Advertising:

What's in a Name?

by Sheila Millar

What would it be like if you or I were to make a special guest appearance at the promotional launch of some new product? What would the impact be? Would the photographers rush to take our photos or the world's press be there to write the story? Would the crowds come to see us as much as the item being promoted? We would probably agree that for most of us, the use of our names or presence would be of little significance unless under peculiar circumstances. So then, why is it that the use of "famous" people has become so much a part of the advertising world? Why does it have to be a personality as opposed to an unknown?

People We See

Over the years advertising has developed into a sophisticated art form. From early on, promoters saw the benefits of having actors and even royalty give their time and seals of approval to promoting their ideas. In today's modern world, we see the use of famous people promoting clothing and perfumes, for example Liz Hurley who is known as 'the face' for Estee Lauder. Sports personalities often go further than their game, advertising in somewhat unrelated areas. Last summer Pepsi used the tennis stars, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi in their promotions for their soft drink beverage. And it's not only for material issues. The actor Christopher Reeves, backed a 2000 mile wheelchair trek in Britain to raise money for the International Spinal Research Trust after a riding accident left him paralysed. Top singer Celine Dion, made a tour of Montreal restaurants to raise cash for a cystic fibrosis charity after her niece died from it.

Products We Buy

There is no question that this has been a successful approach in advertising. The use of personalities seems to produce product identification or sympathy. That is, the common man buys a product or is alerted to a cause because they like the personality as much as the product concerned. Somehow the everyday "ordinary" person has developed an awe of the famous. Why do we like them so much? Why do we buy things they promote? Has advertising gone beyond educating on product knowledge to somehow creating discontent in the "ordinary person?" Maybe we would like to identify more closely with these people or even be more like them. Is there an underlying desire to have them as our role models?

Be Yourself

Is it that - for a moment in time, when I dab on a particular perfume - I can be transformed from the realms of the "hum-drum ordinary" to the lifestyle of the rich and glamourous? Most of us have the good sense to know this is far from reality! Besides, no one is "just ordinary"! We have been created uniquely in the image of a living God, and it is He who gives us our reason for life. No added product can make us more like any one else because we are basically unique! So when we see a particular product or good cause and it makes us think of a famous person, let's just act according to our evaluation of the product rather than the people used to promote it!

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