Do brands still need icons?

07 September 2016 / Charlotte Faulkner

For decades celebrity endorsements have been a tried and tested tactic for building consumer confidence and brand awareness. Yet, with the rise of digital and social media the traditional role of the celebrity is shifting. These platforms have enabled everyday people to reach out and build audiences, so a new kind of influencer is emerging. In light of this clash of culture, lifestyle and brand, Jaywing Creative Director, Gavin Shore wrote an article for HuffPost Business and Ad Week recently, asking whether we still need celebrity endorsement and can these icons still have a role in modern day marketing?

Consumers today are over exposed to advertising – we see it everywhere we go online, on streets, in magazines – and a recognisable celebrity can play an important role when trying to cut through all the noise. As engagement with bloggers, vloggers and online communities increases in popularity, a different type of influencer is available for us to engage with and brands are certainly rethinking celebrity endorsement. 

Identifying new influencers or real life people to endorse products has been taken a step further by some brands. For example, oil brand Castrol GTX identified one of its own longstanding customers, Irv Gordon, a long-distance driving record holder – who has driven three million miles in his car only ever using Castrol oil. The brand has put the focus on this customer’s passion and experience of driving cars in a new 15-minute documentary that we developed with Castrol GTX to explore Irv’s phenomenal journey. Brands like Castrol are fast realising that it’s not just celebrities who can be brand ambassadors, but real people can be just as effective and even offer more authenticity around the product and brand experience.


The next generation of consumers are demanding greater authenticity from brands. Celebrity partnerships can help invigorate older, established brands, while enlisting celebrities that align with the company’s brand values can help to reach new audiences in a credible way. However, longer term, access to a wider range of influencers, who customers can better identify with rather than aspire to, is likely to mean celebrities influence will be of less importance for brands in the future.

Discover more from this article on either HuffPost Business or Ad Week.