Monday, August 12, 2013

Marilyn Monroe Sells out!

ROSEMARY HARRIS: Would you buy hairspray from this woman?
A hot dog? Pantyhose? The folks who purchased the late star's estate think you will.

Marilyn Monroe's Q score is one of the highest on record. (Who's higher...keep reading.)

Apparently "delebs" as deceased celebs are sometimes called, can be better at influencing buyers than living, breathing people. Why else would Princess Diana be on the cover of Vanity Fair's September issue? No disrespect, but has she bought anything new lately? Done anything lately? Put her on the (imaginary) Style Icons issue, but are they so devoid of ideas that they need to resurrect that poor dead girl every time circulation dips?

It's been a while since a celebrity has influenced my decision on anything. I think it's a positive thing for the world that George Clooney has repeatedly shone a spotlight on Darfur. I think it's great that the NBA has all those local kids' programs (whether or not LeBron James is actually the one mentoring young readers is immaterial.) But buying decisions? Stuff?

Okay - I'll give you Jennifer Hudson for Weight Watchers. The woman looks phenomenal, but does it matter if Brooke Shields uses Latisse? If Sally Field takes Boniva? Do we trust her more because she's been a nun and a labor activist?
So let me ask - have you ever been swayed by a celebrity endorsement?
And the highest Q score - Lucille Ball. Go figure.

LUCY BURDETTE: Oh yay, Lucille Burdette--another Lucy! I'm so out of this loop it isn't funny. Maybe back when I subscribed to MORE magazine, I would look at the profiles of celebs over 40 and check out their secrets. The problem is even if I end up buying the beauty product they recommended, it usually ended up gathering dust on a shelf in the closet.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Jamie Lee Curtis for yogurt? I have to say, it makes one hundred per cent no difference if a product has a celebrity endorsement. It's actually--sad. To see Jennifer Aniston for body lotion? Does she NEED the money? Is that stuff gonna make me look like her?  Um, lemme think. :-)  It's just all made up, and all for money. So--I don't care, I'm not swayed, and it's just as phony as it can be.
 (I did used to watch what Princess Diana wore, I must say. She always looked great. "Delebs?" I've never heard that word, yeesh, and wish I still hadn't)

ROSEMARY: Yeah...delebs...even worse than cronuts.

RHYS BOWEN: No, I've never seen a celeb using something and rushed out to buy it. I've seen Cindy Crawford doing an infomercial for face products and known instantly that I'd never look like that however much I spend. Maybe if one of my idols--Maya Angelou, for example, endorsed an orphanage I'd send cash.
Mind you, I am absolutely in love with the gecko. He is so cute. But I still don't have Geico insurance.

HALLIE EPHRON: Gecko/Geico - you know, I'm just getting the joke. On that subject, I do love Flo though I have no idea what brand of insurance she's pushing.
I really can't think of a celebrity sales person who's swayed me. And it really annoys me to see Alex Trebek or Ed McMahon selling some smarmy sounding insurance for old people.

Just free associating: we all want the biggest names in the business to blurb our books. Why not dead ones (deauthors)? Raymond Chandler! Agatha Christie! Stieg Larsson!

ROSEMARY: What about the rest of you..will you be buying Marilyn jewelry? 


  1. Much to the chagrin of those advertising folks, I’ll not be buying Marilyn jewelry any time soon. Like most of the commenters, the celebrity endorsement does not sway me and although I like the gecko, I don’t have Geico insurance; I like the Farmers’ commercials, but I don’t have their insurance, either. I’m hard-pressed to think of anything I might have even considered purchasing just because it was endorsed by a celebrity.
    Now if they were pushing books it might be another story altogether . . . .

  2. The frightening thing about advertising is that it often works subconsciously -- we don't always know why we purchase one product over another. Our mind is somewhere else anyway -- our job, books, our kids, that redhead across the aisle. No one admits they're influenced. But everyone is at one time or another. Advertising works.

    Checking out that Geico gecko was one of the best thing I ever did. My annual insurance on two cars went from $2100 to $900 overnight. Same coverage. 15 minutes saved me a G-note.

    Personally, I am not surprised at Lucille Ball being number one at anything. She is The Redhead of the (last) Century!

  3. Deauthors. LOL.

    I consider myself pretty "up" on pop culture and I have never heard the word delebs. And like Hank, I would have rather kept it that way.

    As for celebrity endorsement of products...doesn't sway me at all. Commercials in general just drive me crazy. I find the funny the first time I see them, and then just annoying after that.

    Now, if the JRW's joined together to endorse a product, I might give it a shot, depending on what it was of course. On second thought, nope, I'd probably save my money to buy more of their books!

  4. I have a serious problem with two of the examples you gave - Sally Field and Brook Shields - because they're shilling a prescription drug. I hate the idea of drug companies selling to the public. It isn't a perfect system, but I still believe that my doctor should be the one suggesting treatment, not the drug company.

