Updated: Apr 13, 2021
What are some qualities of a great spokesperson?
Charisma. Charm. Looks. Humor. Likeability. Relatability.
All traits that bring a larger-than-life mystique to any advertisement while still being relatable to the common man or woman. These actors, actresses, artists, athletes, and media personalities can give off a certain “vibe” that resonates beautifully with a certain product/service’s intended audience.
Yet it’s important to note that this is not a “one performer fits all” type of situation. The persona of the actor/actress within the advertisement must pair well with the intended product/service.
For example, a stand-up comedian may not be the best spokesperson for a commercial outlining a new prescription drug. Yet, that same sense of comedic relief may lend itself well to endorsing a new beverage or snack. It’s not boxing people into a specific category. When done well, crossover categories can help break the mold of a traditional commercial and make for some memorable moments.
Which leads us to defining what a spokesperson truly is. A spokesperson is an advocate for a brand, product, or service. The best spokespeople are often so engrained within the advertising that you often associate them with whatever they are endorsing and vice versa. A spokesperson makes regular appearances within the context of advertising. It’s less about Betty White’s memorable appearance in a Snickers’ commercial (since that was a one-time thing). Rather, it is Shaq repping The General Insurance or IcyHot or Papa John’s or one of 50+ other brands.
And that’s not a dunk on the big fella. By building an advertising career built on longevity and consistent association and appearances, many of the world’s most prominent figures have carved their name within the brand marketing world. Even fictional characters have been brought to life through the power of advertising. Never is this more evident than within the realm of insurance as the industry has created spokespeople in the form of humans (Flo, Jake from State Farm), Neanderthals (caveman), animated animals (The GEICO Gecko), and even chaos (Mayhem).
I asked some folks within The Sponsorship Space community to see who some of their favorite and most memorable spokespeople are:
Matthew McConaughey x Lincoln:
“I love Matthew McConaughey for Lincoln. At first it was relatively unexpected, but he brings a calm, cool, collected vibe to a brand that is thought of as standard, boring and “for elderly drivers.” He’s kind of a catch-all for adult consumers, a well-liked voice - Men like his shows or movies, women too (and that he’s quite attractive), he’s a philanthropist, a professor... the world's most interesting, rounded, respected, casual celebrity man. So it’s hard not to listen (or look at) him, plus Lincoln almost made the commercial about him and the car as a necessary accessory to his life; appealing vs more standard auto commercials. Lincoln’s have a “cooler” stamp with his approval now and saw an increase in sales.”
-Cailey Aubrey, Media Buying Manager, Vinik Sports Group
Matthew McConaughey is indeed the essence of cool. He brings a very deliberate mystique to him. Every word is annunciated in a particular way without coming across as such. He fits the Lincoln mold of luxury vehicles with the elegance
Lincoln’s website describes its line of SUV’s as “sleek, striking, and dramatic.” Are they sure they aren’t referring to McConaughey?
Jon Hamm x SkipTheDishes:
“Hamm has done so many Skip the Dishes commercials in Canada. There are so many to the point Canadians now believe he’s Canadian.” -Aubrey Whitzman, Growth & Partnership Marketing, Rover
Hamm stars in a series of spots for the Canadian-based food delivery company. Truly being nothing but himself, his quirky sense of humor wonderfully highlights the different options available throughout the platform.
Chris Paul x State Farm:
Chris Paul has been a mainstay with the insurance brand having been a part of commercial spots for the brand since the early 2010’s. “The Power of Assist” campaign was a hit with his fake twin brother “Cliff”. And now Paul is poking fun at his longevity with the brand, providing a meta-take on how familiar he is with the iconic hallmarks of a State Farm commercial.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Rob Lowe x Atkins:
If you’ve watched even an episode of Parks & Recreation, you know the kind of superhuman energy that the character Chris Traeger possessed. Positive energy, healthiness, and supplements all rolled into one relentlessly happy individual. This iconic role, combined with Rob Lowe’s acting longevity and handsome features, makes for a perfect representative of the diet program.
Dennis Haysbert x Allstate:
Absolutely iconic voice. You know the brand within the first few syllables of hearing him talk. This spot in particular goes very meta as it plays on the iconic actor’s voice-over work, so much so that his signature jargon is imitated during a fake film within a real Allstate commercial.
Capital One ensemble:
Jennifer Garner has been with the brand since 2014 while Samuel L. Jackson has made both solo and group appearances throughout his litany of commercials. One of the more notable long-standing campaigns features Jackson, Spike Lee, and Charles Barkley together. As an Official NCAA Corporate Champion, Capital One regularly goes all-in on March Madness. With the trio of gentleman featuring together regularly over the years,
Oprah Winfrey x WW (Weight Watchers):
"I. Love. Bread." Truer words have never been spoken. Oprah's uplifting and genuine nature makes for a perfect fit with the health and wellness company. She is a direct result of the success that the program can have. Oprah not only exudes her involvement via commercials; she also owns a minority stake in the brand. As one of the organization's more active ambassadors, she continues to spread the message of success through her social platforms and live virtual experiences.
Max Simpson contributes a variety of content to The Sponsorship Space, covering areas such as experiential marketing, activation analysis, and illustrating the "why" behind interesting partnerships.