Humans are really susceptible to peer influence.  Association of a known person to a product or service can pay huge dividends, as long as the person is relevant to the product in some way.

Sometimes the person is not a specific known person – like when you put a pretty girl next to the testosterone producing new car.  The association the audience makes is that pretty girls are attracted to men with these vehicles.

If the association is with a known person, the more relevant the person, the more effective the endorsement.

Celebrities work well if they connect to the potential target group.  Especially, if the celebrities are product users or they (or their known TV or film characters) are relevant to the product.  When the celebrity has virtually no association, their names can still be used to grab awareness.  But the effectiveness will wear thin as people start to view the celebrity as a shill, someone just endorsing for the money.  This can hurt the celebrity as their credibility declines and the effectiveness of the associated advertising goes with it.

Who is the ultimate endorser?  I guess the folks who advertised Hebrew National hot dogs in New York found one in God.

They advertised that their hot dogs not only met all the Federal meat standards, but because they were kosher, their quality “answered to a higher authority” and it worked for them.  It was so powerful, they eventually migrated the advertising slogan into their packaging.

Or consider all the Coca Cola ads where Santa is enjoying his coke.  Heck, Calexis even signed a deal with Santa to endorse gas fireplaces years ago.  (We will be auctioning off his signed agreement on ebay shortly.  It will come with a certificate of authenticity.  What is a Santa Claus autograph worth these days?)

That brings me to another Christmas themed ad I saw recently.  It was advertising what could be called “Jesus Coins” in a US newspaper.

These coins are essentially 2000 year old drachmas that have been positioned in the ads as “coins from the time of Jesus birth” just in time for Christmas.  The ad highlights that the drachma was “well known to Jesus and his followers” – no supportive affidavit is provided – and then quotes a translated parable that mentions the word “drachma.”  It further claims, that coins like this could have been used to purchase gifts for baby Jesus (in case you were thinking of this as a possible Christmas gift yourself).  The coin, it is claimed, was issued by one of the three kings who sent his emissaries to visit the birth of Jesus.  No documentation is provided to confirm this.

Wow!  It is almost like they have a photograph of Jesus with the actual coin you will buy, in his hand.

Despite the highly tenuous connections, this ad works hard to connect some old coins using Jesus as an endorsement.  One of these coins, with a certificate of authenticity, can be yours for $50 plus shipping and handling.

The ad is clearly preying on those who know nothing of coin collecting and who simply want to connect with Jesus.  Does it work?  Can you fleece the faithful?  You betcha!  Notice any the TV preachers rolling in cash?

Now where I can I put my hands on branches from the Buddha’s own tree…  Okay, maybe leaves from a pipal tree pretty much like the one that Siddhartha Gautama is supposed to have sat under.  A limited number of these leaves are available.  Call today for your biologically friendly piece of Nirvana.

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