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Spokespeople Matter! Why You Should Choose Your Advocates Wisely

Spokespeople matter! It may seem trivial at times, but it really does make a difference who’s hawking your product. I’ll give you an example from my own experiences.

I got fat. Okay, not that fat, but fatter than I’m used to, for sure. Most people say they can’t even tell, but I can, and I reached the point where my shorts didn’t button anymore. I’m pretty sure that’s case closed. I’m not one to sit idly by and not act on something I’m unhappy about, so that meant it was diet time.

Charles Barkley does Weight Watchers? Cool!

Charles Barkley does Weight Watchers? Cool!

After talking with some coworkers, I chose Weight Watchers. Seeing as that every single person I know who has taken part in WW is of the female persuasion, I was sure some of my male friends would mock me. Instead, what I heard was, “Oh, Charles Barkley is doing that. Cool!”

EPIPHANY!

At first, I was just glad I picked now to gain some weight instead of when Queen Latifah was the spokeswoman! But then, I started thinking about how just that simple move by Weight Watchers led to an entire shift of opinion about the service by a lot of people.

It’s not every day that such dynamic shifts happen, but here are some other spokespeople that — for better or worse — have made an impact:

  • Michael Jordan (Nike, Gatorade, Hanes, etc.) – One of the most successful endorsers ever. His economic impact is measured in the billions. Michael Jordan still has the highest consumer rating (Q-rating) for any sports player, active or retired.
  • Carly Foulkes (T-Mobile girl) – A favorite (to hate, by some) around these parts, there’s no denying that she has helped make T-Mobile a household name. The fact that they kept her despite their new shift towards an edgier image shows she’s not going away anytime soon.
  • Ellen DeGeneres (JC Penney) – Many were taken aback by this partnership, and a few were put off. But she’s helped usher in a new era for the company that so far has had overall great results.
  • Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, Michael Vick – Whoops! One-time sure things and some of the most popular athletes in the world, the words of this trio don’t exactly inspire much confidence anymore. And the endorsements they lost due to their respective scandals would prove it.
  • Dennis Haysbert and Dean Winters (Allstate) – A double success story! At opposite ends of the spectrum, “Mayhem” (Dean Winters) and a reassuring voice (Dennis Haysbert) show that some companies just know how to make an impact.

This list could go on forever; these are just a few notable examples. It doesn’t seem that getting any celebrity to pitch your product is going to do you any favors (J.Lo, anyone? Alex nods in approval). It’s more important to select the right person, celebrity or not. Overall, you should scout for spokespeople who best reflect your brand’s goals and personality, whether you find that person within your own company or through a talent agency. It would be detrimental to your campaign otherwise.

As Allstate and T-Mobile have shown, you don’t need a household name to get the reaction you’re looking for. You only need some creativity.

Can you think of any other brand spokespeople who have changed opinions of a company, for better or worse? Which brand advocates are your favorites?

Image credit to Gallery 2 Images and Clipart.com.


Jeff Porretto

Recently dethroned as the shortest member of the blogsquad, Jeff considers himself to be an artist in all facets of life. Be it playing or building guitars, writing blogs with scathing dry wit, or simply finding new ways to be productive, creativity is a central focus of his day. More than anything, Jeff likes to spend time at home with his wife and 2 dogs quietly enjoying their time together. As with many other members of the blog squad, Jeff is fascinated by the latest and greatest technologies. He is also a self-professed Air Jordan addict and is willing to talk about shoes at any time. You can connect with Jeff on Google+.

Comments

  1. Eric

    Those “Mayhem” commercials never fail to crack me up. The one where he plays a raccoon rummaging through someone’s attic? Easily my favorite. They’re funny, they’re memorable, and strangely enough…they all make good points in telling a cautionary tale. I’m sure Dean Winters never imagined those commercials would go as far as they have. At least he’s highly amusing. The T Mobile girl? Only so many times you can bite-and-smile your way through selling something..and worse yet, she’s Canadian. “Mayhem” definitely gets my vote on this one!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Seconded. Mayhem is excellent, memorable, and so funny.

      The T-Mobile Girl is still the worst. The only thing her “rebrand” has taught us is that she can ride a motorcycle.

    • Kelsey

      My brother-in-law’s brother wrote that raccoon commercial of which you speak!

