Image Source: Master New Media

With the high rate of celebrity endorsements these days, it is safe to assume that advertising agencies in Nigeria seem to believe that brand communication messages delivered by celebrities and famous personalities generate a higher appeal, attention and recall, than those executed by non-celebrities. Indeed, the quick message-reach and impact are all too essential in today’s media space/reach considering the revolution of social media.

The importance of a celebrity-brand match and the various roles played by them as brand ambassadors show the momentum this strategy has gained in the last three years. This is perhaps because just like other countries, Nigeria is a country where people are star-struck by film stars, musicians, comedians and sports personalities.

With a diverse population of over 170 million residents, everyday-people need something or someone to look up to. A sense of security, admiration, comfort, familiarity, and above all, someone they aspire to be at some hidden level in their lives. A clever advertising agency leverages this very celebrity appeal and successfully carries out their job by giving the brands what they want - profit, market share and even recall.  But the question is, how much do these brands leverage on the ambassadors’ star power in order to push their brand?

A brand should be cautious when employing celebrities to ensure promise believability and delivery of the intended effect. The most important thing to remember is that putting a celebrity in an ad is not an idea in itself. Unfortunately, this is how most celebrities are being used in advertising, where they just become a prop. Ideally, there should be an idea that makes the celebrity relevant to the product and the consumer. A celebrity’s presence in the ad should be contextual.

For instance, Promasidor Nigeria Limited last year announced Nigeria’s celebrity music producer and entertainment entrepreneur, Michael Collins Ajereh popularly known as ‘Don Jazzy,’ as its brand ambassador. Yours truly wasn’t impressed at all by that news because as far as I am concerned, there is no synergy between the brand and its ambassador. While the brand is targeted at the general public with emphasis on the family, Don Jazzy is a ‘hippy’ personality who only appeals to the youths with little or no buying power or time, as they are pre-occupied with other activities. The few of them who do have time to patronize this product already grew up with older brands like Peak milk and Cowbell milk already entrenched in their sub-consciousness. Maybe a Julius Agwu, Sunny Nneji or Joke Silva would have been ideal.

Celebrity endorsement cannot guarantee fool-proof success. The celebrity endorsement strategy must be integrated with target market characteristics, and the other elements of the marketing mix such as product design, branding, packaging, and pricing. The fact to be emphasized is that celebrities alone do not guarantee success, as consumers nowadays understand advertising. They know what advertising is and how it works. People realize that celebrities are being paid a lot of money for endorsements and this knowledge makes them think twice about celebrity endorsements.