Celebrity Advertisement on Social Media: Honest or Dishonest?

Illuminated Transcript

By: Monique Costabile

Introduction: You’re listening to inQUERY a podcast show run by the Professional Writing students here at York University, we’re exploring the new technology of today and creating the new ideas of tomorrow.

I remember when I first got Instagram it was during the time the Kardashian’s consumed magazines, newspapers, tabloid entertainment shows; if it was related to the media, they were seen on it. With this huge rise to fame I remember Kim Kardashian and the rest of her family were the first people I followed. This platform generated a bigger obsession and I began to be so interested in whatever they posted. It began with detox teas to hair strengthening pills to the “oh so popular” waist trainers, these were all very intriguing adverts and I am not going to lie the hair strengthening pill was tempting to purchase. As the years went on while having my Instagram account I began to become obsessed with more and more celebrities and saw they were posting different advertisements too. It became this on going cycle of adverts posted by a celebrity after the other. I have seen celebrity adverts on TV and heard of a few from Twitter but I never knew that this new platform known as Instagram was going to be at the top of the pyramid of the best form of social media for endorsements. (see my blog post titled The History of Instagram for more information http://stephanie-bell-m08b.squarespace.com/blog-season1/05b7f49a-0c24-4bf1-b38c-9baa42e35b34) But, it’s not only Instagram it is all of the popular social media sites that contain celebrity advertising. Although, after seeing numerous endorsements, I began to wonder if these celebrities are actually using these endorsed products. This was extremely interesting to me and I needed to find out more about this.

Hi everyone my name is Monique Costabile and I will be discussing the personal connections we can feel with celebrities and their advertisements on social media. Celebrity advertising on social media has been an ongoing popularity in the modern world. With these celebrity endorsements, consumers are easily persuaded. This leaves me with wondering how honest these celebrities are being? And if dishonest, is this dishonesty what is making celebrity advertising on social media work?

Well I have done a lot of research and I am here to give an explanation in relation to this.

Here is a little detailed insight I found in regards to the authority celebrities have when endorsing products:

In an article titled The Economic Worth of Celebrity Endorsers: An Event Study Analysis, writers Jagdish Agrawal and Wagner A. Kamakura state, “Celebrity endorsement has become a prevalent form of advertising most popularly in the United States” (Agrawal & Kamakura 56).

The power celebrities have over brand advertising is immense and has been rapidly growing for quite some time.

A senior marketing executive at Amgen, a Californian biotech firm, named Ray Moynihan, provided insight on the authority celebrities have over brand advertisement, “a partnership between a celebrity and a brand has an intangible sort of magic” he states (Moynihan 2004).

I think it is an obvious fact that celebrities have great power over us and have the ability to persuade us into thinking and acting a certain way. This power celebrities have over us is something that numerous brands know. Having a celebrity advertise your product will definitely increase your sales. What we need to remember here though is, celebrities get paid large amounts of money to endorse products. This can cause celebrities to still endorse the product even though they do not like it. This leaves consumers with believing dishonesty and spending money on something, which most likely does not live up to the standards the celebrity said it would.

“Welcome to power of Persuasion. Where a single tweet can make or break a company” states an article titled “Marketing Influence: The Power of Persuasion” (you can find the article here) (2012). The article explains how easy it is to persuade customers and how much brands rely on the face and word of celebrities (“Marketing Influence: The Power of Persuasion” 2012). 

Here I found in an article taken from diva-portal.org titled The Use of Celebrity Endorsement with the Help of Electronic Communication Channel, where it stated, “Social media becomes a dominant factor that influences the different aspects of consumer behavior including perception of information, awareness, opinions, attitude, evaluation, purchase behavior, and post-purchase communication” (Kutthakaphan, R., & Chokesamritpol 8). As you can see, this article clearly reveals how much social media can influence consumers. When celebrities are apart of social media advertising, purchases of the marketed brand skyrocket. In relation, the article continues to mention, “Celebrities can provide not only a great value in building strong brand equity, but also improving a brand’s marketing position if the endorsers are used wisely. This marketing strategy is a swift and valuable way to build up instant brand recognition. It saves marketers a lot of time when trying to attain consumers’ awareness and draw attention to the brand” (Kutthakaphan, R., & Chokesamritpol 1).

