Celebrity Endorsements are Here to Stay

ANG39-3-To-Market-SocialThe furore in the media about a current tourism campaign that is paying for celebrity endorsements on Twitter smacks a bit of hypocrisy.

Social media dominates every marketing campaign as the results are clearly obvious but when does the fine line between what is ethical and what is fake come in?

The South Australian Tourism Commission has defended a marketing ploy that pays selected celebrities to endorse Kangaroo Island as a great vacation spot to their followers on Twitter. Celebrities can be paid up to $750 for one tweet about the island.

Marketing director for SATC, David O'Loughlin, doesn't see there is an ethics issue. "I don't see a problem in this particular case. I mean our job as marketers and our job in marketing our great state is to try to get as many conversations as we can out in the marketplace about South Australia," he said. "I don't think it's a question of ethics from what we're doing."

If some of the statements by celebrities like Sophie Falkiner, Matt Moran and Shannon Noll were in print media or a TV commercial, would they be acceptable? Celebrities in the United States can command thousands of dollars for a single tweet.

It is really any different to someone famous endorsing a product on a TV ad they will never use or know little about. So many celebrities do it from actors to sportspeople, even politicians. Is it any different to a radio announcer spruiking a product in passing on the morning show. Or a race driver buttering up his sponsor in a broadcast?

Do we really accept that a famous Olympic swimmer really eats eight Weet-bix a day? Does this provoke us to rush out and buy a packet so we can eat eight a day?

Because Dame Edna Everage says she's changing her lifestyle with a weight watch company do we actually accept that is what "she" is doing?

How is all of this different to the advertorials that appear on TV programs like Getaway and The Great South East?

Probably the feelings of the celebrity's fans (Matt Moran claims 20,000 for his Twitter page) is more important. Surely a paid endorsement by (as SATC calls them) "influencers" cannot have as much value as a voluntary unpaid item? But then who really cares?

As Mr O'Loughlin promises, SATC will continue this practice.

His comment that the "media landscape around us changes so dramatically and social media becomes such an important part of the marketing mix, that we have to look at options" is a most valid one.
And judging by the response SATC is onto a winner.

But it could also work two ways. Kangaroo Island tourism operators are going to have to deliver on their TV promise if they don't want a swag of unhappy Twitterers complaining...

As we have often seen in the past, celebrity endorsements can also backfire should the "influencer" do something naughty!