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The Fragile State of Celebrity Endorsements
By: Alexander Villeneuve
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Marketing professionals should be taking note of just how fragile the celebrity endorsement strategy can be.  Sure, defenders of celebrity endorsement will always be quick to remind the world what Michael Jordan did for Nike, but more and more, Nike is looking like the exception and not the rule and marketers should be skeptical of the practice.

Lebron James provides all the evidence one would need.  Last night, James made his return to Cleveland to play the team he so publicly abandoned over the summer.  Instantly, his public persona changed; transforming from a fun-loving, freakishly talented basketball player to egomaniac villain with a propensity for quitting.  People questioned his integrity, wondering how long he knew about the move and why didn't he tell his former teammates.  Consequently, as Mr. James' public persona was altered, so were the attitudes towards the brands he represents.  Suddenly, the greatness he once personified could no longer be magically reflected upon vitamin-laced waters or auto insurers.  What ever happened to that deep connection between the celebrity and the brand represented?  If it can be replaced that easily, one should question its real value in the first place.       

Furthermore, the Kardashian sisters recently demonstrated how little of a connection can exist between celebrities and the brands they represent. With negativity swirling about the "predatory" fees tied to the Kardashian-branded prepaid MasterCard debit card, the sisters shiftily dumped their partner, the University National Bank of Minnesota.  While the Kardashians mostly walk away unscathed with their teen-friendly image intact, a reasonable adult should ask to what level will they take shameless self-promotion.  A bit like Donald Trump, is there anything they won't put their name on?  Or are the endorsements and product pitches the only reason for their fame today?  
Clearly, a celebrity-based marketing strategy is fragile at best.  Even if the suggested qualities of an endorser can be transferred to a brand, the fact that they can be replaced in a moment's notice doesn't speak well of a their real value to a brand. 

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About the Author

Alexander Villeneuve loves to hear from readers. It makes him feel important, so please contact him on Twitter or his blog.

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