Testimonial propaganda is a very popular and clever tactic used by companies to endorse their products effectively. Find an explanation of testimonial propaganda in this MarketingWit article, along with some examples.
He doesn’t make H&M clothing look good, he makes it look great.
― Marc Forster
(on David Beckham’s association with H&M )
The Webster’s Dictionary defines the word testimonial as, “a written or spoken statement in which you say that you used a product or service and liked it.” Thus, it is no surprise what a testimonial in advertising is. The same source cites this as the definition of the word propaganda―ideas or statements that are often false or exaggerated and that are spread in order to help a cause, a political leader, a government, etc. While these ideas may not be completely false, they certainly may be exaggerated, as is expected during the promotion of any product or service.
It is not rare to turn on the TV or flip through a newspaper or magazine and find a celebrity or an expert endorsing a particular product for a particular brand. When we see our favorite rock star or favorite actor promoting any product, our instinct is to trust his/her claim and buy the product. This is a clever advertising strategy used by brands to attract customers, one that almost always results in a good boost to sales as well as to the image of the company. This strategy is referred to as a testimonial propaganda in the world of advertising and promotions.
Testimonial Propaganda: Meaning
Testimonial propaganda is an advertising technique wherein a famous or seemingly authoritative person recommends a product or service, and vouches for the value of the same. The popularity of the person recommending the product (who is generally a celebrity/acclaimed expert) is used for boosting the sales of that product, without addressing the facts about the product itself. The reason behind this technique is to make the target audience relate to the tastes, judgment, and opinion of the one endorsing the product.
In case of celebrity testimonials, the target audience trusts the judgment and recommendation of the celebrity figure, and feels that if the celebrity thinks the product is good, it actually will be good. However, testimonials are not always about celebrities. Sometimes, the testimonial propaganda technique uses experts on that subject, such as doctors or engineers, to promote the product. The idea is to convince the audience that since it is recommended by experts, it must be good.
Another kind of testimonial propaganda involves the promotion of a product or service by the customers themselves, through reviews and word-of-mouth. This is true especially in case of promotion of products on a website, where previous customers write their own experiences of the product for other potential customers to decide if they want to buy that product or not. Potential customers tend to trust the judgment of other customers who are just like them, a representative of a large portion of buyers.
Testimonial propaganda can be observed in politics too. Celebrities and respected individuals can be used to support/badmouth a particular political party or candidate. The idea is to help prospective voters identify with a famous person, and trust his/her judgment. This is a key tactic in earning the faith of prospective voters, and eventually their votes.
Testimonial Propaganda: Examples
We can find several famous instances of testimonial propaganda in television commercials as well as in various ads that are showcased through print and online media. Given below are 8 examples of the same.
Example 1: PepsiCo
PepsiCo has used celebrities such as Britney Spears, Beyonce, Michael Jackson, David Beckham, Shakira, and Kanye West, among others, to endorse Pepsi.
Example 2: Puma
Puma pays the World’s Fastest Man, Usain Bolt, for lending his name to the famous label and to endorse their running shoes as well as other sports accessories.
Example 3: H&M
A global icon and the heartthrob of women of all ages, David Beckham has lent his name to the clothing multinational brand to endorse the brand’s selective and exclusive men’s collections.
Example 4: Dior
The exclusive, elegant French fashion house makes use of the stunning Natalie Portman to endorse its Miss Dior label.
Example 5: CoverGirl
The popular American makeup brand has used several famous and stunning celebrities to endorse its products, with Katy Perry being the very latest one.
Example 6: Smartwater
Glacéau Smartwater has the gorgeous former FRIENDS star, Jennifer Aniston endorse its purified drinking water.
Example 7: Chanel
Brad Pitt became the first male face to lend his name to one of the brand’s leading products, the Chanel No. 5 perfume.
Example 8: Heineken
The Dutch brewing company had Daniel Craig, as James Bond, lend his name and identity to its beer.
By now, you must have gotten a fair idea about what testimonial propaganda is and how it works. When successfully implemented, testimonial propaganda results in the target audience automatically or subconsciously associating the image and identity of a celebrity or famous personality with a brand/product, which inevitably leads to a boosting of sales as well as the brand’s reputation.