The Riskiest Brand Endorser

They should have awards for these type of things – who’s the biggest celebrity risk to endorse your brand? If it were an awards show, that “honor” would go to Kim Kardashian.

The fashion and retail industry spends the most on advertising dollars per year in the U.S. — $43 billion, or 22 percent, of a total $206 billion in 2017, to be exact. According to a new report on celebrity endorsements from marketing data and research firm Spotted, fashion and retail brands are still pretty clueless when it comes to aligning with the best famous face. Not only are brands’ celebrity choices generally inconsistent, notes the report, but there’s a large opportunity for backlash once a partnership goes public. Spotted assesses a celebrity’s “risk score” by taking into consideration more than 20 factors, including inappropriate or offensive behavior, divisive political views and scandal, as well as how recently these factors occurred, recovery (or damage control) and the likelihood that these risks will happen again in the future.

The Riskiest Brand EndorserAs for the riskiest celebrity choice, that spot goes to Kim Kardashian, who lands within the 100th percentile. The report points out Kardashian’s “inappropriate public behavior,” ranging from the time that North West took a supposedly scandalous photo of her for Instagram to defending Jeffree Star’s racist comments. “Even though Kim Kardashian supports over 22 charities and causes, she lacks consumer trust and is perceived risky among consumers,” explains Spotted.

Despite her ranking, she’s racking up the endorsement deals. Calvin Klein’s new jeans and underwear campaign, Fendi’s latest campaign for its Peekaboo bag, along with her momager Kris Jenner and oldest daughter North West. And how can we forget her errand-running lookbook for Yeezy Season 6.

From Spotted’s analysis — which also highlights personality match, consumer approval and audience match — more than 75 percent of all fashion and retail endorsement deals result in low consumer approval. Overall, luxury brands make the weakest choices compared to mass-market labels. “The creative directors of these high-end labels tend to use celebrities as creative ‘muses,’ even if every indication shows that the celebrity is a poor choice,” says Spotted CEO Janet Comenos.

As for which celebrities have the lowest consumer approval, the results are, unfortunately, also Kardashian-adjacent. Amongst the bottom-five famous faces who can negatively impact a brand are Kendall Jenner, who mostly books luxury-level campaigns, including Longchamp, Fendi and Missoni, and Hailey Baldwin, whose endorsement deals include Tommy Hilfiger and Levi’s.

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