(Metue Celebrity Endorsement Lists are now live on the site. Read the article below or follow the links at the bottom of this article for more information)
You can’t legally download a Beatles song online yet but you can hear “All You Need is Love” play on TV in support of Luvs diaper sales. Put off by that? Change the channel but beware, across the channels, TV and radio, famed songs, and new releases from Janis Joplin (Mercedes) to Queen (Bohemian Rhapsody) to John Mellencamp (Our Country) all play in marketing campaigns. The song Our Country even debuted in advertising months before it was available as a single.
We live in Billboard Nation; a consumer culture. Celebrities looking to stay in the public eye can do it by selling products. They can market themselves and get paid to do it at the same time. Popular songs can be soundtracks to a sale. Turn on the TV and that voice selling cars may be one you know (Kevin Spacey, Gary Sinese). Similarly open a magazine and chances are you’ll see a recognizable face on the pages promoting a product. The guitar riff in a commercial? Not necessarily a jingle.
In Lost in Translation, Bill Murray played a down and out actor who made fun of it toasting “It’s Suntory Time” but marketers will tell you popularity has become the sales pitch and the right spokes model can make or break a campaign. It isn’t just sports stars selling sports drinks or models and beautiful people selling beauty products anymore. It’s a new frontier: celebritizing.
Take Dennis Haysbert, he may not be a household name but he played a president on TV’s 24 and people recognize him for that role. So now marketers have tapped him to sound presidential selling insurance. Consider Julia Roberts. She has a voice we all know, America’s sweetheart. Her voice has been in our living rooms for years. It’s a tone and timber we know and trust even when we don’t immediately recognize it – and that familiar voice is the voice of American Online. Another example: Sam Waterston, a beacon of integrity as the assistant District Attorney on Law and Order. On the side, he lends that same presumed integrity to TD Waterhouse and investment sales.
In front of the camera, over the airwaves, the lists are long. The associations we have with a face and the familiarity of a voice, all play into marketer’s decisions. They’re part of the arsenal used to capture our dollars and attention. There are even scientific tracking services that monitor celebrity credibility and reputation (The Davie Brown Index). If I wanted to sell financial advice, for example, I could turn to such a database and look for someone credible, someone we associate with safe or honest. If I wanted to hype a new energy drink I could ask “who’s reputation is young and wild?” Who appeals to my demographic? Sports drink to party all night long: Is Paris Hilton available?
Part guilty pleasure, part curiosity, I’ve started keeping track of who’s been selling what. The result of that effort is a new watchlist for Metue called the “Endorsement Sheet: a Celebritizing Tracker” which is launching today.
The tables provide several pages tracking celebrity endorsements. As with tables on the Metue Company Watchlists, the pages of the Endorsement Sheet can be sorted like a spreadsheet. Click the top row of a column and it will sort by that column.
Curious? Want to know who’s doing that voice-over? Who’s face you saw in that magazine? Have a look. …
The list is large but it’s also far from complete. Suggestions are welcome if you know of someone I’ve missed. Go to the Contact Page and feel free to offer suggestions or items to add.
To the lists: