The past few days have pretty much gone exactly as I suspected following the premiere of Nike's new Tiger Woods commercial. SHOCK! OUTRAGE! DISGUST! AND NIKE MONOPOLIZING THE TALK AROUND THE WATER COOLER JUST AS THEY HOPED!!
If you're looking for that kind of discussion on here, you'll have to find another blog, message board, talk radio station, etc. I'd like to approach this from an entirely different angle. Specifically, how many pairs of Nikes did you feel compelled to go out and buy just because you saw Tiger Woods endorse them for the first time since the scandal? And more specifically, how many pairs of Nikes (or bottles of Gatorade, or Buicks, etc.) did you buy BEFORE the scandal just because Tiger appeared on TV to tell you you should?
I dare say not too many who read this will ever admit to having bought a product based on the words or appearance of a "celebrity", and at least one online column within the past week argues that celebrity endorsements are worthless but concedes that there is a mountain of evidence that suggests otherwise. I think we're all smart enough to know that major corporations wouldn't bother continuing to do megabuck deals with major celebrities and athletes if they didn't.
For the sake of full disclosure, I have spent almost 20 years in radio, and I have done dozens of live commercials over the years. And yes, I got paid for most of them. In EVERY instance, however, I never endorsed any product or business I did not truly believe in. I also never believed in the fact that any listener would sample or use a product regularly just because I told them to. If anything, I was making the listener aware of a particular product. For those who were already aware but had yet to try the product or visit the business, I was letting them know I found it to be worth their time and effort to give it a shot. Hopefully my honesty in endorsing a product is what convinced people to try it, but there may also have been a few people who tried it simply because I told them to do so. Along those lines, Paul Harvey's longevity in the business was, in large part, because of his gift for selling a product. The man convinced you that he believed in a product to the point he'd refund your money himself if you didn't like it.
I'm not convinced that celebrities can convince us to vote for certain politicians, but we are all lying to ourselves if we are bold enough to declare that Tiger's latest commercial didn't shock us.......and then remind us the soles of our old Nikes were starting to wear out and we really needed to run to the sporting goods store and get those new ones NOW! Tiger might not have had a direct effect, but as long as the cash register is ringing, he definitely has an indirect effect. The latest commercial, crass as it might be in its message, would have never made it on the air if Tiger's endorsement was "worthless".
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