Ad Club Celebrates Celebrity Efforts

NEW YORK The Advertising Club today honored five marketers for their use of celebrities in marketing: Pizza Hut, Alka-Seltzer, Hanes, MTV and Johnson & Johnson.

The event, a luncheon held at the Pierre Hotel in New York, came during the first day of the third annual Advertising Week.

Each marketer showed a video clip of past ads featuring actors, sports stars and comedians and explained how celebrities helped build their brands. An estimated 365 industry executives attended the two-hour gathering, which was emceed by Al Roker of NBC’s Today Show.

Hanes and J&J aim to reveal human qualities in the celebrities they use, such as Michael Jordan and Kevin Bacon in playful ads for Hanes from Interpublic Group’s The Martin Agency and Holly Robinson Peete in last year’s update of J&J’s “Having a baby changes everything” campaign from IPG’s Lowe and Time Warner Global Marketing.

“Celebrities are really the style icons today,” added David Robertson, director of brand communications at Hanes. “We use celebrities as people.”

As a leading brand, Pizza Hut wants to be associated with leading figures in popular culture, said Bill Ogle, the company’s chief marketing officer. More simply, celebrities are “just more fun” to work with, said Ogle, who added, “If you can’t have fun serving pizza, then you’re in the wrong business.” Omnicom Group’s BBDO is Pizza Hut’s lead agency.

Alka-Seltzer’s clip focused on BBDO’s remakes of classic TV spots (including “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing”) to celebrate the brand’s 75th anniversary, while MTV’s ads featured those that urged teenagers to practice “safer sex” by wearing a condom and to exercise their right to vote (“Choose or Lose”). The “Choose or Lose” spot included Tom Cruise and Chris Rock.

“We didn’t try to use scare tactics. We didn’t try to be too cool,” said Christina Norman, president of MTV, whose public service efforts were created in-house. “It’s the rock and roll spirit and may it always thrive.”