The use of " celebrities " in advertising apparently makes sense. A study conducted by Ana Rumschisky, a marketing professor at the IE Business School in Madrid, measures the return on investment (ROI) of using celebrities in advertising. It appears that we are prepared to spend up to 20% more on the same product if a celebrity is touting it. The study was conducted amongst university students and revealed that men were prepared to pay 19% more for the same product (a luxury wristwatch) advertised by a celebrity than by an unknown model, whilst women were only willing to pay 13.4% more. A clear sign that women are a tougher sale despite their reputation as spendthrift!
I might be a particularly tough customer but the older photo-shopped celebrity trick does not work for me. It might even have the reverse effect and turn me off a brand when it is too extreme. Whilst I am thrilled to see Laura Morante (born in 1956) or Juliette Binoche (born in 1964) advertising Lancome product, I don't need their unrealistic smoothness. They either makes me feel so inadequate that I should hide under a bushel or angry that I am being lied to: those creams and potions might be very good but they are not magic. To be fair, younger models are also ruthlessly airbrushed to perfection, creating unattainable ideals for younger women too.
Airbrushed to destruction
I don't want to sound like a broken record, nor have unrealistic expectations from an industry which essentially sells fantasy but, such relentless airbrushing creates a virtual world of eternal youth and perfection from which I feel increasingly detached. We and people around us, have to live with the reality of our imperfect and aging appearance whilst our famous contemporary seem to never age or are condemned to disappear from the public gaze. I was happy to read Lancome's president, Youcef Nabi say in the French Elle Magazine of 13 November 2009: "At each age, there is a kind of optimum that we try to reach. Trying to punch above one's weight is illusory." Whilst she implies that youth will always win in the boxing ring of beauty, I find a refreshing degree of honesty in her answer. However, the pictures used by Lancome do not quite support that position. Just spot the difference between the stars "au naturel " (actually, fully made-up and artistically coiffed for the red-carpet) and their Lancome version above.
Each time I see Louis Vuitton's Madonna campaign, I can't help but sneer.
The sight of alabaster skinned, corseted 50+ Madonna is such a work of fantasy that I can't help but admire its creator - Steven Meisel and his army of retouchers, but also despair. If such a well-known and powerful woman can only exist in the public eye as a photo-shopped youthful version of herself, we, mere mortal have no hope in hell!
If you want to read more about the study on celebrity advertising: Study on celebrity ROI by Ana Rumschisky
As usual, I have no connection with any of the brands featured.