Six out of 10 TV commercials in the Philippines use a celebrity endorser and 99% of them are movie stars. Some agency people, however, or at least those who fight for solid ideas at the first sight of job sheets on their desks, frown on celebrity endorsements. Or they put them at the bottom list before they make recommendations to clients.
"A testimonial by a celebrity is always seen as easy way out, a big bore and not conceptually challenging. You make the personality smile on camera, let him/her mouth an RTW line and that's it," one creative director said to me.
Ads that use celebrities sometimes get negative feedback from consumers. Skeptical consumers believe that not all celebrities use the brands they are endorsing and celebrities with irritating voices irk consumers, especially when the ad's frequency is too high.
"Using celebrities in the Philippines seems like going for the big bucks and not helping build the brand in the long run," says a multinational agency brand analyst.
But why do marketers and their ad agencies still bet their peso on celebrity endorsements? How are they chosen and by what criteria?
It all boils down to one word - sales. It is often called "the celebrity edge," which brings advertisers instant credibility and added value in loads of free publicity.
"A brand gets big push by a celebrity's wholesome image but marketers must hurdle one thing: high TFs [talent fees], which eat up a huge chunk of the production budget," says a long time talent manager.
When the iconic Fernando Poe Jr. was still alive, he was reportedly paid a jaw-dropping sum when he endorsed a popular beer brand. So did comedian Dolphy when he plugged a burger.
Like Americans with Hollywood, Manila is obsessed with celebrities. When it comes to hitching a product to their glow, there's just one hitch. When a negative thing or scandal happens involving the endorser, his or her contract goes pfft. And when the glow starts to diminish, so does the celeb's market value.
KC Concepcion, Marian Rivera, Sharon Cuneta, Aga Muhlach, Richard Gutierrez, Dingdong Dantes, Manny Pacquiao, Piolo Pascual, Angel Locsin, Judy Ann Santos, John Lloyd Cruz, Anne Curtis, Bea Alonzo, Claudine Barretto and Robin Padilla belong to the top 15 busiest celebrity endorsers in the country today.
Here's Ms. Rivera in an ad for Nestle's Nesvita