If you want people to notice your business, there's a simple solution: get a celebrity to endorse it. Right? Not necessarily. Plenty of research has been done on this topic because, let's face it, celebrities usually don’t come cheap. If you want to get as much bang for your advertising buck as possible, it helps to understand the effect celebrities have on advertisements.

The Results

Branding experts Derrick Daye and Brad VanAuken studied the effectiveness of celebrities on advertisements and wrote about it on their blog, Branding Strategy Insider. They discovered that celebrity endorsements are largely ineffective, rarely producing the sought-after effects businesses want. They studied nationally televised ads for the first 11 months of 2010 and found that almost 90 percent of ads with celebrities didn’t "lift," or increase, the marketing objective higher than 10 percent. One-fifth of ads with celebrities had a negative effect, meaning they turned viewers away from the products. Ads are determined to be effective when they have a certain “brand lift.” This is the percentage increase of a marketing objective. For comparison sake, good brand lift can increase consumer awareness, attitudes and purchase intent by more than 100 percent.

The Reason

People are influenced more by what their social media connections have to say about a business or a product than they are by what some celebrity says, according to Daye and VanAuken. Plus, most celebrity ads studied were weak on information and relevance, which are key factors required in ads for people to act. When celebrities are featured in advertisements, the message sometimes is more about the celebrity than about the product or service.

Unlikeable Celebrity

Daye and VanAuken found that the celebrity ad with the the most negative outcome in 2010 was a Nike ad featuring Tiger Woods called, “Did You Learn Anything?” The ad showed Woods wearing a Nike cap and vest and staring into the camera as he listened to his father asking whether he learned anything. It ended with the Nike logo flashed across the screen. Using an ad with an unpopular or unlikeable celebrity confuses and turns off viewers. Even popular, likeable celebrities aren’t guaranteed to create desired advertising results.

When Celebrities Might Work

If a celebrity is knowledgeable and qualified to talk about the product, the ad has a better chance of being successful, according to a study by Mohan K. Menon, professor at the Mitchell College of Business at the University of South Alabama, and colleagues. Consumers are more likely to view the ad in a positive way if they trust that the celebrity has knowledge about the product. This goes back to the message, however. If consumers are learning valuable information about a product or service, the ad should do well, with or without a celebrity.