    That aside, while I can't think of anything I ran right out to buy because I saw a celebrity endorsement, I do think more favorably about a product because someone I admire endorsed it, when there's a logical connection between the celebrity and the product. Take another example you gave - Jamie Lee Curtis and Activia. She's a little goofy, she's shilling a product that promotes regular bowel movements, and her target audience is women in their 40s and up. A decade ago, at 43, she worked with MORE magazine to do an article and photo shoot that showed the professionally made up, dressed, photographed celebrity next to the bare faced, spandex-clad real person. I respect her because of that, and so I watch her Activia commercials and believe she really likes the stuff and it works for her. I haven't run right out to buy it, but I think it's a good product. It's also a far cry from Brad Pitt hawking Chanel No 5.

  5. David, my son-in-law, was behind the Flo commercials (Progressive Insurance, BTW) for many years. The woman who plays Flo is now a gajillion-air, and we should all be so lucky.
    David once asked on Facebook who/what was the best advertising face of a product or service? I said the Clydesdales (Budweiser) without question, but he said that Flo won the contest. Hmmmmm, was that contest rigged?

  6. Funny that we all know (and mostly) love Flo but we're hard put to remember the name of the company she represents.

    I have joked that if I drink enough coconut water i will look like Rihanna, but it hasn't happened yet.

  7. Jack you were lucky with your insurance. It would have increased mine by $100/yr. I'll stick with Amica.
    I'm sorry Marilyn, Diana, and Flo - celebs don't influence me!! Dee

  8. One time at White's Café in Mojave, I let Mariette Hartley hold the restroom door open for me, but I didn't buy anything from her. So does that count?

  9. Hey, "tjo" - I know who you are! Have they won any awards for that commercial?

    I like the Clydesdales, too. Also the Budweiser frogs. And the "time to make the donuts" guy and the "where's the beef" woman. Am I dating myself?

  10. Sandi, I so agree about drug companies advertising their products. Especially in light of how pricey most drugs have gotten, largely because of how Big Pharm promotes them directly to consumers. What a weird system.

    I sold Progressive insurance back in the late 70's and early 80's, when I was an insurance agent, mostly to young men who couldn't get other car insurance. That company has come a long way, and I always enjoy seeing Flo. She's a hoot. The gecko is great, too, and since I've had a single share of the company's (B) stock for years and years, it tickles me to see and hear those commercials (on the rare event of me watching TV). But they have not urged me to change anything in my life just because they are entertaining. No more than seeing the beautiful Clydesdales has ever caused me to drink even a sip of Bud.

    However, we were talking about the Clydesdales just yesterday. Family lives in Aurora, Indiana, and whenever the local Budweiser distributor has brought one of the teams to town their beer sales skyrocket. So somebody, at least, is being swayed by such not-so-subtle tactics.

  11. Deauthors???? It might make people stop and look at your book. Maybe more relevant for science fiction? Interesting to ponder!!!

  12. Once I discovered the DVR, I never saw another commercial, celebrity or otherwise. I hate ads, and don't care much for the "buy buy buy" culture.

    I do read all the ads in the NYTimes Book section though.

    I get "Vanity Fair" & the first thing I do is rip off the first third, including the cover.

    Grumpy old lady?

  13. Lawyer hat: the publicity rights of any person (tied to privacy rights) normally die with that person, but if they were exploited during the person's lifetime, they continue-- which is how the estate of Marilyn gets to keep a tight rein on the use of her image (also, it depends what state you are in. TN law had to be changed to accommodate the Elvis estate; CA has a lot of legal history in this area, other states not so much).

    (See what comes of being an intellectual property lawyer-- copyrights, trademarks, book contracts? Push the button and info comes out!)

    I have been taking a lot of on-line surveys for the past few months, and I am afraid I am a disappointment to them-- they ask if I remember a certain commercial, and I almost always have to say no, because I tune out most advertising, or miss the point. I like the Mayhem commercials but don't know who they are touting; I keep wondering what the Chief from "The Closer" is doing touting other coverage; I love Flo but doubt I would look at Progressive, and the same is true of the gecko and the duck (full disclosure-- I have had a small AFLAC policy for almost half a century. It costs pennies a year, so I keep it.)

    I am virtually ad proof-- I totally tune them out unless they are amusing or have a dog in them, and then I tune out what they are selling. On the other hand, NO amount of advertising would ever get me to buy from Liberty Mutual after being ripped off three times by them (Insurance that nickel and dimes you isn't worth the premiums you pay). Doesn't matter who is shilling for them, or how many cute dogs are romping through their ads. But thanks for the amusement value anyway.

  14. Kristopher--now you've got me thinking....Jungle Reds endorse what? I'm thinking a luxury car as they'd have to keep us supplied. "Jungle Reds get their best ideas while driving around in a Lexus/Audi/Mercedes etc"
    But maybe it will have to be Revlon Nail Polish in our shade, of course.

  15. A Jungle Red Jaguar?
    Leopard-spotted handbags?

    I think celebs have been endorsing products for eons. anyone remember seeing the reagan Chesterfield ads resurface when he became president? I can remember Laurence Olivier shilling for Polaroid (I think) and Orson Welles for wine.

