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The New Celebrity Scandal - Superstar Skin Care Product Endorsement

The New Celebrity Scandal - Superstar Skin Care Product Endorsement

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Jessica Simpson, Reese Witherspoon, Vanessa Williams, Serena Williams, Beyoncé.  What do you think of when you hear these names?  Chances are, if you have cable TV, various beauty and skin care products come to mind; Proactiv® Solution, AVON, and L'Oréal are among brands these celebrities promote.  More and more stars are endorsing products in seemingly innocent advertising for their favorite beauty supplies.   After all, who can resist a famous person's heartfelt confession that she, too, needs a solution for acne, wrinkles, and fine lines?  And Jessica Simpson's acne-free Proactiv® Solution skin, Beyoncé's luscious L'Oréal look, and Reese Witherspoon's AVON-induced girl-next-door appeal speak for themselves....  or do they?  Is there more than meets the eye to the celebrity endorsements of skin care products?

I'll Scratch Your Back, You Scratch Mine

Celebrity endorsements of any brand may carry more political weight than the public realizes. In an article by journalist Ray Moynihan, a source describes the partnership between a brand and a celebrity as having an "intangible sort of magic" - a mysterious I'll-scratch-your-back-if-you'll-scratch-mine relationship in which both parties benefit. 

The advantages to manufacturers are obvious.  Well-known celebs' Hollywood appeal allows them to sell merchandise with a Midas touch.  Companies can also target specific audiences through a celebrity, often under the guise of "raising awareness" or "reaching out the public," and the star becomes an integral part of the company's marketing strategy.  Meanwhile, celebrities gain fresh attention through diverse media exposure.  After all, it's not enough to simply be famous anymore; a star must brand a perfume, start a clothing line, publish a magazine, and go to rehab in order to stay ahead of his or her peers.  By promoting skin-care products and admitting that famous people, too, have imperfections, celebrities identify with the average person and thus increase their popular appeal.  And finally, there is the issue of financial compensation, which can range from thousands to millions of dollars, making a deal hard to refuse.

Buyer Beware: Politics, Advertising, and Propaganda

Since celebrity product endorsements involve complex politics between marketers, manufacturers, and celebrities, these promotions often occur at the expense of the consumer.  The public may be largely unaware that cosmetic companies provide celebs with sizable compensation, and often verbatim scripts, for promoting their products.  People may therefore place undue trust in celebrities' statements about the merchandise.  Furthermore, stars may not advertise dangers or downsides of a product.  Finally, some would argue that, by promoting anti-aging and acne-fighting skin care supplies, celebrities may be perpetuate destructive beauty myths rather than helping to enhance viewers' attractiveness.

The Bottom Line

Given the interplay between the media, manufacturers, and celebrities, consumers should be aware of the smoke and mirrors of the advertising world.  Rather than depending on celebrity spokespeople or advertising for their information, potential buyers should rely on clinical product data before making purchases.

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