A recent Ad Age article re-affirmed a somewhat surprising fact; that celebrity endorsements still represent a powerful marketing tool for most brands. Despite all of the risks associated with celebrities behaving badly, Tiger Woods being just the most breathtaking example, the tactic has proven over time to consistently drive not just brand awareness and affinity, but even stock prices for certain companies whose products are well-aligned with the right celebrities.
With the rise of Social Media and the spectacular speed of today’s news cycles however, the practice has become even more dicey. Brand managers have to be wary of the celebrities tweeting unfiltered musings that are just a little too candid. They also know that if photos of their prized pitchmen surface, with them, say, sporting a competitor’s product, then those photos will rocket around the world within seconds — creating a firestorm of trouble that may take months to recover from.
After so many horror stories, I suspect that most brands will do fine if their paid celebrity endorser behaves in a way that is inconsistent with their brand values and violates their contractual obligations. Typically, there will be a contingency plan in place and the PR departments will spring into action to execute that plan. But what about when the celebrity endorsement is unsolicited? That represents a bigger challenge[...]