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promotion of fashion designs and celebrity endorsement

Page history last edited by Nicole Eshaghpour 15 years, 1 month ago



Celebrity endorsement is not a new phenomenon but it has seen a rise in the use of celebrities to advocate fashion lines.1 The increasing interest in their persona and lifestyles has made it possible for this union between fashion and celebrity status to be forged. The trend is increasing with more and more brands getting endorsements. Indeed each company is trying to compete with their competitors by using which ever celebrity is in vogue at the time. The fashion industry has become market orientated. That is to say that it does not concentrate on what the consumers want to wear but on what they want them to wear according to the fashion trends.2


We live in a society in which advertising is ubiquitous. It exists in every language and culture, but also in all types of media (TV, Internet, Magazines, Billboards, etc.). Companies rely heavily on creative advertising to promote their products and encourage consumers to buy them. The use of celebrities, also known as Celebrity Endorsement is inexorably settling in as a major communication method. Indeed, the use of celebrity endorsement in adverts has increased from 11% in 1994 to 17% in 2002.3


Definition of celebrity endorsement: The first question we may ask ourselves is what is celebrity endorsement? In 2005, Pickton and Broderick4 defined it as “the use of a well-known person to promote a company or product brand”. According to Sami Alsmadi 5, a celebrity is a “well-known person who likes and enjoys public recognition by certain groups of people”. Famous personalities such as models, actresses and singers, are known for their success and are highly profiled by the public. Therefore they have a powerful influence when endorsing products. Indeed, celebrities help to increase awareness of advertised brands and create positive feelings towards them.6 This would therefore lead on to affect the buying behaviour and brand choice of consumers. Consequently it is important for advertisers to try and establish a logical link between their brand and the image or lifestyle of a celebrity. Indeed, research and experience show that consumers are most comfortable and highly ready to spend when celebrities endorse products that relate to their desired image.

Celebrity endorsement can be an effective type of dramatic communication with the consumer. This is because celebrities come with their own story which has been built and reinforced over a period of repeated public performance. They represent meanings which lead to similarities in lifestyle, class, gender, age, status and personality types.7 For example, young girls who have a more edgy personality and are into Rock and Roll may relate themselves to Rock stars such as Pink or Avril Lavigne.


The keys of success of celebrity endorsement: According to Shim,8 effective celebrities are measured against five important attributes, usually referred to as “TEARS” model. They allow to measure celebrity’s qualities in order to determine his or her effectiveness in endorsement.


• __Trustworthiness__

Trustworthiness reflects the extent to which the consumers trust and believe what celebrities say regarding the advertised brand.


• __Expertise__

Knowledge and experience of an endorser regarding the advertised brand.


• __Attractiveness__

Features that makes an endorser appealing to the targeted consumers.


• __Respect__

Quality of admiration or esteem due to the endorser’s general accomplishments.


• __Similarity__

Refers to the amount to which an endorser matches the target audience on characteristics related to the endorsement relationship, such as sex, age etc.

The use of celebrities in fashion advertising allows young individuals to identify themselves with a famous person. Therefore the message carried is the following: if you feel close to the celebrity promoting the product and if you dream of looking like him or her, you have this opportunity by buying the endorsed product.


The compatibility between the celebrity and the brand: According to McCracken 9 “an endorsement succeeds when there is a clear association between the cultural meanings of the celebrity’s world and the endorsed product”.10 Indeed, the compatibility between the celebrity and the product is very important. Nowadays, famous people have become crucial tools in advertising campaigns. The objective is to make the consumer dream and at the same time increase the visibility of some products and double their sales. The dilemma is to make a pertinent choice of celebrity. Indeed, communication plays a preponderant role in the economic strategy of a company. Its image is often more important than the quality of its products. Therefore, it is crucial to take care of this image; the use of celebrities might be the simplest way to succeed. If the celebrity represents the brand well, the company will fully benefit from the notoriety already acquired by the star. Consequently, companies usually look for a celebrity who possesses the following attributes: familiarity, sympathy, similarity and physical attraction.11 Thanks to these four qualities, the brand promises the consumer that she will reach a part of dream and derive pleasure by buying the product. In an interview published in the French magazine Marie Claire, John Galliano justified his ambassador’s choice (Charlize Theron) for his perfume J’adore the following way: “She has the physique, she is ultra contemporary and conveys emotion and spirituality. Moreover, she adores wearing this perfume ”.12


The ways of celebrity endorsement:

There a several ways in which celebrities can endorse a brand:


- Print advertising in magazines

- Television advertising

- Products used in movies and television programs

- Photographs of paid celebrities using the products bearing the endorsed brand

- Photographs of unpaid celebrities using the products bearing the endorsed brand called the “gratis product placement”

- Mention of luxury brand in music

- Inviting celebrities to be co-creators in designing products

- Naming products after celebrities13


Celebrity endorsing agreements: This agreement is between a celebrity and a company that desires to use the celebrity’s endorsement/services in connection with the sale, advertising and promotion of certain products.14 Some main points must be represented in a celebrity endorsing agreement:15


