Celebrity Spokespeople

The FTD Pick Me Up Bouquet

The FTD Pick Me Up Bouquet

For those of you who might have missed it, Merlin Olsen passed away last week.  Olsen was an NFL Hall of Fame member.  He later starred on NFL broadcasts, commercials, and the TV series “Little House on the Prairie” and “Father Murphy.”  Among his many TV jobs, he was spokesperson for FTD and promoter of the Pick Me Up Bouquet ™.

Because I spent almost a decade at FTD, I met Merlin many times.  He was a warm and kind individual and a wonderful motivational speaker.  And the FTD Florists adored him.  We had him appear at many conventions over the years.  He will be missed.

Merlin’s death reminded me of a topic I find so fascinating – the use of celebrities to promote products and services.  And again, I really liked Merlin and know he was a terrific sales person for FTD.  I just have never understood the use of celebrities in selling products (and the enormous paychecks they get for doing this work).

In my lifetime as a consumer,  I have never once thought “Gosh Famous Person says I should use this product so I should.”  I never thought that much of a celebrity’s opinion – what do they know that the average person doesn’t?  It never occurred to me to think “gee, Famous person is driving this car, so I should.”  Or “wow, I hear famous persons voice narrating this ad, I should pay attention.”

I do not understand our worldwide fascination with famous people and their product choices. And yet it continues to get worse as reality TV stars launch clothing, beauty care lines and books to take advantage of their fame (is it 4 or now 5 Real Housewives who have products out there?  I have lost count.  Next thing, we will have Snookie from Jersey Shore launching  line of trampy clothes at XXI Forever).

Seriously – where does this end?  I wonder if the end, or at least the decline, is going to happen sooner than we think.  Now that we have social networks, it is most likely that a friend will recommend products to us rather than a celebrity on TV.  I tend to listen to people I actually trust and who I know have tried the product being recommended (Nielsen studies support this as well).  With the influence of our peers becoming more important, will we finally start to see a decline of stars in ads?  Will product prices come down because ad budgets will rely on free or low cost viral tactics instead?  Will manufacturers spend that money on making products better or more green.  Or better yet, donating that money to good causes (thank you, Pepsi, for starting, what I hope will become a trend).  In my opinion, there are hundreds of better ways to spend that money than giving a big paycheck to an already overpaid famous person (again, no disrespect to Merlin).

Anyone agree?

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