    I dislike the ones with oh-so-precious kids in them. cloying!

    Hands down this is the commerical of the moment. A Ticket to Mum. No celebs but you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll crave Indian food.

  16. "We will sell no wine before its time". Gallo, maybe?

  17. I am embarrassed during conversations like these because I am so pop-culturally challenged. I don't watch TV and had no idea who Flo was until reading this and Googling her. I do know who Marilyn Monroe is and I wish her estate would just let the poor woman rest in peace. Am I going to buy anything any of the delebs (what a horrible term that is!) are trying to sell. Pfft. as if. (sounding a little cranky this morning, aren't I? Sorry, sorry sorry).

  18. I don't watch TV unless I'm at someone else's house, so it's rare for me to see a commercial. Some of the ones I hear on the radio are clever, although I have no idea what the product is. Same thing with clever TV ads:I usually have no idea what the product is, even if the ad is entertaining!

    If I don't like an ad or if I don't like a celebrity who is endorsing a particular product, then I boycott the product. There was a food product I boycotted for years, until the person endorsing it was no longer around.

    This conversation is timely for me - yesterday one of my sisters and I were talking about how ridiculous it is for companies, especially cosmetics companies, to think that women might beiieve they could look like the celebrity who endorses their product.

    I don't like the ads for prescription drugs, either.

  19. OH! I do know of one particular product I still refuse to buy because of an old TV commercial. Charmin' bath tissue.
    Do y'all remember that weird little dude running around grabbing the TP out of women's arms and squeaking "Please, ladies! Don't squeeze the Charmin!"?

  20. The Activia commercials drive me crazy. It's a lousy, totally false product with a fabulous marketing campaign. Using Jamie Lee Curtis was brilliant.

    OK, rant complete. :-)

    Some products I recall better than others because of their marketing. (Allstate? Wouldn't be on my radar if not for the hilarious commercials.). So the advertising did its job...Creepy how insidious advertising is.

    Would Marilyn sway me? I bet an ad featuring Marilyn would capture my attention for a couple of extra seconds.

    Are there any Lucille Ball ads out there? Since her rating is the highest, why isn't she used more?

  21. Lucy? I don't remember seeing any products touted by Lucy. You got some splaining to do! I'm entertained by a lot of commercials. However I usually can't tell you what product they were for. The ones I detest the most right now are for cars that somehow have become part of the family; soppy and sentimental.
    No, celebs don't influence me at all in my buying forays. The only exception, and I'm not sure it counts, is wine. If I see a wine label that appeals to me at the store I'll buy a bottle to try it out (and keep the bottle for the label). As a result I have maybe 3 Marilyn Merlot wine bottles. And one Fess Parker Frontier Red. I was a real Davy Crockett fan. After all, I'm a native Texan. How could I not be! Anyway, the Marilyn labels are very attractive, made from photos. And she was a beautiful woman. I still will buy either wine when I see them. They're good!
    As for the gecko, I liked him better when he didn't talk. He annoys the hell out of me now.

  22. Kaye, I have a story about that Charmin ad. Back in the day I dated a guy who worked for Procter & Gamble, which made (makes? possibly) Charmin. He was the brand manager, and he gave me a t-shirt for myself and one for my then-9-or-10-year old daughter. The shirts had a drawing of Mr. Whipple holding Charmin with his admonishment.

    Fast forward a year or two, to my new boyfriend (the one I've now been with 35 years), who is a wildlife photographer. My daughter was wearing her Charmin shirt, and playing with Frisky, Steve's pet flying squirrel at the time. Frisky was adorable, and she crawled into my daughter's shirt. Where she proceeded, not so adorably, to pee right on the Charmin.

  23. Deauthors, promoting from the beyond. A little strange, and I was always unnerved by the commercial with Fred Astaire dancing or new songs released by an artist with Nat King Cole, etc. I might buy estate jewelry, but not from Marilyn's estate, not rich enough.

    Commercials with animals, I love them. . .and I have absolutely enjoyed some ads, though at this moment, I can't name any !!

  24. I howl when that gecko wails "Somebody help me, I have a flat tire."

    I LOVE it. But it wouldn't make me change insurance..

    I also love the ATT kids: "I can wave my hand and shake my head at the same time" But I'm not changing my phone service.

  25. Kendall modeled for a wine label, and I never bought a bottle. Mariette Hartley wasn't even there.

  26. I hate the yanking, moaning, pleading voices of celebs raising money for children's causes. So that's community service—right? Instead of thinking about the starving children I wonder what the celebrity did to deserve this punishment. Surely it could not be to promote their careers.

  27. Hi Guys. Sorry to barge in uninvited, but the WPA is desperately trying to reach Hank. If you see her please point her in my direction. Thanks!

  28. I love the ATT kids too. They are hysterical. That guy that "moderates" them is really good. I like being entertained but that alone is not going to push me to trying a product.

  29. Karen, that's hysterical about the flying squirrel!