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Source: Marketing Daily article by Tanya Irwin

Newly minted TV network owner Oprah Winfrey is one of the few exceptions to this new rule that marketers should heed: Don't waste your money on celebrity endorsers -- especially not Tiger Woods, according to Ace Metrix.

The study shows that ads featuring a celebrity perform no better than ads without, and in many cases perform much worse. The study, "Celebrity Advertisements: Exposing a Myth of Advertising Effectiveness," tested more than 2,600 television ads over the course of 2010 and found that fewer than 12% of ads using celebrities exceeded a 10% lift versus average industry norms, and nearly 20% of celebrity ads yielded negative lift scores in excess of 10%.

The takeaway for marketers is to "think twice," says Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix. "The key question marketers need to ask themselves is what value does the celebrity bring to delivering my creative message," Daboll tells Marketing Daily. "The creative message needs to be first, not an afterthought once the celebrity is signed."

For cause-related ads, such as Oprah, or ads with a creative use of celebrity, such as Betty White in the Snickers ads -- then the celebrity might be worth the investment, he says. "The celebrity adds value to the story. But in most cases, they are not used that way and result in ads that perform worse than ones that don't have a celebrity."

It's no shock that the worst celebrity spokesperson of 2010 was Tiger Woods, led by his endorsement of Nike. Collectively, Woods' TV ads were 23% less effective than average, and Americans in general, regardless of gender or age, were equally unreceptive to his ads.

Tiger's ads in 2010 did very little to inform people about the products he was endorsing. They were all about Tiger, which was confusing, Daboll says. "At the end of the day, his endorsement likely cost his sponsors much more than just the fee for his services," says Daboll, who would not comment on whether the golfer's remaining marketers ought to think twice before renewing their deals.

"We are not about predicting celebrity revival," he says. "I am sure there are examples of those who have rebounded from a fall, and those who never were able to. The other question is who the celebrity's image recovers with. Is it all consumers, only die-hard fans, does he/she still alienate certain type of viewers? Our study has proven that at BEST, celebrities in ads add little value. So, one needs to answer whether the downside outweighs the upside."

Other lackluster celebrity appearances include Lance Armstrong in Radio Shack ads, Kenny Mayne for Gillette, Dale Earnhardt Jr. stumping for Nationwide Insurance and Donald Trump in what proved to be very annoying Macy's ads.

As the star of three of the top five celebrity ads, Oprah Winfrey proved that not all celebrities are created equal. It helps that all three of her spots -- one for Liberty Mutual and two for Progressive -- focused on the evils of texting and driving, a message she personally believes in, as evidenced by her own personal campaign against the practice. The other "winners" included Ed Burns stumping for iShares and Carl Weathers, who appeared in Bud Light spots.

What's important about Oprah's performance as a spokesperson was that each of her ads delivered a highly relevant message and were not selling or pushing a particular product, Daboll says. Oprah, coupled with this message, performed very well across all gender and age groups.

"The ads ranked high in areas of relevance, attention, and information," Daboll says. "We don't measure whether the ad was perceived as genuine or not. But clearly that ad resonated with people."

On average, TV ads starring Oprah generated an average lift of 27% -- a spectacular result, especially considering the product she was promoting was insurance, an industry that suffers from a relatively low industry norm. Consequently, each of Oprah's TV ads performed well, not only in an absolute sense (i.e., across all ads), but also in a relative sense (among all 2010 insurance ads).