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"Real" People vs. Celebrity Spokespeople

Guest Blogger

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I read with interest this Forbes story today about how major global organizations such as Marriott, Dell, and American Express have decided to use "real" people in their ad campaigns. The headline reads:

In These Ads, Customers Are The Celebrities

Real people make effective pitchfolk at a time when big businesses aren’t trusted.

And I had to smile. Because using "real" people (as opposed to actors, celebrities, or professional sports figures) in campaigns is something we’ve been counseling our clients to do for years. Certainly pharma has had its share of celebrity spokespeople, with mixed results. The Rock, Jack Mackenroth,, LeAnn Rimes, Wynonna Judd, Ty Pennington, Tim Gunn, and Michael Welch are just a few of the most recent pharma spokespeople that come to mind. And if Pfizer’s Dr. Jarvis qualifies as a celebrity — well -we all know how that ended up. There will always be people (media especially) that would rather glom onto a story about a celebrity than the "boring consumer-next-door" John Doe. And celebrity spokespeople will probably always have a place in pharmaceutical marketing, especially cause-related marketing. But most people would rather hear from people like them, and market research reinforces that time and again. Also from the Forbes article:

These apparently aren’t the times for slick models or celebrity pitch-people.

It’s a little ironic that major corporations with trust issues are — dare we say — taking a cue from pharma marketing . But it’s also a nice reinforcement that pharma is doing something right.

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