In the ‘70s it was the decade of massive soaps. Think Dallas, Dynasty and Falcon’s Crest. The ‘80s were owned by sitcoms. But for the past 15 to 20 years, starting with Big Brother, television has been dominated by literally hundreds of so-called ‘reality’ shows. And reality TV has certainly made an impact on TV land with many marketers asking firstly, if there is still a demand for it and secondly, if it still works. I, for one, unashamedly love reality TV, but only within certain genres of programming.
I would rather stick a red-hot poker in my eye than watch things like Honey Boo Boo and Cougars, but then, I am not the target market! But programmes such as Survivor, Manhunt and Dude You’re Screwed are right up my alley. Having said that, I’m sure there are markets for Honey Boo Boo and the like, but just not for me.
The latest local Survivor series has just started again and I am loving it. It was long overdue, since the last Souh African series was aired in 2011. I’ve watched many of the international series but there’s something about local that is just ‘lekker’. One of the many successes of the series are the constant twists in the programme that keep viewers guessing and coming back for more. One such twist is the use of local sporting celebrities. I believe this is a great addition to the programme and wait with bated breath to see how effective it will actually be. (It seems an international audience is enjoying it too. TV reporter Thinus Ferreira reports that it is being illegally downloaded around the world, from Canada and Norway to New Zealand – Ed)
Unfortunately it’s too early in the series to compare figures but word on the street is that it’s working well.
The use of celebrities in ads and programmes is not new and varies from country to country. In Japan and North Korea, 40% of the TV ads and programmes make use of celebrities whereas in the US it’s around 10% and in the UK, 12%. This year’s local Survivor series sees the use of rugby and soccer celebrities as the two team leaders. As I am a huge rugby fan my allegiance obviously lies with Team Krige. My son, on the other hand, loves his soccer and supports Team Fish which makes for some interesting dinner conversation on a Sunday evening.
Guest appearances by other sporting celebrities so far have included Jonty Rhodes and Makhaya Ntini.
For marketers, the following three points are important to consider when selecting celebrities to represent your brand.
1. Who are they (do they resonate with your target market)?
2. Are they liked (key for emotional responses)?
3. What do they represent (right fit celebrities enhance communication messages)?
Bear in mind though, that celebrities are human after all and are subject to human failures and could therefore even become a liability to a brand. Oscar Pistorius is a classic example of a celebrity endorsement gone sour.
Additionally, sponsorship makes advertising work harder for a brand. More and more advertisers are investigating programme sponsorship, not only to deliver their brand messaging or launch new products, but also to grow the brand in the consumer’s mind through positive association.
Take Subaru as an example. Over the last year they have sponsored multiple sitcoms on M-Net, which has directly affected my friends and family. The Subaru brand has now made it onto the intuitive shortlist when considering a new vehicle – that’s no easy feat.
Sponsorship is becoming a powerful part of any media mix and can effectively communicate key brand values to a targeted market thereby eliminating wastage. Advertisers cannot rely on sponsorship alone to target key markets; it needs to be part of the mix to ensure the brand is exposed at many different levels.
Effective sponsorship takes time and should form part of a long-term strategy. Coupled with celebrity endorsement, brands can flourish in an ever-competitive market.
Jedd Cokayne is Group Head: Famous Brands at The MediaShop