    • Rachel

      I think my favorite Mayhem ad is the one where he’s the non-updated GPS and yells “RECALCULATING!” from time to time, haha. Love those commercials!

      • Jeff Porretto

        I think the unstable teenage girl is my personal favorite. Come to think of it, that might be the first one…

    • Jen

      I like the Mayhem commercial when he’s a blind spot. It’s so simple, yet so funny, he’s just hanging on the side of an SUV blocking the view for the driver. I find them very clever!

  2. Joseph Giorgi

    Favorite spokesperson:

    Serenity Morris (for Quality Logo Products)

  3. Amy Swanson

    I’m not a fan of Carly Foulkes (T-Mobile girl), never have been and never will be. She just seems so fake in the commercials, and it just seems like the only reason she was chosen is because she’s beautiful and skinny. I relate more to “real” women, not women who are always in pink cotton dresses or skin tight jumpsuits.

    I love, love, love Dean Winters though! He actually has acting talent – which is kind of needed in commercials ;)

    Alright, I’m done with digs towards the T-Mobile chick. Great post though, Jeff! A very interesting idea for marketers & advertisers to take into account.

    • Jeff Porretto

      For the life of me I can’t understand the hate towards the T-Mobile girl. Is there any role for a spokesperson other than to be charming and easily identifiable? Aren’t there countless companies that just WISH they could have an as successful ad campaign? Agree to disagree I guess…

  4. Kelsey

    I like that you stated not needing to already have some kind of fame to be a good spokesperson. In reading all of the comments on this post, I noticed that it’s not even the celebrities that really leave a lasting impression on us when it comes to being a spokesperson. We all know these people from commercials as the “T-Mobile girl”, “Mayhem”, the “All-State guy”. When you see these people, you instantly think of the company and their commercial. When you look at people like Ellen DeGeneres, (maybe this is just me..) but I don’t instantly think of JC Penney. I think it’s actually a better idea to NOT have a celebrity. It’s kind of funny how that works, isn’t it?

    • Jeff Porretto

      That’s a great point! Many studies have shown that hiring celebs is almost always a “miss” and rarely a “hit,” as far as a boost to revenue compared to the celebs payment. Makes you stop and think why they keep doing it then!!

  5. Jenna Markowski

    What a smart move on Weight Watchers’ part to use a male athlete as a means of removing the stereotype that their weight-loss program is only for women! As for other spokespeople, I’m a big fan of commercials with Michael Jordan in them — it’s awesome and interesting that he’s still making commercials even after all this time. Dennis Haysbert on the other hand, as everyone here at QLP knows, terrifies me!

    Very interesting post, Jeff. Just goes to show that companies must be very careful when selecting their spokespeople!

    • Jeff Porretto

      I know aaaalll about you and Mr. Haysbert, but I could not find anyone to 2nd your fears, so I just chalked it up to Jenna being Jenna =] I like the guy!

      Also, MJ = awesome. MJ with hitler mustache in hanes commercials = NOT awesome. I wasn’t even sure what they were selling because I was so distracted:

  6. Jana Quinn

    Spokespeople are one of those things that – like everyone else – I pretend has zero influence on what I buy, but almost certainly does. I can definitely see something like putting Charles Barkley as a spokesperson for an industry that has been generally female-targeted causing a significant shift in demographics. I think it’ll be hard to shift to a 50/50 split and almost certainly impossible to shift to a male dominated consumer base, but having a man assure another man that something is indeed manly can alleviate concerns of being perceived as feminine.

    Whether that’s a good or bad thing is another rant for another day, but it certainly seems to be a good financial/business move.

  7. Eric

    I think one of the strongest inadvertent spokespersons would be the fictional character of James Bond. After “Casino Royale” came out, guys started strolling into stores asking for tuxes with the same cut, braces, and bow tie he had on. Connery, though, was a serious one. From the liquor he drank, to the guns he shot, the cars he drove…and the clothes he wore, he was a HUGE spokesperson. I always laugh at that one scene from “Catch Me If You Can,” when DiCaprio’s character goes out to get himself the fanciest possible suit, and buys the EXACT some one Connery wore in “Goldfinger” (that Daniel Craig actually wore for the closing shot of “Casino Royale”…what what, full circle?).

    To make things interesting, I’m more influenced by films and Television and the fictional characters from them than I am by actual, living, breathing celebrities.

    Hell, look at what “Mad Men” did for fashion. Tremedous influence.

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