Celebrity endorsement is a key to market success. It increases the sales and studies have proven that high-profile endorsements from athletes and celebrities will give an advantage over the competitors. Famous tennis player and Wimbledon championship winner in 2002 Venus Williams, for example, has signed a five-year $40 million contract with sportswear manufacturer Reebok International Inc. Studies provide enough proof that the use of Hollywood and sports stars in advertising generates a lot of publicity and attention from the public. Such an endorsement strategy enables advertisers to project a credible image in terms of expertise, persuasiveness, trustworthiness, and objectiveness. Though on one hand, the ads create awareness about the product among the general public, the celebrities capture the attention of the people.
There are several dangers associated with celebrity endorsement. For instance, if a person happens to see one of his favorite hero campaigns for a car, studies have shown that the person is most likely to take interest in knowing more about the car. Car is a good commodity, there are several other commodities such as some of the high-calorie junk foods, drinks and other items which when celebrity-endorsed can be downright dangerous, particularly when they target children or involve products that have the potential to cause you harm. As a result of such ads and also many other reasons, serious health problems such as obesity, cancers, heart diseases are at risk all over the world. Dangers are still high when celebrities endorse some of the drugs used to cure chronic illnesses and take the position of doctors. It is important to have a serious check-in such activities and regulate the ad agencies through stringent regulations.
A reference group is “one or more people that someone uses as a basis for comparison or point of reference in forming affective and cognitive responses and performing behaviors.” In other words, a reference group is a sociological concept particularly used to evaluate and determine the nature of a given individual or other group’s characteristics and sociological attributes. Reference groups provide the benchmarks and contrast required for comparison and evaluation of a group or personal characteristics.
In the field of advertisement, a reference-group appeal influences or controls a consumer’s actions, values and behavior. Thereby influencing him/her to follow the group’s norms and trends. A good example of a reference group is the advertisement of Charms cigarette of yesteryear and Pepsi are reference group-based emotional contrast. Fun, play and romance are some of the oft-used emotional bases for such appeals. It is important to note that marketers need to be careful to avoid any misleading information while using such reference group appeals, and it is in this context that creative synthesis of emotional contrast establishes effective communication with the target group. Hence, it can be concluded that reference groups have a high influence on brand choice in some situations. In addition, those products that have little to no distinguishable advantages over competitive products, with the understanding of reference group influences can be leveraged to separate their product from the pack and create a demand in the market.