Record drop in number of ads using celebrities
LONDON - Jamie Oliver and Gary Lineker may be leading a list of celebrities in UK advertising, but the use of celebs has fallen from 21% to 13% over the past five years according to a report by WPP research company Millward Brown.
The UK is ranked seventh in the list of countries to use celebrities in advertising, with Japan, Korea and China taking the top positions and Egypt at the bottom.
One in eight ads in the UK now features a celebrity, but according to Peter Walshe, manager of Millward Brown's celebrity and sponsorship unit, their use in advertising is cyclical and the number is likely to increase.
"The use of celebrities goes in waves. Although there has been a decline in the past five years, we would expect this to increase as media fragmentation and advertising clutter forces advertisers to look for new ways to hold the attention of customers," he said.
Celebrities do not always work in advertising, but when the right spokesperson is chosen the results can be highly effective. The research cites spots featuring Jamie Oliver, Jennifer Aniston and Gary Lineker as being among those that work well.
Oliver's work for Sainsbury's is one of the most notable. Not least in recent weeks when his ads featuring asparagus caused a major supermarket shortage after boosting sales of the vegetable by nearly 300%.
Overall, he is estimated to have added £1.12bn in revenue to Sainsbury's bottom line.
The research also highlights how Walkers Crisps subverted Lineker's Mr Nice Guy image in a humorous way and won over consumers.
Another example it mentions is Bartle Bogle Hegarty's "dream date" ad for Lynx in 1997 starring the emerging 'Friends' star Jennifer Aniston as an adolescent's girlfriend begging him not to go out, which used celebrity in a unique, tongue-in-cheek way.
"Lynx got it right with the use of Jennifer Aniston. She reinforced the brand fantasy in a positive and original way," Walshe added.
Even the "irritating" Michael Winner Esure insurance ads prompted brand awareness to rise from 43% to 72%, although he has since been sidelined in its advertising in favour of an animated mouse.
The report warns it can easily go wrong if celebrities are not matched properly to the brands.
In 1993, 'Fight Club' actress Helena Bonham Carter was chosen as the face of Yardley cosmetics, but later declared that she does not wear make-up.
Similarly, Britney Spears was photographed on several occasions drinking rival products while representing Pepsi.
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