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Smartphone Endorsements: What do celebrities get for saying ‘I do’?


Every smartphone manufacturer strives to incorporate the best technological specification in their product. With every major player launching their annual flagship phones with competitive features, the size of the customer-base boils down to the marketing techniques. While the smartphone industry continues to evolve and grow, the need of the electronic gadget in one’s life has taken the form of a style statement or a status symbol. A part of the shift is to be attributed to the way smartphones are advertised. Smartphone endorsements are no longer frivolous and unimportant.

Smartphone endorsements are designed well enough to target a particular set of customers specifically. Thus, the person who is to sell the gadgets to the customer needs to be selected accordingly. This is because a viewer tends to associate the smartphone to the person endorsing it. Ashley Lane, spokeswoman of Samsung says, ” We recognize that celebrities are influencers, and the best way to endear them to our products is to get the product into their hands to try for themselves.”


Why do celebrities endorse smartphones?

Having said that, the relationship shared by smartphone manufacturers and public figures is more mutually beneficial than you would think it is. While the manufacturers get to popularize their product, the celebrities who endorse it, get to use the latest technologies. They also earn popularity among the customers or even use it as a channel for massive earnings. There are celebrities who have been associated with smartphone companies for years, and hence have built loyal relationships with the respective manufacturers.


While Katrina Kaif has long been associated to the Sony Xperia smartphones for around 4 years, Ranbir Kapoor has become the brand ambassador for Blackberry phones in India. Shahid Kapoor was quoted saying, ” I’m very happy to be a part of this association considering the fact that Aamir endorsed this product before me. It is prestigious and I’m excited because I haven’t been doing any commercials for a while now. I’m happy to start this journey again,” when he was signed as Samsung’s brand ambassador.

A lot of brands give free devices to these public figures. Motorola had given free units to celebrities when it launched the MotoRAZR in 2004. Once a celebrity is associated with a phone brand, the social media and buzz marketing techniques popularize the phone. Many phones are proud of the features they encompass. Blackberry phones are known for their security services, thus making them a popular choice among world leaders. Agility to run third party apps and regular software updates of Samsung phones have helped it gain some loyal associates.

Do celebrities swear by the smartphones they endorse?

While all famous cellphone brands are investing heavily of celebrity endorsements, a lot of celebrities reciprocate by being loyal to them. On the other hand, some others do not believe in the products they endorse. Smartphone companies often use the technique of ‘seeding’, i.e. giving free phones to celebrities to popularize their phones. They do this in the hope that their devices will use it. While some celebrities are kind enough to use the devices, they tend to stick to their original phones in the long run.

Many other popular celebrities who are paid to endorse specific smartphones tend to betray the gadgets. LeBron James for instance, tweeted about a malfunction in his Samsung phone, in the year 2014. This was followed by him quickly withdrawing the tweet after an official contacted him. Everyone remembers the famous Academy Awards selfie clicked by Ellen DeGeneres using the Samsung Galaxy smartphone.Samsung went on to donate $1.5 million each to two of Ellen’s charities as a thank you.

However, all her backstage tweets were posted using her iPhone. Oops.


Celebrity earnings from Smartphones Endorsements

While a major chunk of celebrity earnings come from endorsements, there are many cases when they cut down on the amount charged due to their belief in the product. Although the exact figures are not disclosed, it is known that most celebrities sign deals worth crores to become the brand ambassador of products.

Take Gary Oldman for instance. The actor was paid a staggering $12 million for promoting the HTC One M8 when it launched. One advert had him literally say ‘blah blah blah’ – equating to $3 million for one ‘blah’ if you look at it that way.

The same company had earlier paid Robert Downey Jr a similar amount – about $12 million for another ad campaign on which it spent $1 billion.

While a premium smartphone is a star product in itself, a celebrity advocating for it makes it more popular. Sonam Kapoor believes in the concept of integrating technology with impressive designs and hence enjoys endorsing Oppo mobile phones.In such cases, the brand ambassadors form a relationship with the brand that goes beyond the monetary clauses in their contracts. Oppo has spent over 100 crores on the campaign, a large chunk of which is said to have gone to Sonam and Hrithik.


Does the average customer fall for it?

While celebrity endorsements do win a large customer-base for the manufacturers, it also takes attention away from the complete technology packed in the hand-held device. Martin Lindstrom, author of Buyology claims that the customer does not place much importance on endorsers betraying their respective brands. That also hints at how the audience tends to place higher value on the attractive endorser than on the smartphone. This might be more of a negative impact than positive, in the long run.

Marketing teams should focus on relevant hands endorsing the products. People like technological journalists, app developers, tech-entrepreneurs might have a greater involvement with the technologies in the phone. They might have a greater value-add as they are knowledgeable and passionate about the specifications of a smartphone.

However, the process of roping in popular household names for endorsing products is a traditional tried-and-tested formula for most companies. The market trend might or might not shift soon. But it is a definite fact that smartphone companies invest a lot in getting celebrity endorsers for their products.


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