With the invention and popularity of social media in the modern world, celebrity marketing has become even easier.

I came across an article titled “The Intangible Magic of Celebrity Marketing” written by Ray Moynihan, where he states through a completed survey; data was collected “to guide drug company marketers on the selection and ‘effective use’ of celebrity spokespersons” (Moynihan 2004). Moynihan clarifies that, “The survey was conducted by a Seattle firm called NexCura Inc., in partnership with the trade magazine that published the study” (Moynihan 2004). The survey collected data in regards to:

“Credibility, and” underlined “the importance of” the “star being perceived as generally trustworthy, and specifically knowledgeable about the condition on which they are hired to speak. Perhaps not surprisingly, the survey found that people diagnosed as suffering chronic conditions were far more attentive to celebrity messages on health than the general public” (Moynihan 2004).

Correspondingly, the article also emphasizes “The issue of credibility is important”since “the NexCura Inc. researchers point out,” “‘the credibility rating is used as a surrogate for “buying” behavior’—an intermediate measure of whether the star can persuade people to request the" "drug from their doctor” (Moynihan 2004).

This is very problematic in numerous ways. In the world of marketing pharmaceuticals, celebrities’ marketing these antibiotics dishonestly can cause immense harm to consumers’ health.

This is just a specific example of the harm celebrity dishonesty in advertisements have caused but in the pharmaceutical world it is evidently the most harmful. 

With social media, celebrity endorsements in regards to altering their appearance and body types have been significantly popular.

In an article titled, “When Toning Shoes Strengthens Nothing More Than Likelihood of Lawsuit” it states, “The toning shoe industry has helped itself by gathering a large number of celebrity endorsements to grace its ads” (Mandelkehr 298). The article adds, “Advertisers have more ability than ever to access consumers through online media by sharing their messages about products through their own websites and encouraging consumers to spread the word through social networking (Mandelkehr 324). Although these “toning” shoes may not actually work, through social media celebrities have the ability to endorse these products persuading buyers worldwide. Since our society is so obsessed with getting in shape as fast as possible, a product such as these shoes would definitely convince buyers and celebrities know this.

It is quite frightening to actually take a moment to reflect on how much society today relies on the opinions of celebrities. Today, we rely on celebrities’ opinions and whatever they recommend we automatically assume our lives will be better with it (see this video from digital.films.org titled “Why We Buy What We Buy” for more information on how much society today admires celebrities). This is where celebrities disregard the issue of authenticity. Dishonestly is not a concern for most celebrities because they believe their fans will believe them and do exactly what they tell them they should do. This is a common factor that is associated with most celebrities. Social media has made this issue even more concerning. These platforms are so easy to access, that we can become obsessed with celebrities opinions just by simply logging onto a site. What is crazy about all of this is, the most popular celebrities are the ones not being authentic. This makes me believe that these celebrities who are always in the media, are taking advantage of their fame to advertise dishonestly just to get paid a large amount of money.

In an article titled “Using Classic Social Media Cases to Distill Ethical Guidelines For Digital Engagement,” it is stated, Celebrities have been caught for dishonesty in numerous adverts such as, “Kim Kardashian’s $10,000-per-tweet endorsement of Carl’s Jr. fast food” leaving “the uninitiated believing that the thin celebrity is constantly eating” this unhealthy food (Bowen 128). (see my blog post The Income of Celebrity Marketing for more information http://stephanie-bell-m08b.squarespace.com/blog-season1/891fd566-2f0f-48c6-a875-8dac20a87dd2)

The article adds that, it was only recently disclosed that Kardashian tweets for the purpose of being paid (Bowen 128). The article states, in order to avoid deception, celebrity endorsement should be disclosed, and also adds, “Disclosure could enhance the effectiveness of genuine endorsements and would make celebrities potentially more cautious about the organization with whom they agree to be a paid endorser” (Bowen 128).

