Fashion retail store brands often spend a substantial percentage of their marketing budgets on celebrity endorsement of their brand. Why?  Because fashion advertising and celebrity based marketing results in huge awareness and revenue gains.

A case in point, Old Navy is no stranger to incorporating celebrity endorsement into their marketing efforts. In years passed the cast of the original 90210 shows, Melissa McCarthy and a Kim Kardashian look-alike has been featured in a variety of campaigns. Their current spokeswoman, Amy Poehler appears to be their most successful celebrity endorser to date, with a year-long strategic campaign that not only entertaining, but has also become an internet marketing sensation.  As reported by Marketwatch, (http://blogs.marketwatch.com/behindthestorefront/2014/03/06/why-gaps-old-navy-has-cast-amy-poehler-for-its-new-commercials/)

Old Navy has not previously used a single celebrity for several commercials, versus single one-off spots. In fact, Poehler and her writing team are playing a major role in creating and writing the spots.

Who is in charge of this decision?  Old Navy Global Chief Marketing Officer Ivan Wicksteed who joined Old Navy in 2013 after working at Nike’s Converse and Cole Haan brands, and Coca-Cola – both parent companies known for their creative and successful advertising campaigns.

According to a recent article in Forbes, Amy Poehler ranks as the sixth highest-paid TV actress of 2014, and her Old Navy endorsement deal adds $2 million to her earnings.

With 6 unique commercials having been aired this year, we took a look to see what our team thought about the campaign.

Why Amy Poehler is a good choice:

  • The ads are family friendly and entertaining.
  • The online ads have fast become viral.
  • The characters Poehler portrays in the ads don’t limit to a single target demographic, and can be enjoyed across a diverse audience base.
  • Poehler has both low-brow and high-brow appeal due to the numerous character types she has portrayed in her television and film roles.
  • She is seen as approachable because of these roles, and she is consistently positively portrayed in the media.
  • Her improv proficiency (and writers assistance) has obviously helped crafted the entertainment content to literally make the spots her own and has helped create branded entertainment content with Old Navy.

What makes Amy Poehler a poor choice:

  • Presently, Old Navy is only producing ads which Poehler as their celebrity endorsee. This single celebrity approach means Amy Poehler literally becomes the face of the brand. For audiences who don’t like her, they in turn may apply that lack of appeal to the brand.  You will often see brands which partner a selection of celebrity endorsers, or who use shorter windows of partnerships to ensure a broad appeal is garnered and to avoid any negativity one celebrity may have attached to them. This was a new move for Old Navy.
  • Poehler’s image is more appealing to a female demographic – with little content geared toward men. While women are the marketer’s core purchaser, this does alienate a male buyer.
  • The featured models used in the campaign lack diversity and limit body types to long and lean.

Who might be a better choice?

  • Ellen DeGeneres: A household name, and a comedic entertainer, she is most certainly capable of the improv and would make an excellent face for the campaign.
  • Jimmy Fallon: Like DeGeneres, Fallon is a household name and comedic entertainer. Fallon also has an appeal to families due to his start out on SNL. A rise in celebrity endorsement deals are certainly in Fallon’s future.
  • Jane Lynch: Lynch is a celebrity who is not often seen endorsing products – this creates the idea of an exclusive endorsement partnership.
  • Zoe Deschanel: No negative press, and a style icon. She could appeal to more of a fashion demographic, and certainly has high favor amongst millennials.
  • Who would not be a good choice?
  • Miley Cyrus: While great for the teen/millennial market, and definitely able to hold her own as a comic figure, she is just too high risk, and surrounded by too much controversy.
  • Sophia Vergara: Vergara is endorsed by a competitive brand already due to her partnership with Kmart. She is also a high risk celebrity for a brand like Old Navy as she often plays sexual characters.
  • Tina Fey: While we think she would make an excellent alternative, Tina Fey currently endorses American Express and Garnier – which creates the risk that she becomes over-used for endorsements.

We would like to see more of Amy Poehler and Old Navy working together in the future, and think it would be interesting to see a male celeb figure join her in her comedic escapades to broaden overall appeal of the ads.  Do you agree with us? We would love to hear your opinion.