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Are you swayed by celebrity endorsements?

By Amanda Gibson, Pocahontas County High School
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sitting at home during the holiday vacation, watching snow flurry outside your window, you see the television blare an ad featuring the face of a new teen heartthrob. The celebrity talks excitedly about an inventive new toy, discounted specially for the holiday season with free shipping and a bonus gift.You listen intently for a moment, seriously considering picking up the phone and calling the toll free number, but do you actually do it?The advertising industry is huge during the holiday season. A continuous reel of commercials cuts into traditional holiday movies and specials, advertising toys, clothing, makeup, home décor, hardware and more. Limitless demands for a limitless range of products result in a multitude of TV ads, and many companies take advantage of the opportunity to publicly broadcast their product, using celebrities to help promote sales.In a 2009 special to CNN, Harvard Business School associate professor Anita Elberse reported that some companies participating in celebrity endorsements saw a more than 20 percent sales increase. She also said, "...celebrities help firms to tap into their fan base. They open new markets."Many companies realize this, especially those that directly target teenagers because teens are the demographic that most allows celebrities to influence their thoughts and actions. When a product uses the face of a celebrity on its packaging, suddenly the product attracts an entirely new audience because teenagers who look up to the celebrity might find the product more attractive and want to buy it.
Some people, such as Pocahontas County High School senior William Sasser, disagree with these tactics. He said, "I think it is ridiculous. [Celebrities] that go out and drink, get high should not be telling kids what to do. That's the parent's job."Some teenagers agree with Sasser, but others said celebrity endorsements still affect the way they shop. Pocahontas County freshman Jodee Friel said advertisements can influence the way she shops, depending on the celebrity and if she personally likes the product.Pocahontas County senior Hannah Nelson agreed with Friel. "I think [ads] influence people more if it is a celebrity who is promoting it," she said. During the holiday season, people are out to shop, and they want to buy the most popular and in-demand items. The holidays can be the perfect time for companies to jump on the celebrity advertising bandwagon, grab a few stars and promote their product to a wide audience that is willing to buy.So, before pulling out your wallet at the checkout line, pay attention to what influences your purchases this holiday season. Although some people say they do not pay attention to celebrity endorsements, statistics say celebrity endorsements boost sales. There is no telling whether this is a positive or negative trend, but to some companies, the holidays may be the perfect time to use the face of the new teen heartthrob to promote their products.
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