Now I don’t particularly want to go into what Oscar Pistorius, Lance Armstrong, Michael Phelps, and Tiger Woods (just to name a few) did because we all have read and heard enough of this in the news. But I do want to get into the underlying issue. How do we as people, as consumers put so much faith in athletes or celebrities that a brand has placed on a throne for all to see and admire, when in actuality there are just as human as the rest of us? They all have their own faults, weaknesses, and pressures. But we like to view athletes and celebrities as more; as someone to look up to, someone who can inspire us to be more than what we are and someone who we want to be growing up as a kid. We don’t want to know their faults or their failures. We only want to hear about their triumphs and successes.
As we grow up and with a lot of help from the new media, we become more enlightened and educated to their negative behaviour, but it still doesn’t stop the public’s idealization of these so called iconic figures that so many brands have labelled, so many times. However, for those athletes and celebrities that have overcome remarkable odds do have a profound impact on the lives of others as they touch the hearts of millions. Shouldn’t we not hold them higher standard? So when they fall from grace, their fall is that much higher.
The phrase that I have found that best describes the celebrity spokesperson is “Borrowed Equity”. When a celebrity wears a Product A or uses a Service B, maybe the consumers will purchase it too. But as you can decipher from the term-borrowed equity; it is just that--it is borrowed. For as long as they are successful, impactful, and relevant, they will be able to influence consumers. When a company and their marketing and advertising departments get together and decide to attach themselves to a celebrity or athlete, they are in most cases now held hostage by that person’s image because it is supposed to reflect the image of that brand. It holds true when you think of Michael Jordan you think of Jordan, Sidney Cosby-Reebok, Payton Manning-Papa John’s, “Mean” Joe Greene-Coke and Lance Armstrong you think Live Strong. All of these celebrity athletes and the brands that have attached themselves to them all have the same characteristics, but you now when you read that list your image towards one brand and athlete has changed dramatically.
It is not because the view of that company/brand has change; it is solely based on the actions of one and is now his/her image is being placed beside that brand. How long it takes a brand to recover from the tarnished reputation of their spokesperson is purely based of how iconic the figure was. Now you won’t see Tom Brady endorsing beauty, but if he endorses a new Under Amour clothing line, you may consider it. The goal for companies is to obtain maximum exposure and celebrity endorsements are just that and the same goes for the celebrities. We cannot forget the goal for both parties and it is to gain exposure and increase sales. When these symbolic figure heads fall, we should not forget what they are a symbol our expectation put forth by the brands that employ them