KRISTIN’S COLUMN: Five Celebrity Endorsements, Examined

Why were Kirstie Alley, Bill Cosby, Ellen DeGeneres, Joss Stone, and Catherine Zeta-Jones the top picks to represent Jenny Craig, Jell-O, American Express, GAP, and T-Mobile, respectively? How do these celebs rate on product expertise? trustworthiness? liability? appropriateness physical attractiveness?

In this article, expect editorializing supported by sources such as, (Apryl Duncan, Editor), and

Celebrity: Kirstie Alley Product: Jenny Craig Diet Food System
Expertise: minimal education in nutrition, but she was once a competitive swimmer
Trustworthiness: middle-American women love her accessibly casual humor
Liability: Having once had the discipline to swim 3-4 hrs every day, and a previous 3-year endorsement of Pier One, Kirstie might have been a minimal–risk choice.
Appropriate Physical Attractiveness: As America’s 55 year-old Fat Actress, with a past role as an attractive bar manager on the long-running primetime hit, Cheers, Kirstie could be easily seen as an appropriate role model for middle-aged women who need to loose significant amounts of weight. Kirstie’s humor is an important bonus, as weight loss can be an extremely frustrating and complicated process for many mature women.

Celebrity: Bill Cosby Product: Jell-O

Expertise: Doctorate in Education from the University of Massachusetts, and a dad onscreen and off. Also the author of a comic, self-help book, “Fatherhoodâ€?
Trustworthiness: After the successful Cosby Show, most of Americans wanted to have (or be) the father that Bill Cosby portrayed on his sitcome.
Liability: After 30 years as Jell-O’s spokesperson, Cosby is THE FACE of Jell-O.
Appropriate Physical Attractiveness: Perceived in America as the educated, white-collar, eternal African-American patriarch of pop culture.

Celebrity: Ellen DeGeneres Product: “My Life, My Card, American Expressâ€?
Expertise: Comedy, Gay/Lesbian Rights
Trustworthiness: As a popular daytime hostess on primetime television, a famous lesbian, and a recent animated movie star (Dori in Finding Nemo), Americans have witnessed the unique and often courageous lifestyle of Ellen DeGeneres. A Disney favorite, she is the hostess for several themepark rides, including the Dinosaur (Energy) Pavilion at Epcot. Families and the gay/lesbian community love her.
Liability: Right-wing consumers might react negatively, but this might be of little concern considering the current anti-Bush political climate.
Appropriate Physical Attractiveness: She’s the quintessential counter-archetype to the stodgy-businessman persona that has been so overused by credit cards and financial institutions.

Celebrity: Joss Stone Product: GAP
Expertise: British pop singer, discovered by Elton John
Trustworthiness: Stone’s predecessor, Sarah Jessica Parker (of Sex in the City fame), was fired from her three-season $38 million deal, the first multi-season deal the company has ever signed with a celebrity.
Liability: Stone, a fresh-faced music celebrity was a short-lived endorser. GAP has moved on to a widely-distributed, politically-conscious campaign showcasing multiple celebrities (including Oprah Winfrey) buying ruby-colored products to raise AIDS awareness. Also, GAP resurrected Audrey Hepburn this season to introduce the Skinny Pant, a 1980s flashback in fashion.
Appropriate Physical Attractiveness: Young, thin, earthy, soulful, original.

Celebrity: Catherine Zeta-Jones Product: T-Mobile

Expertise: Actress, Singer, Dancer. Little to no technical expertise.
Trustworthiness: Zeta-Jones replaced Jamie Lee Curtis when VoiceStream Wireless rebranded itself with the T-Mobile moniker. Zeta Jones’s deal with T-Mobile began in 2002 and has been the longest celebrity spokesperson deal in the wireless industry so far. In 2005, T-Mobile extended her contract another two years and she reportedly brings in anywhere between $8-9 million a year for the gig.
Liability: No history of arrest or potentially embarrassing scandal.
Appropriate Physical Attractiveness: With leading roles in blockbusters such as The Mask of Zorro, Ocean’s Twelve, and Chicago, Zeta-Jones has been characterized as sexy, independent, and cunning. Americans relate to her as a working mother, while her humble beginnings and marriage to legend, Michael Douglas, position her as Hollywood Royalty.

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