What is the PR value of reality celebrity endorsement?

The presentation of an award to a motorhome manufacturer by Strictly Come Dancing contestant, John Sergeant offers a chance to think about reality television and celebrity endorsement.

The former political journalist was in the headlines before Christmas for his spectacularly dreadful dancing and high profile resignation from the show.  This made him a topical media property, and so perhaps it is not surprising that Motorcaravan Motorhome Monthly selected him to present its MMM awards (held in association with the Caravan Club).

His selection enabled the author of the press release by motorhome manufacturer, Roma, announcing its success in the awards to engage in some terrible puns.  But, how valuable is such reality celebrity endorsement? 

The presence of Mr Sergeant makes a (slightly) better photo opportunity and raises interest in the presentation of an annual trade award. 

As a “celebrity”, he is also likely to be relevant to the target audience of all parties (sorry to stereotype motorhome and/or caravan owners).  But as a recent poll claims Sergeant is the UK’s “most fanciable ugly bloke“, maybe his appeal is wider – but for how long?

I saw the 2007 I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here winner, Christopher Biggins in pantomime at the Southampton Mayflower theatre recently.  Apparently, this netted him a huge fee – but it didn’t seem to have translated to bums on seats.  There was a tenuous link made to his reality television status – but as the 2008 winner had recently been crowned, it seemed rather old news and will become gradually of less value.

Last year, Mark Borkowski came up with a celebrity formula which shows an average 15 months of fame after hitting the headlines. 

Like some pub or hotel that proudly claims to have been an award winner in 1997, there is a very limited life of the celebrity who emerges from reality television.  Indeed,  repeatedly appearing on reality television shows seems to be the career path of a growing number of “celebrities”. 

Many of those currently in the Big Brother house are known only for their previous appearances in other such shows.  Do such people really have any PR merit for brands using their endorsement?  It is hard to believe they do.

No offence, but is the best gig John Sergeant can get with his still current “fame” only presenting trade awards? 

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

2 thoughts on “What is the PR value of reality celebrity endorsement?”

  1. Interesting thoughts Heather – I am constantly intrigued and often bemused by those who venture into the realm of reality shows, whether they are celebrities or ordinary folk hoping for their 15 minutes of fame. For ordinary folk, it rarely reaps anything as ‘grand’ as making trade award presentations, generally undermining or ruining their reputations for the sake of 60 minutes of viewing time. Very recent case that springs to mind is a newish restaurant here in my NZ neighbourhood which featured in a sort of Kiwi version of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares – without Gordon Ramsay of course. Obviously the show was looking to produce ‘good telly’ and this did not involve showing the restaurant in a good light. I walk past it every day and now it is empty most of the time, as opposed to the many other cafes and restaurants on the same street that are full to bursting this time of year from breakfast to dinner (hot summer holiday spot right by the sea). Participants in this sort of programme tend to either forget or not realise that the producers are out to get viewers (so conflict rules the day) and any ‘fame’ is fleeting, generally shortlived and has a considerable impact on reputation.

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