- Parties

- The endorsed product

- Duration

- Services required

- Compensation and timing of compensation

- Expenses

- Performances

- Use of name/photograph

- Exclusivity

- Infringement

- Death/Insurance

- Changes in activities

- External surprises

- Early termination

- Suspension

- Agency brokerage

- Coordinate with other Marketing

- Confidentiality

- Previous agreement


One negative example of celebrity endorsement that shows how the brands are dependant on the "image" of the celebrities is the example of the celebrity endorsement agreement between Kate Moss and H&M in 2005. Moss appeared in the company's advertisements for designer Stella McCartney. After different publications showing Kate Moss taking drugs, the company decided not to continue the contract with her and to "cancel the advertising campaign with model Kate Moss. H&M distanced itself strongly from drugs and for several years has been actively engaged in drug prevention work with the Mentor Foundation," the company said in a statement. "After examining the situation H&M decided that the campaign with Kate Moss is not compatible with H&M's clear rejection of drugs," the firm stated.16


Unlawful celebrity endorsements: Occasionally, a company may use a celebrity's picture in connection with the sale or advertising of certain products without first obtaining the consent of the celebrity. Many states have enacted laws which regualte the unauthorized use of a person's picture for such purposes (see, for example, New York's Civil Rights law section 51 which prohibits the unauthorized use of a person's "picture" for "advertising" or "trade" purposes. The purpose of the laws is to prevent the commercial exploitation of a person's character. As discussed above, the use of someone's personality, especially that of a celebirty, in a company's advertisement campaign often increases the company's recognition and revenues. If a fashion house uses a celebrity's personality to promote their collection without the requisite authorization, the company risks being sued by the celebrity. Celebrities cautiously choose the endorsement agreements, if any, that they enter into -- they want to control the products their personalities become associated with and want to be compensated for the profits earned because of that association.


An example of an allegedly unlawful use of a celebrity's picture is at the center of a lawsuit brought by famous director and actor Woody Allen against American Apparel Inc., a fashion company that makes and sells its own cotton apparel in the United States. Woody Allen filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan claiming that the clothing company used his image in advertising on billboards in New York and California and on the Internet without his consent. [1] The adertisement has the words, "American Apparel," on it and depicts Allen dressed as a Hasidic Jew with a long beard and black hat next to Yiddish text.  [2]


Allen alleges that the advertisement falsely implies that he sponsored, endorsed or was associated with American Apparel. [3]He claims that he was never contacted by the company or compensated for the use of the image.[4] In fact, Allen has a strict policy of not engaging in any commercial endorsements in the United States.[5]


Allen seeks $10 million dollars in damages on grounds that the unauthorized advertisement damaged his reputation.[6] American Apparel has fought back, saying that the advertisements were only up for a week and that Allen overestimates the value of his reputation.[7] The company plans to introduce details of Allen's personal life, including his affair with current wife Soon-Yi Previn, in order to refute the value of Allen's reputation.[8]



American Apparel advertisement featuring Woody Allen.


1) Okonkwo, U., Luxury brands and celebrities: an enduring branding romance, available at http://www.brandchannel.com/papers_review.asp?sp_id=1234


2) Costantino, M. (1998) , Fashion Marketing and PR, BT Batsford Ltd, London


3) B&T Weekly (2005) Did you KNOW? Celebrity endorsements…., Journal of Advertising, September, Vol. 54 Issue 2537, p.30-31


4) Pickton, D. & Broderick, A. (2005) Integrated Marketing Communications (2nd edition), Prentice Hall, England


5) Schlecht (2003) cited from Alsmadi, S. (2006) The power of Celebrity Endorsement in Brand Choice Behaviour, An empirical study of Consumer attitudes, Journal of Accounting, Business & Management, October Vol.13, pp. 69-84#


6) Solomon, M.R (2002) Consumer Behavior : buying, Having, and Being, 5th Edition, Prentice Hall, New Jersey.


7) Mustafa, N. (2005) The Role of Celebrities in Marketing available at: http://www.interactiveknowhow.co.uk/events/reports/cass_06_backgrounder.pdf


9) Celebrity endorsement (2004) case study of j. Lindeberg, available at:



10) Celebrity endorsement (2004) case study of j. Lindeberg, available at:



11) Okonkwo U., Luxury brands and celebrities: an enduring branding romance, available at http://www.brandchannel.com/papers_review.asp?sp_id=1234


12) Vidal F. (2005) Vous reprendrez bien un peu d’égérie? (Do you want some more muse?), available at http://www.luxe-magazine.com/default.php?FCT=A&A=588


13) Okonkwo U., Luxury brands and celebrities: an enduring branding romance, available at http://www.brandchannel.com/papers_review.asp?sp_id=1234


14) definition of endorsement agreement available at: http://www.sponsorship.com/getdoc/c2f47a1f-44b1-4fc9-b5c5-065c06603e00/Trademark-Documents-(1).aspx


15) Stein, J., Celebrity endorsement agreements : contracting with the Stars, available at: http://www.real-estate-law.com/PDF/Celebrity_Endorsement_Agreements_-_Contracting_with_the_Stars_96.pdf


16) http://www.people.com/people/article/0,26334,1107433,00.html (last visited May 1st, 2008).



  1. Woody Allen Sues American Apparel Over Ads, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/peopleNews/idUSN3143294520080401 (last visited Apr.19. 2009).
  2. Larry Neumeister, Woody Allen Says American Apparel is Harassing Him, Yahoo! News, Apr. 15, 2009, http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090415/ap_on_re_us/woody_allen_lawsuit.
  3. See id.
  4. Woody Allen Sues American Apparel Over Ads, supra note 1.
  5. See id.; Neumeister, supra note 2.
  6. Neumeister, supra note 2.
  7. See id.
  8. Allen v. American Apparel: Woody Strikes Back, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/17/movies/17arts-WOODYSTRIKES_BRF.html?ref=arts.

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