The celebrity factor is the reason that companies vie to have their goods placed in award ceremony gift bags, which are worth tens of thousands of dollars but are given to stars and other attendees for free. The promise of fame prompts designers to create custom-made gowns for red carpet-cruising celebrities. And the power of famous faces also leads brands to line up "ambassadors" to star in advertising campaigns. Chanel has Nicole Kidman, Tommy Hilfiger has Beyonce, and a handful of watch brands have recently announced new celebrity partnerships and product placements of their own.
About a week before the 77th Annual Academy Awards, while John Travolta was giving talk show appearances and interviews to promote his film Be Cool, Breitling announced that the actor (an avid pilot of private aircraft) would be featured in the brand’s new advertising campaign. The ads will premiere in aviation trade magazines in April, and move to consumer magazines shortly thereafter. The campaign hones in on the "combined passions of flying and precision that both John Travolta and Breitling hold in high esteem," the company says.
According to a study by Illinois State University, approximately 20% of all television advertising features a well-known individual from the world of sports, TV, movies or music. Other recent academic studies have concluded that customers are more likely to choose goods and services endorsed by celebrities than those that are not. Thus, companies are increasingly looking for alternative – and cheaper – ways to get their brands in the hands of celebrities and reap the benefits of implied endorsement. Most observers agree that celebrity endorsement via gift-giving has its merits, though some raise the question of whether the practice should ultimately be considered a legitimate marketing tactic. In the meantime, marketers continue to seek new ways to overcome channel flipping and TiVo, in part by buying additional brand exposure through product placement on shows like NBC’s reality series The Restaurant and Bravo’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, both of which are littered with company logos.