Author Archives: Ryan Jones

Endorsements and authenticity

Slightly technical, but compelling research from Nielsen’s ratings regarding celebrity endorsements and advertisements.

Rethinking Celebrity Endorsements: Authenticity And Fit Are Key

While consumers are influenced by celebrities, they are also savvy enough to know when things are out of sync and an endorsement isn’t authentic.  Our research has shown that authenticity is most important among the very desirable youth market (ages 12-29).  Being able to tell whether the individual is a good fit for the proposed endorsement is an important piece of the puzzle to consider, before talking details of a deal, not after.  Fit can be measured in many ways – does the individual resonate with the target audience?  Do they reflect the attributes that brand is trying to present? Do consumers think they are a good fit for the category or brand?  Do consumers think the celebrity even uses the product they are endorsing?

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Although Liam Neeson tops the N-Score rankings, if a deeper layer of research is applied, one that includes data on his purchase influence and social media footprint, the results are likely to be quite different.  According to Fanatomy 1, despite his high recognition (89%) and familiarity (73%) Neeson exerts only average purchase influence (30%) among those aware of him but has lower category fit – Automotive 51%, Alcohol Brands 41% and Financial Brands 34%.

In other words, consumers, particularly in the younger generation, aren’t very compelled by a celebrity endorsing a product because they can see through it. Unfortunately, MediaPost Communications (and likely other marketing/advertising companies) misses the forest for the trees (likely because they’re pushing such services to their clients),

Choosing the right person to endorse or promote your brand is vitally important.  There are numerous examples of brand / celebrity partnerships that are incompatible from the outset.  Take Brad Pitt and Chanel No.5 – although his fan base is likely to include females who use perfume, he himself is unlikely to be a frequent user.  Consequently, the partnership could be perceived as inauthentic.

Sometimes a celebrity may make sense. But if you’re thinking about celebrity endorsements before thinking about what it is you’re selling and why, you’re doing it wrong. The youth aren’t the only ones sensitive to inauthenticity, everyone is. It’s likely that younger demographics are less forgiving of it, as they’ve never lived in a world where consumerism wasn’t the modus operandi.

This is exactly the reason why marketing and advertising gets such a bad rap. The industry is more concerned with pushing product than with creating a lasting, meaningful relationship with their customers, built upon trust. There are good companies in this world selling quality products and services that make people’s lives better. You only need someone famous to convince us to use your product if your product doesn’t speak for itself. Let’s hope media types will accept that truth at some point.


  1. Fanatomy is PMK•BNC’s proprietary research study focused on consumer perceptions of celebrities and their potential fit and impact on brands and various product categories.

The Silent Reach of Design

Photo by LittleDaan

As many of you may be aware, I spend much of my free time in the kitchen, attempting to expand my culinary knowledge and prowess. I take a great interest in gastronomic developments around the world, and as a result, became a fan of a a good many chefs. Dominique Ansel gained fame with his development of the Cronut, but his bakery has produced a plethora of brilliant pastries and baked goods that I believe are much more technically impressive than his claim to fame.

I found this interview with Ansel over at the MOO blog thoughtful and worth a read.

You’ve also said that instead of just building a simple hierarchy of a kitchen, you’re building a team culture. What do you mean by that? How do you go about creating a culture?

It’s something that’s very important to me. I’ve learned that it’s pretty tough in some kitchens with people screaming and yelling and changing recipes. I don’t believe in this old school way of doing this, I believe in creating a nice environment and building a future for both my staff and myself. My staff are excited and passionate about what they do. Our staff want to exchange and share ideas, teach each other new things – they’re a core part of the business. They’re not only employees, they care for the business and I involve them in everything that we do, it’s important for me. I want them to be part of the kitchen, to understand why we do the things that we do, how we do them, and then I push them to become part of it. That’s the culture, where people believe that we can do something different every day. They come to work and they know that they’re part of it and that they can help us change the world of pastry.

How has design affected your businesses?

When I started the Bakery, I wanted to make sure it was fresh and modern; we use a clean and clever aesthetic. Design is a silent way to reach out to your guests. If you imagine your products as silent film stars, the design is what communicates their message.

I didn’t want it to feel like your grandmother’s house or that traditional classic, gold-gilded bakery. Our inspiration was to represent a new generation.

What a great analogy.

The value of packaging

tiffanyWith the holiday season here, I’ve been doing my fair share of gift shopping for friends and family members. One theme I’ve been noticing, particularly this year, is just how few retailers care about the entire retail experience. I can get why a discount retailer, or some sale site may not believe it’s worthwhile to spend a couple extra bucks on ensuring the little details are attended to, but I cannot understand just how many companies—many of them not value brands by any means—completely overlook the experience after purchase.

Nearly every store I visited this year were “out of boxes” (which I believe more accurately translates to “we don’t actually order any boxes for customers because we don’t want to be bothered with the extra expense, especially when we give them out for free”). And because none of them stand out in this regard, each misses out on a major opportunity to create a better experience for their customer. Consumers spend money for a lot of reasons. But customer loyalty serves to differentiate and adds value to a purchase. This value translates into increased revenues.

Tiffany’s diamonds are the same diamonds sold at Costco. But Tiffany’s is selling an experience: a memory. They wrap this memory into a package that people will pay 2 or 3 times the amount of a diamond sold elsewhere. But what if you have a better product but a customer’s interaction with it is inferior? Despite the product’s superiority, most customers will devalue it. You don’t want your product devalued. It has a direct correlation to your brand.

Closely watch someone open a delicately wrapped gift you give them this year. There’s drama to it. There’s excitement. There is anticipation. That feeling is worth something. It’s worth getting it right.

Perhaps this is just me frustrated that I need to find about a dozen boxes for gifts this year. But if a store doesn’t care about ensuring my gifts elicit an emotional experience, however fleeting, why should I be loyal to them?

(Photo by atl10trader)