AdSoc Blog Competition: Shaken and potentially stirred, the death of the celebrity

Throughout history, events have manifested themselves not solely through human agency, but through social processes. As a University student, take career paths for instance. Although, every James mcFinance, Sarah mcLaw, or Peter McAccountancy (less good, I’ll admit) believes that their career path is determined solely by their own actions, social science can predict with near computational-like accuracy that 30% will go into finance, 20% into Law and 15% in Accountancy and so on and so forth in any given community. Take a more nuanced historical example therefore, the rise of Nazism and the Extermination of the European Jews. Although certainly led by Hitler, did not materialize through any teleological plan of the Furher, but came about through instilling Nazi policy into the body politic, the Volk. This positive concept of bringing society together in the Volk through the negative idea of anti-semitism was central to the success of Nazi Policy. It was a subterranean, social process, as much as being driven by the political actions of German leaders.

Today’s modern media and digital age has shaken advertising. Online is on the money. With computer screens and 4G mobile phones, the click-of-a-button era has never been so commanding. The social and cultural impact of Twitter, Facebook and even the DailyMail online have long been talked and written about. A-to-Z-list celebrities all have pages, updating us daily, even hourly, on their every movement. However, need this cyber arms race continue? Need it be the way forward for advertising agencies to tap in to? Whilst, of course a large amount of people may be driven by action, opinions, or even clothes of celebrities of national figureheads, is this really how society works? If human actions are less fundamental to how society works and prospers than the underlying trends that unite the people, should marketing really not try and find this social sub-conscious?

Here are a few examples where the celebrity-brand combo may not have hit the nail-on-the-head…

Now listen, I am the first guy to laugh at a tongue-in-cheek celebrity commercial. And I also recognize the hilarity in an appallingly dressed Bruce Willis singing into a wine cooler, or the former Russian Tsar, Gorbachev, advertising stuffed-crust, or even the shameless Mr.T (yes, you are right in remembering him from the semi-recent snicker adverts too..) advertising some kind of oven/alien contraption. However, for the majority of these, they are unintentionally, only brilliant now.

So, if the celebrity doesn’t sell anymore, then what truly does? Here’s three of not just my own, but I’m sure the nations favourite..

 

Now what do a brother and sister moving their eyebrows to electro music, a gorilla playing the drums, and an awkward phone conversation of a guy in the public loos have in common? Maybe it’s that they all resemble celebs (the gorilla is imitating the famous Phil Collins drum solo, the two children are on the set of some kind of photo/video shoot, and the guy on the phone to the other guy in the loo could/should be in the in-betweeners)? I don’t think so however…

It’s more likely just the ridiculous, random and almost completely irrelevant nature of the advert-to-brand combo that makes it hilarious. Whilst Keanu Reeve’s selling cornflakes will always have an appeal to me, the celebrity as the advertising centrepiece does not ring true anymore for modern society. Of course, tag-lines, such as Bond’s in the title of this blog, strengthen a brand. But this need not include a celebrity. Marketing has to tap into the social trends that unify society. So popular are they that a follow-up video has received nearly 50 million views. Concepts like ‘ridiculousness’ or ‘random’ are equally as important as Rihanna, because they make things ‘remarkable’ – or in other words, shareable.