Does the CEO Make an Ad More Credible?

Good news, relatively speaking, for CEOs who’d like to get their faces on TV: In polling conducted among LinkedIn members for AdweekMedia, relatively few respondents said seeing the CEO in a company’s advertising makes the message less credible — though well under half said it makes the ad more credible.

The poll, conducted in late May and into June, posed the question: When a company uses the CEO in its advertising, do you find the message more credible, less credible, or does it make no difference?

Overall, “makes no difference” won a plurality, with 49 percent of the vote. But “more credible” beat “less credible” by a wide margin, 36 percent to 14 percent. To see the full results of the poll, click here. And to participate in another ad-related LinkedIn poll for AdweekMedia, click here. (Shown: Charles Schwab, who often appears in his firm’s ads.)

Respondents who are owners of companies might have been expected to feel a CEO would be an asset to an ad’s credibility. Instead, a below-average percentage of them (30 percent) said they find the message more credible when the company’s CEO is in the ad. Fifty-nine percent of owners said the CEO’s presence doesn’t make a difference one way or another, and 11 percent said it makes the message less credible.

Among participants in the poll who are “C-level and vp” executives, a higher number (38 percent) said the CEO would be an asset to the ad’s credibility. But this cohort also had a higher-than-average number saying the message would be less believable if graced by the CEO’s presence (19 percent). These latter respondents may have special insight into CEO verity (or lack thereof) that leads them to doubt the efficacy of using the big boss as corporate spokesperson.

Contrary to what you might expect, the poll’s 18-24-year-olds were the age cohort most likely to say the CEO would make the ad more credible, with 43 percent saying so (vs. 13 percent saying “less credible” and 44 percent “makes no difference”). The 55-and-olders, who’ve seen their share of CEO-pitchmen over the years, were the most likely to say the CEO’s presence would make the message less credible (17 percent).

Perhaps having had the experience of putting words in CEOs’ mouths, respondents in “creative” jobs had a higher-than-average number saying the CEO would make the message less credible (29 percent) and a lower-than-average number saying the CEO would make it more credible (25 percent).

Nielsen Business Media

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