Celebrity endorsements of prescription drugs

Boniva continues to use Sally Field as a celebrity spokesperson for their product but as John Mack pointed out, should any prescription drugs be paying celebrities to endorse their products?  Well, according to an Ace Metrix study the answer to that is “probably no.”

The Ace Metrix study found of more than 2,600 ads that celebrity ads do not perform any better than non-celebrity ads and in some case perform much worse.  In their study whether or not a celebrity endorses a product was unimportant in determining whether an ad resonated with viewers.  In fact compared with industry norms relatively few celebrity ads were able to earn performance marks above the industry averages.

So given the costs of celebrity endorsements, sometimes way over $10 million, there is a greater chance for a better ROI for DTC marketers who focus on creative content in ads and aspects of the ad that grab attention and demonstrate relevance.   In fact give me a budget of half of what you pay a celebrity and I will demonstrate a hell of a lot better ROI via the Internet, including “intent” to ask their physician for the product.

The other key issue when it comes to celebrity endorsements is “should drug companies pay millions of dollars to a celebrity at a time when people are having a hard time with medication co-pays?”  For example less than ten percent of the nation’s 38 million elderly people are living in poverty, according to official statistics. But once medical care and other costs of living are factored in, the number of people 65 and older living in poverty jumps to 16.1 percent, according to a new Census Bureau analysis.

So why do they happen?

Well first there are the politics of the situation.  Some CEO’s like to get close to celebrities or play golf with them. Others feel that it’s a big way to make a splash but for an industry so driven by ROI one would have to wonder just how the hell you tie ROI to a celebrity endorsement?

To me money is too damn tight today to waste dollars on celebrity endorsement and then have your market research people work overtime to justify the expense.  Most consumer marketers are starting to drop celebrities because they realize that it’s not the best use of marketing dollars that are too hard to come by today.

Richard Meyer is Executive Director/Principal at Online Strategic Solutions and blogs at World of DTC Marketing.com.

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