Celebrity endorsement is not the same as influencer marketing. Big budgets don’t guarantee trust. Connecting with the right people builds trust.
Being popular isn't the same thing as being influential. Mickey Mouse is popular. Katy Perry is popular. But you wouldn't think to turn to Mickey or Katy to influence your decision to buy a new fridge, a new car, or to choose between pension providers.
Influencers are change agents; purchase catalysts. They cause, effect or change things. They alter our actions, or our thinking, or both. And that ability to influence behaviour change is founded in context.
Celebrities often have no affinity with the brand
Celebrity endorsement isn’t the same as influencer marketing. With celebrity endorsement the celebrity lends their fame to a brand or product. The celebrity often has no affinity or expertise with the product. Communication is one way. Celebs just pump out content. They don’t interact with their following. It’s the old broadcast model of communications.
David Ogilvy, founder of Ogilvy & Mather, and often considered the father of advertising recalls a sobering experience which pulls the downside of celebrity endorsement into sharp focus: "Viewers have a way of remembering the celebrity while forgetting the product. I did not know this when I paid Eleanor Roosevelt $35,000 to make a commercial for margarine. She reported that her mail was equally divided. 'One half was sad because I had damaged my reputation. The other half was happy because I had damaged my reputation.' Not one of my proudest memories."
Viewers have a way of remembering the celebrity while forgetting the product. I did not know this when I paid Eleanor Roosevelt $35,000 to make a commercial for margarine. She reported that her mail was equally divided. 'One half was sad because I had damaged my reputation. The other half was happy because I had damaged my reputation.' Not one of my proudest memories.
With influencer marketing, influencers are influential because they consistently create compelling content that is relevant and resonates with their select audience. They keep listening to and responding to the needs of their following. Influencers nurture their audiences by engaging with them and answering their questions. The relationship between follower and influencer is accretive. It strengthens and develops over time.
As consumers we’re moved to action by credible recommendations based on first-hand experiences. We turn to an influencer’s experience to form our evidence.
Celebrity as conduit versus influencer as creator
Celebrity endorsement is usually heavily scripted. The brand conceives, produces, and distributes the content. As consumers we know the message is the brand’s message. It’s merely relayed to us via the conduit of the celebrity.
Increasingly within influencer marketing the creator … creates. For the brand the work is front loaded. The brand produces a creative brief and allows the influencer freedom to know what content will work best with her audience.This freedom only follows once the brand has done its digital due diligence on the prospect influencer. This is the screen phase of the influencer identification 4S Filter.
I’ve written before about how brands gain better influencer marketing results when they relinquish control to the influencer. This isn’t to say that celebrity endorsement doesn’t work. Selecting the appropriate approach depends on what your communications and business objectives are. Celebrity endorsement can work well at the upper edges of the conversion funnel. Building brand or product awareness.
Influencer marketing will assist far more at the consideration stage. Helping us decide. Informing us about the ‘right’ decision. Here an influencer’s experience becomes our evidence.
Increasingly, as consumers, our decision-making processes are shaped by people who are credible and relevant to the problem we're trying to solve - or opportunity we're trying to grasp. Being popular isn't the same as being influential. That's down to credibility and context. Facets usually found in influencers not celebrities.