However, the internet, as a space to create content and interact with their audience, has hugely transformed the ability of individuals to brand themselves and, in turn, to become endorsers or ambassadors for various companies and organisations.
It is worth contrasting the recent fortunes of two ‘celebrities’ who have been using social media as a means of advocating their views and campaigns.
The first is the outgoing US President, Donald Trump, who has been a long-term user of Twitter (in his view as a way of bypassing ‘fake media’) to connect directly with the many millions of his supporters.
Recent weeks though have seen his status hugely diminished by his inability to any longer engage with his audience via social media having been banned by Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to name just a few.
Trump’s apparent encouragement of the riots in Washington on January 6 began a steady withdrawal of his business partners.
The insurance brokerage company, Aon, has become the latest business to cut links with him. This follows an announcement from the Signature Bank who said it would close several million pounds worth of Trump accounts.
In addition, New York City said it would end all business with the Trump’s business organisations, stating, “contracts make very clear that if the company and the leadership of a company is engaged in illegal activity, we have a right to sever the contract. Inciting an insurrection against the United States Government clearly constitutes criminal activity”.
The decline of Donald Trump as an ambassador and collaborator for different businesses has been startlingly swift.
Donald Trump’s decline contrasts hugely with the status of footballer Marcus Rashford who cannot put a foot wrong at the moment.
The 23-year-old, who has 4.1 million Twitter followers, recently became the youngest ever recipient of the Football Writers’ Association tribute in recognition of his high-profile work to fight child poverty.
The high regard in which Rashford is held has not gone unnoticed by companies eager to associate themselves with his current status.
For example, Aldi announced they will use Rashford to voice an animation promoting their food poverty campaign.
I would expect his endorsement to be enthusiastically sought by other companies and organisations.
Research shows that celebrity endorsements can be an effective tool for brands, especially in developing markets.
However, the contrasting fortunes of Donald Trump and Marcus Rashford, show how negative actions will force the brand to take urgent action in the market.
Any customer loyalty is effective only as long as the consumers are loyal to the celebrity.
By Stewart Arnold - Lecturer in Marketing at the Hull University Business School
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