Unfortunately this deception within celebrity adverts has rarely been stopped.

We as a society should definitely be concerned with this subject. Celebrities have this power over us to control anything we do. They can influence us to buy a lipstick or even something as random as a certain food item from the grocery store. Whatever lifestyle a celebrity that we admire lives, we crave to live that same way. This is very concerning as slowly our lives will be consumed with whatever a celebrity is currently doing and this concern is increasing with the easy access of social media.

I was very curious to see what other opinions aside from my own were based on celebrity dishonesty on social media.

I collected primary data on opinions based on how celebrity dishonesty makes one feel.

Through a questionnaire I asked one of my close friends and my sister on their opinion on celebrity dishonesty on social media.

I first began with asking my sister Sabrina Costabile.

Monique: Sabrina, how would you feel if all of the posts the celebrity you admired were dishonest paid endorsements?

Sabrina: I would feel betrayed and the celebrity I thought I admired only used me for my money.

I then asked one of my close friends Victoria Sampogna.

Monique: Victoria, how would you feel if all of the posts the celebrity you admired were dishonest paid endorsements?

Victoria: I would feel like the celebrity as a person is a liar, they don’t really care about their fans and they just want more money.

This collected primary data shows how reliant society is on celebrities’ opinions. Celebrities’ opinions shape the advertised products as well as the brand. This is why so many brands are now reaching out to celebrities to advertise their products. But, we are so addicted to the fact that the celebrities we admire are so trustworthy that we find it hard to believe this issue of dishonesty.

You are probably now wondering why the issue of celebrity dishonestly on social media matters. It matters because society today is brainwashed by the media. We rely so much on celebrities and trust every word they say that we are blind to how this is giving celebrities the opportunity to take advantage of us. This is harmful in numerous ways and we as a society need to start paying attention to authenticity.

I think it is pretty clear that celebrity advertising on social media works and their dishonesty is what generates this ability. Society’s dependence on celebrities is a factor brands take into account since they know celebrities will be able to persuade consumers into buying the product even if they are dishonest about it. In my opinion, if a celebrity I admired convinced me to buy something that did not live up to the standards they said it would, I would feel betrayed in a way. I would feel differently about the celebrity and would most likely not admire them anymore. I feel like honesty not only creates a trusting fan base for the celebrity but it as well saves the endorsed brand from looking deceitful as well.

Celebrity dishonesty on social media is a popularity in the modern world and is something many people do not even realize. The reasoning behind why celebrity advertisement on social media works even if the celebrity is dishonest is because today we as a society are so easily tricked into believing lies. We are so dependent on celebrities that we believe whatever they are endorsing is something they use and this product has changed their life for the better. When we believe this, we end up believing the same will happen for us if we purchase the product. Since we are easily fooled, celebrities participate in this game of deceit because they know they have the ability to create increased sales for the brand they are endorsing by lying to their fans. This is an ongoing occurrence in the world of social media. We need to realize that the celebrities endorse dishonestly mainly for the money. Slowly as society begins to find out about all these lies celebrities have told through their advertisements this will create a bad name for themselves as well as the brand they endorsed. People get persuaded into buying these products because they are unaware of the lies celebrities are capable of telling. We put so much trust into celebrities and unfortunately most of the time these celebrities do not deserve this trust.

Some people have trouble believing this issue of dishonesty because many believe that the celebrity they admire would never lie to their fans. Celebrities who are very famous in the media know that their fans will think this way. This creates celebrities to think that dishonesty will not really matter since their large fan base will support them regardless. This is how celebrities take advantage of their fans. They know their fans will believe every word they say and buy the products they say they should purchase. Not only are they not being an honest celebrity but also they are using people for the purpose of making more money, money that these celebrities probably do not even need.

