How celebrity endorsements in advertising has evolved over the past 30 years

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Thesis Statement:

Celebrity appearances in advertisements have evolved massively throughout the years.


Celebrity appearances in advertisements are a prevalent theme found in many countries that is used to attract consumers. 

(A.1) It has been estimated that the instantaneous purchase of consumers towards a particular product that has been promoted by a celebrity is dependent on three factors: product attributes, price considerations, the attributed performance of the celebrity.

(A.2) The theme of celebrity advertisements is prevalent throughout the globe as 30% of the advertisements published in Western countries, 60% of the advertisements published in Asian countries, and around 25% of the advertisements published on TVs in the US.

(A.3) Magnini et al. (2010) proposed a new construct called celebrity power. Sometimes celebrity power can be so strong that it is the only selection criterion for an endorser. According to Magnini et al. (2010), celebrity power is most likely associated with physical attractiveness, but future research is needed to understand this concept. But it has been understood that celebrities possess inherent news value caused by their celebrity status (Corbett and Mori 1999)


It is important to point out the massive changes this theme has seen through time.

(B.1) it has been proved that celebrity endorsement is most widely used marketing tool that can become the leverage to create the brand awareness in the mind of consumers, build up the brand image and enhance the brand favorability level in the consumer’s world.

(B.2) In the 1950s, every type of product was endorsed by celebrities. At times, the celebrities accepted non-monetary payments such as chocolates for doing a chocolate commercial, unlike in today’s era, where Brad Pitt earned about $4 million for a single Super Bowl advertisement.

In the 1960s, the advent of television led to a drastic increase in the advertisement budget. For instance, the advertising agency J. Walter Thompson Co. saw its budget grow from $78 million in 1945 to $173 million in 1955 and $250 million in 1960.

In 1970s a more systematic approach was followed. The Cola Wars took place that were the allure for celebrities

The 1980s was all about were predominantly about monetary and capitalistic gains. Unparalleled mergers of advertising agencies created large scale international reach for brands, while brands were also acquired in major deals. All this money brought celebrities on the get-go in the form of huge sponsorship deals. For example, Pepsi launched its campaign featuring Michael Jackson: He signed two separate deals with Pepsi in the 1980s, amounting to more than $20 million and fully cooperating with the Pepsi brand into the MJ brand. “It was game-changing,” said Brian Murphy, Executive VP of Branded Entertainment. “You couldn’t separate the tour from the endorsement from the licensing of the music, and then the integration of the music into the Pepsi fabric. If you pulled any one of those pieces apart, it really took away from what the campaign was all about.” It was the starting of the star driving the campaign in a way that had never been witnessed before.

The 1990s is known to be a time of fragmentation in the market of buyers, because of the growing force of immigrant and minority communities and the opportunities that new technologies brought about to marketers. By the 1990s, two thirds of the hundred largest advertisers had newfound ownership. Ad Age termed it “the decade of the deal” with good reason. A more widespread and diverse consumer base resulted in niche markets and focused campaigns. At the same time, agencies are looking to harbor trust, and more complex deals integrated marketing communications services into their deals to advertisers. Diverse campaigns offering promotions, PR, and online advertising, created a platform for the vast brand ambassador roles that would expand throughout the next 20 years.

(B.3) The symbiotic relationship between star, brand, and marketing campaign has some of its roots in the world of hip hop. It wasn’t just Mr. Clooney working his magic overseas. Many A-listers regularly represented brands in Europe and Asia in the early 2000s, including Angelina Jolie and Leonard DiCaprio. These endorsements were very lucrative for them and their brands internationally. It remains relatively uncommon, however, for stars of a certain stature to do television commercials in America.

With the arrival of social media and its role as an advertising game-changer, differentiating between influencer marketing and celebrity endorsements is a complex business. Print ads feature many top celebrities. Thus, in the 2010s, the goal was to make the brand interesting and relevant for the youth. The campaign featuring Isaiah Mustafa became hugely successful and set the bar high for other campaigns to follow. The 30-second advertisement starring Isaiah Mustafa was aired a few days before the Super Bowl and also the day after the game was played. Due to its appeal and humor, it quickly went viral. This was one of the most successful campaigns in the history of influencer marketing.


Some important patterns have been traced in the theme of celebrity appearances in advertisements.

(C.1) Millennials often trust influencers. They consider peers and thought leaders more than celebrities. Hence, with all the social media getting prevalent, a celebrity can post about a brand or charity, and his/her fans will see the message instantly. Celebrity endorsements are used to increase brand awareness and recall (Dhotre&Bhola, 2010).

(C.2) Erdogan summarizes the benefits and advantages of celebrity use as increased attention, image polishing, brand introduction, and brand repositioning, and underpinning global campaigns.

(C.3) US marketing research suggests that Generation Z teens (born 1995–2010) and Millennials (born 1981–1994), men or Black or African Americans are more likely to be influenced by celebrities with whom they share similar demographic characteristics.


Today’s celebrity involvement in advertisements is quite different from that of in the past.

(D.1) Today, advertising appearances by movie stars can also be lucrative, earning for some as much as $10 million in one year (Schiller 2006; Stone, Joseph and Jones 2003)

(D.2) Once a celebrity endorsement grabs their attention, consumers are assumed to become more interested in the advertised object as compared with a non-endorsed or other-endorsed object. This is due to the fact that celebrities possess inherent news value caused by their celebrity status (Corbett and Mori 1999). As a result, object recall and recognition is assumed to be enhanced due to greater message elaboration (*Petty et al. 1983).

(D.3) Some advertisers sought out those athletes with a higher potential to become bad boys; some thought they worked better. Reporter Peter Newcomb mentioned 20-year-old tennis star Andre Agassi and all his temper tantrums. “America loves a guy who can make big bucks and then thumb his nose at the world,” said sports psychologist William Beausay. “Society has changed over the last 30 years. We went from a society where people had respect for one another to where the primary concern is for oneself.” in Advertising: A Social History






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