and began mentioning the prescription drug in his act.

It’s important to take all these factors into consideration before making a final decision. Hiring a celebrity spokesperson can be a risk, but a successful campaign could bring massive rewards. Be clear on what you want out of the partnership and what you are willing to offer up to get it.

Keep an eye out for other campaigns using celebrity spokespeople. See which ones you respond to, then ask yourself why these endorsements work. Let that be your guide when seeking your own celebrity endorsement. Choose your spokesperson wisely and it’s your brand that will be the star.

If you’re not sure if a celebrity endorsement is right for your brand, we recommend you partner with a creative and strategic agency to help you determine if this would be the right fit for you.

About Xavier Creative House

Founded in 2013, Xavier Creative House (XCH) is an award-winning healthcare creative agency specializing in pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device. XCH’s global team of brand builders and healthcare marketers, tech-savvy go-getters, and innovative dream-vetters are passionate about the big idea that changes behavior in the healthcare marketplace. They believe life is about connections and that healthcare is about life. That is why XCH delivers bold and evocative creative solutions, amplified by meaningful technology, to energize brands and authentically connect with patients and HCPs.

Where Healthcare Brands Live®

For more information, contact

Sunny White
Founder & CEO of Xavier Creative House