Now with just a simple post, social media has made celebrity advertising even easier, making a lot more people believe this dishonesty. Being tricked into buying products is so easy now because just by quickly checking your Instagram feed, you can see several advertisements posted by a celebrity. With one easy post these celebrities are making more money than any of us can imagine. Most of this money is being made through lies and more awareness needs to be brought to this issue.

After finding the research associated with this podcast I have found out a lot of information that I did not know that was associated with celebrities and social media. When both celebrities and social media combine together the problem of authenticity is created. It amazed me at how dishonest celebrities can be through their posts on social media. Their dishonesty is not the only thing that surprised me though, the amount of money they get paid to endorse these products was surprising as well. This makes me wonder if most of the stuff we hear in the media today is all a lie. I think the best thing to do is to never take the word of a celebrity when they advertise a product. The best thing to do is to do your own research first before investing money into a product. This research has made me realize that some celebrities do not care if consumers waste their money on a product that was dishonestly advertised by them. All the celebrities’ care about is making more money than they already have.

I will now keep an eye out when logging into my social media accounts. I will be aware of any advertisements posted by a celebrity and keep in mind if they are being authentic or not. Trying not to get persuaded is hard, since celebrities are so good at convincing people to buy a product, but it is best to keep in mind how most of the time the product is probably not as good as the celebrity said it is.

If this problem with authenticity is more known in the public, then celebrities will not take advantage of consumers. With it being known, these dishonest advertisements will not create sales since the public will know this issue with dishonesty. This will cause less dishonest advertisements by celebrities on social media because they will know it will make them look bad and as well not make themselves any money.

It is hard to do this due to social media existing. These platforms make it so easy to generate these advertisements. But, I think awareness is a good start in helping people realize the deceit behind majority of the celebrity advertisements that exist.

I hope this podcast has opened the eyes of many and has now brought awareness to how deceiving a post on social media can be. Just because a celebrity says you need a particular product in your life does not mean you actually need it or that your life will be better with it. Remember to always think twice before purchasing a product that was endorsed by a celebrity and to always keep the possible dishonesty associated with their posts in mind. Thank you for listening to my podcast on celebrity dishonesty through social media, I hope you enjoyed!

Outro: From scratch media.

Works Cited:

Agrawal, Jagdish, and Wagner A. Kamakura. “The Economic Worth of Celebrity Endorsers: An Event Study Analysis”. Journal of Marketing 59.3 (1995): 56–62. Web.

“Ambient electronic music 001. 328368__frankum__ambient-electronic-music-001.” Freesound.org. 10 November 2015. 6 December 2015. 

Bowen, Shannon A. "Using classic social media cases to distill ethical guidelines for digital engagement." Journal of Mass Media Ethics 28.2 (2013): 119-133.

Kutthakaphan, Rangsima, and Wahloonluck Chokesamritpol. "The Use of Celebrity Endorsement with the Help of Electronic Communication Channel (Instagram): Case study of Magnum Ice Cream in Thailand." (2013). 

Mandelkehr, Heather M. "When Toning Shoes Strengthen Nothing More than Likelihood of Lawsuit: Why the Federal Trade Commission Needs Guidelines Regarding Proper Substantiation of Fitness Advertisements." Jeffrey S. Moorad Sports LJ 20 (2013): 297.

“Marketing Influence: The Power of Persuasion” Forbes. Forbes. 22 May 2012.

Moynihan, Ray. "The intangible magic of celebrity marketing." (2004): e42.

“technology ambience. 223442__burning-mir__technology-ambience.” Freesound.org. 18 March 2014. 6 December 2015.

Why We Buy What We Buy. Films On Demand. Films Media Group, 2001. Web. 29 Nov. 2015. Retrieved from digitial.films.org