Did you know?
Dwayne Johnson is currently the highest-paid actor on Forbes’ annual list. Johnson’s deal with Under Armour came in at the top with a perfect score. The star’s shoe line with the athletic apparel brand sold out in just 30 minutes when released.
Similarly, beyond actors, there are athletes, politicians, businessmen, and other public figures enhancing the products. They endorse and increase their sales. Advertisers believe that endorsements work because celebrities gain attention from otherwise distracted or uninterested viewers. They then transfer their positive feelings for the celebrity to the brand. But the same celebrity can also be a vampire for a product.
The chase for reaching an audience is becoming more complex. Getting people to sit down to hear a message is challenging. Even when the message is delivered, it is hard to ensure that the receiver understands it in the intended spirit. Being exposed to too many advertisements, we create our own filters to deal with the overload of information.
One such easy stimulus is the use of celebrities in capturing the viewer’s attention.
Hiring celebrities as the brand manager can gain significant heed. But it can also overshadow the brand and thus impair brand recall. This is the Vampire effect. This effect occurs when certain things in the advertisement take focus away from the actual product. There are many ways this can happen.
How does this overshadowing happen?
Reports state that 20% of all television commercials feature a famous person. When a character has been associated with a brand for a while, the consumers will know what product the advertisement is for when they see the character. In other words, when a vampire is there, the product is often forgotten about. It is commonly thought that the use of vampires and their sex appeal would raise the number of customers for the product. Unfortunately, most times it has the opposite effect of what the creator meant to do. The actual product can be overtaken by sex appeal, celebrities, or even the designs that were included in the advertisement.
The research found that a significantly higher risk of creating a vampire effect exists when using an unrelated celebrity as an attention-getting device than when using a related celebrity or no celebrity at all.
Similarly, sex appeal in advertising is viewed as an effective strategy to attract attention to the brand. But can sexual stimuli interfere with the effectiveness of an ad?
People exposed to ads with beautiful bodies and sexy poses get numb. Zombies!
“Society drives people crazy with lust and calls it advertising” -John Lahr
But this doesn’t always have to be true. There are a number of other factors which affect brand recognition. To name a few, the design of the ad itself, the placement of the logo, brand awareness, the times the viewer is exposed to an ad, and so forth.
Star presence at what cost?
This is not to run down celebrity advertising.
Celebrity advertising with its standout value certainly gets attention. It is possible and even strongly liked. But does it really leave behind the key brand message?
Taj Mahal tea is another successful example. Using Zakir Hussain’s Maestro status to position the brand as the very best tea in India-one that is part of a true connoisseurs lifestyle. However, the successes are few. But how does using celebrities for sheer attention reflect on the brand? For instance, Ajay Jadeja endorsing a toothpaste-does this really build brands? Cricket stars used often for energy drinks or sports goods seems rational. But their endorsing engine oil makes one wonder.
The star presence and charisma are all-pervasive. This is where the vampire effect of the celebrity comes in. The brand becomes a runner-up while the celebrity hogs the limelight. If the celebrity is not central to the brand message, then a moment of the consumer’s attention will cost dearly. A hole in the pocket now and erosion of brand equity later.
Prevent the vampire suck away the product
The implications of the vampire effect are clear. Marketers must balance the perks of celebrity endorsements with the potential downsides of being overshadowed. The best way to prevent the vampire effect from happening is to pick the right celebrity any endorser. Somebody who connects to the product and the brand.
The brand-endorser relationship is very important to get the audience to understand the message delivered. This brand-endorser relationship helps to develop a cognitive link in the customer’s mind. It not only gets the message out properly but also creates a strong brand familiarity amongst the customers. Once a good brand familiarity is developed, the recall value instantaneously rises. Therefore, a high endorser-brand similarity and the ability to set a cognitive link in the customer’s mind are the two key elements to avert the vampire effect.