Australians enjoy a joke and a laugh as much as Americans do, and it’s true that much of the humour that works in the United States also translates directly to the Australian audience. Australian TV is awash in American comedies and US movies to the point where Australian TV needs to have a quota of 55% Australian programming each year. But there are some instances on TV where we think, “So, what has that American celebrity got to do with an Australian service?”, “Are they in between movies and want extra cash?” or, “Is this what advertisers really think will sell that product or service?”
Celebrity endorsement influences advertising effectiveness, brand recognition, brand recall, purchase intentions and even purchase behaviour. However, when the celebrity has nothing to do with the brand or product, it could not only be detrimental to the company, but also leave viewers confused.
One of the controversial ads circling now is by Latitude Financial Services (previously known as GE Money) featuring Alec Baldwin. They claim to be the best independent financial services provider in Australia and New Zealand. In the ad, Baldwin challenges why Australians have so few choices in areas such as TV, phone companies and banks. He drinks a nice cold beer and one of the Latitude Financial Services ‘staff’ even upgrades a schnitzel for a parmy- all classic Aussie traditions.
But the question still stands, why get an American celebrity to market Australian and New Zealand products if they can’t use it themselves? Is it because they have so much persuasion power or can’t Australian companies get Australian endorsers?
Since we feel like we know them personally, especially with social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, our personal connection is much stronger, we feel part of their lives, and we trust them. When we have someone as established as Alec Baldwin telling us that we can ‘do better’.
Latitude chief marketing officer, Donna Pidduck, said that the campaign was an opportunity to introduce the new brand. “Alec Baldwin has such a unique tone and style, we thought he was the perfect fit for Latitude,” Pidduck said.
But the consumers weren’t happy:
“Yes, Australians need an American to tell us what to do. Because we’re idiots. Right? Am I interpreting this correctly?” – Allie
“Simply paying Baldwin doesn’t make a brand. If anything, it damages his brand. It simply demonstrates a mindblowing lack of self awareness.” – Mmmm
These ads were designed to draw viewers’ attention to a celebrity, rather than the pricing and therefore made Alec Baldwin come across as less trustworthy.
Through this example, it is obvious companies choose brand ambassadors that are not only credible, but values align with theirs in order to make them trustworthy. What can seem like a great move, can be detrimental to a companies reputation.
Another popular Australian TV show is The Voice. Season 1 and 2 consisted of Delta Goodrem, Keith Urban, Seal and Joel Madden – a mostly Australian judging panel.
But this year for season 6, Delta is the only Australian celebrity judge on the show! Kelly Rowland (US) and Boy George (UK) and Seal (UK) are all amazing performers, don’t get me wrong, but why not have Australian artists on the show? There are many successful artists from Australia such as Sia, Jessica Mauboy, Kylie Minogue, Vanessa Amorosi and what about bringing Shannon Noll back into the spotlight!
Delta reportedly earned $2 million per season on The Voice in comparison to Kylie Minogue’s reported $7 million on The Voice in 2014. Seal reportedly earned $6.6 million on season 1. While in the US, Miley Cyrus was offered US$13 million for her season on the same show. Boy George reportedly said, in 2016, that he turned down offers to the Australian and New Zealand versions, hoping for a shot at the UK or US incarnation above all. But he returned to the Aussie version in 2017.
Since American celebrities get paid huge amounts of money to be on the show, the Australian show has international judges that still aren’t popular enough compared to Miley Cyrus or Katy Perry. Australia needs the international celebrities to get the higher ratings, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will get more ratings.
So, maybe international celebrities are coming to Australia just for a fun or well paid job in between their everyday careers. It shouldn’t mean we get the ‘rejects’ of America or the UK, but it’s safe to say that the more successful the celebrity, the more ratings the show would get, and therefore the higher paid they are.