Monday, March 1, 2010

36 Questions: Why do celebrity endorsers work?

A certain golfer has put this issue a little bit in the spotlight lately. But, my question applies to Red Sox endorsers as well. Why do they work?

I can understand when Red Sox players endorse baseball equipment. If Kevin Youkilis uses a certain brand of batting glove, I can assume that it’s a decent batting glove. In reality, it’s probably the glove that offered Youk the most money…but work with me. The same goes for a bat, or cleat, or sunglasses. They use this stuff for a living, and probably know what makes a good one. If an accountant were endorsing a specific pencil, I’d listen to him too. There are even a few things that are just outside their area of expertise that I might go along with. If a Red Sox player endorsed a hotel chain, perhaps. I can assume that they spend a lot of time in hotels, and know what they’re talking about. Or a restaurant. They eat out all the time. If this is the best they’ve found, that’s probably a good idea. Although, in those cases their opinion may not apply to me. I don’t care what the room service is like in the penthouse of the Four Seasons. It doesn’t help me if a certain restaurant has a private dining room. But, in general, I would value a Red Sox player’s opinion on those types of products.

It’s the other stuff I don’t gat. Shaving cream? Delivery services? Coffee? Video games? Why would I care what a Red Sox player thought about any of those products? They might make entertaining commercials. The Dustin Pedroia commercials from EA Sports are great. I laugh every time I see them. But, does Dustin’s “endorsement” mean anything? Does he know what makes a good video game? Maybe. Maybe not. Johnny Damon did a clever spot a few years ago for DHL. Again, it was a cute commercial. But, does Johnny Damon have any inside information into the package delivery industry? Does he even send out any packages? Why do I care what he thinks?

So, why do celebrity endorsements work? Is it just name recognition? Is it just the fact that I remembered the name DHL after 4 years because of Johnny Damon? (I still ship all my stuff USPS, so it didn’t work. But, I guess I remembered the name.) Why does a player standing next to a product make me want to buy it?

It’s not like I’m a NASCAR fan.

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