Why J-Law & George Clooney Don’t Matter: Saatchi & Saatchi COO

Jennifer Lawrence

This article was written by Chris Foster, Chief Operating Officer of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, first appeared on USA Today.

I glimpsed the future of celebrity last year watching the League of Legends world championship in Seoul. Just who were these elite pro gamers with rabid global fan followings, who were landing huge endorsement deals and whose hours-long tournaments were filling sports arenas worldwide? And what does the phenomenon have to say about the future of marketing and advertising?

Snap poll: Who is the bigger celebrity, Swedish videogamer PewDiePie or Academy Award-winning actress and Hunger Games and X-Men franchise star Jennifer Lawrence? The answer might surprise you. According to a Variety article from last year, YouTube stars are now more popular than mainstream celebs among U.S. teens. A survey of 1,500 13- to 18-year-old teens placed a popular group of online personalities against celebrities with the highest “Q scores” in terms of qualities such as approachability and authenticity. The results: The five most influential figures among American teenagers are all YouTube sensations.

The Internet and social media are changing the nature of celebrity in ways that hold enormous implications for advertising and marketing. Cognitive science taught us that brands are defined by the company they keep and the matrix of associations that close proximity generates. That led to widespread use of celebrities and authority figures in advertising as a shortcut for products to generate feelings such as trust, safety, security, quality and even sex appeal. Social media has now upended all that — with word-of-mouth and endorsement with genuine credibility trumping celebrity pitches.

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Feature image source: wikimedia.org / by Gage Skidmore