Celebrity Marketing: Using Television and Movie Characters to Endorse Brands


Four popular examples with celebrities in character who break thru the clutter.

A popular trend in celebrity marketing has been stars appearing in character to endorse a product. By using well known fictional personalities, brands have the ability to reach a wider audience including the character’s fan base.

It can be difficult to decide whether to use a celebrity in character or the celebrity as themselves; therefore consider two important questions:

  1. Is the character more well-known than the celebrity themselves? If people would recognize the character on the street but not the celebrity then it may be a good idea to use the character.
  2. What personality type are you looking for to represent your brand? The personality of the character could be very different than the celebrity’s personality. Consider how much media you’ll ask the celebrity to do and how comfortable they are being “in character” during interviews.

Walter White for EsuranceIn a 2015 Super Bowl Esurance ad, Breaking Bad’s Walter White (Bryan Cranston) reprises his role as the infamous meth-cooking chemist one last time. While the show officially ended in 2013, White appeared in this 60-second spot to endorse online car insurance, working at a drug store and comparing himself to a neighborhood pharmacist.  Conveniently, the spot aired a week before the show’s spinoff Better Call Saul.

Ron Burgandy for DodgeAnchorman’s Ron Burgandy (Will Ferrell) served as Dodge Durango’s salesman piggybacking off the movie’s popularity.

Full House for Dannon John Stamos has appeared in many Dannon commercials but in the 2014 Super Bowl advertisement his co-stars on Full House, David Coulier and Bob Saget, appeared in it as well . During an intimate moment between Stamos and a woman, Coulier and Saget barged in which reminded the audience of many scenes in Full House.

Frank Underwood for Call of DutyHouse of Card’s protagonist Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) appeared as an alternate version of himself in the 2014 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare trailer.  In the spot, Underwood appears as a futuristic warmonger named Jeremy Irons obsessed with world domination and power. While the character is identified as Irons, instead of Underwood, the characters are completely parallel. Fans of the show know that Underwood often plays Call of Duty, making this endorsement cross-promotional.

photo credit: Geoffrey Chandler via Flickr




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