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How car brands have used celebrity endorsement

BySteve Stones

Nov 11, 2019 #Motoring

We’re all suckers for a decent advertising campaign, especially ones that contain our most idolized celebrities. Marketing executives know more about us than we know about ourselves. They know what makes us tick and what is likely to make us get up from the sofa and walk straight into the path of their product. Take Nike’s, ‘Just Do It’, for example. We’ve all been lazing about before, considering going to the gym or going out for a run, and then on comes the Nike ad. We soon realise to ourselves that our old trainers don’t quite cut the bill anymore, the heel is worn, and quite frankly, they don’t look fashionable. What that translates to is a sale for Nike. But, what is more likely to encourage us to buy those new shoes, football boots, or golf clubs? Seeing a celebrity using them is exactly what will. To name another time celebrity endorsement converted into a sale, when Thierry Henry was seen in a Renault Clio, the idea of this being a feminine car was removed, thus the demographic of who bought these cars drastically changed.

After Lil Bow Wow featured in the 2002 movie Like Mike, and discovered he had the basketball talent of NBA legend Michael Jordan after finding his shoes, it was discovered Michael Jordan, one of the most decorated sports stars in history, was an effective pioneer in terms of sports advertising. In 1985, at the age of 21, every time he stepped onto the court, he incurred a fine from the NBA of US$5000. The tariff was decided as Jordan’s shoes didn’t match that of the rest of his team. But why was Michael prepared to take such a heavy financial punishment? Because, he’d signed a deal with Nike worth US$1.4 million a year, just to wear their shoes.

Using celebrities to promote brands will continue well into the future, Jordan is only the beginning. Why? Because advertisers know that when they associate an A-lister with their product, customers can place themselves in the shoes of that person.

In the past, the automotive industry has called upon the help of celebs to help market their brand and boost sales. Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst celebrity car endorsements.

The Royal blue Ford KA: Wayne Rooney

Now playing in the United States for D.C. United, England’s most capped outfield player and Manchester United’s record goal-scorer passed his driving test when playing for Everton at the time.  Unlike many teenage footballers, who opt for the most expensive supercar they can find, the striker from Croxteth got behind the wheel of a royal blue Ford Ka, with a personalised number plate reading ‘ROO NI’. Eventually, the footballer exchanged his 94bhp Ka and more recent cars have included the BMW i8 and Audi Q7. It’s hard to say how many sales Wayne encouraged, but we’re pretty sure a Blues fan somewhere will have bought one.

J. Lo

To help encourage sales of the Italian streetcar, Fiat 500, J-lo teamed up with Fiat and also helped reaffirm her status as Jenny from the Block whilst doing so. Unfortunately for both parties involved, it quickly became apparent that Jennifer Lopez hadn’t actually visited her old get-up to film the commercial, which in turn attracted a host of criticism. Her hit single Papi, which has attracted more than 378 million YouTube hits, did also see the star navigate her way through the city streets in the same car. Although not advertorial, we have seen plenty of stars scooting about in the hatchback since, including Jay Leno and Charlie Sheen.

Posh Spice

What better way to promote a brand new special edition Range Rover than recruiting ‘Posh spice’ to do so? The high-end fashion designer and former Spice Girl, Victoria Beckham, was drafted in to help launch the new luxury Evoque model and was similarly asked to create her own version, using hints of matte black and a rose gold trim. When Posh visited a launch in China however, she spoke of how she was heavily involved in the entire design of the car, sparking outrage among designers. Victoria had been drafted in to help with certain colour changes, not the entire design, which she claimed.

Jaguar and Andy Murray

Andy Murray became a national treasure after he ended the 80 year wait for a men’s single championship victory at Wimbledon. It was no surprise then that the partnership between Andy and Jaguar, the epitome of British engineering, despite now being owned by TATA, worked perfectly. The relationship between the two did not peter out as Murray battled with injury, with 2018 seeing the star make the switch to electric, ultimately boosting brand exposure to the car manufacturer. Following a promise during World Environment Day to go electric, Jaguar had then driver, Nelson Piquet Jr, deliver a brand new I-PACE to Murray, on the court.

Did Thierry Henry ever get to know what ‘va va voom’ means?

Is there any better way to push the sale of a French car than by getting one of the best French footballers of all time to promote it? The former Arsenal star’s four-year team up with Renault, which saw him driving around trying to find the answer of what ‘va va voom’ meant, was such a success that the phrase was added to the English dictionary. Henry, a cool, calm, and collected man, was drafted in as the Renault Clio was simply not selling to men — it was deemed to much of a feminine car. Thanks to the help of Thierry, the appeal to men of buying Clio’s rapidly changed and he was called upon again in 2018 to help once again promote the brand.

It can be a risqué decision recruiting a celebrity to boost your brand. On one hand, you could turn out to be like Renault or Jaguar, creating a partnership that will be remembered by the public for having a strong relationship. Alternatively, you could produce results like that of Fiat and Jennifer Lopez, that will go down in history as disastrous.








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