S MS Audio, the company owned by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, recently arrived in the MENA region, kicking off at GITEX Technology Week earlier in October. And with that release, S&S became increasingly more aware of the amount of celebrities who are choosing to endorse professional equipment. We wondered whether this was a clever marketing strategy that would surely bring equipment companies more money or did this decision attempt to deter users from noticing whether a product held up its promise of a certain level of quality. To further that, did slapping the face of a famous musician on a piece of kit really affect the buyer’s decision, thus increasing sales?
We asked SMS Audio and Dubai-based Venuetech LLC their professional opinion on the benefits of celebrity endorsed professional equipment. Jerry Simons, VP of product development and sourcing for SMS Audio, states, “Endorsement does not make the product.” He continues, “And while, in the case of SMS Audio, Curtis ‘50 cent’ Jackson owns the majority share of the company, the bottom line is that endorsement is not the deciding factor on quality.
Christian Atadero, marketing executive of Venuetech LLC, provided a similar answer to Simons. “Endorsement is good for marketing, but does not necessarily guarantee strong sales output.” However, he admits, “That said, having a celebrity endorse a product helps draw attention to the product, though depending on who the celebrity is.”
Simons adds, “Additionally, the quality of the product is dependent on style and materials used, etc. What does matter is to develop quality products that have been built to withstand day to day use, provide great style and features, and which use the best drivers tuned to appeal to a broad audience. Our goal, as a company, is not to get a list of ‘endorsers.’ The goal is to build products that professionals will value.”
When asked whether he felt a piece of equipment that is endorsed by a celebrity is more likely to sell quicker than one that is not, Simons came straight out and admitted that it’s certainly an effective marketing tool. “One only needs to look at a category such as sneakers or eyeglasses to see the power of endorsement.” He continues, “However, endorsement only goes so far. The quality of the product must be there. Many endorsed products are simply not high quality in design or sound.” Atadero adds, “Companies continue to have celebrity endorsers mainly because it helps them market the product. In reality, it creates a buzz around the product.”
But even with the positive effects of an endorsement, there are sure to be negative consequences of linking a famous individual with a piece of kit. Simons comes straight out and states, “The paid endorsement companies are not trying to build audio companies; therefore, R&D suffers, or is not existent, quality suffers, and the company ends up using up the endorsement value to move quick volume.” He adds, “The consumer suffers by receiving an inferior product. In our case, Jackson is building an audio company. A lasting Audio Company based on his particular vision of providing the ability for the pro (or amateur alike) to experience studio mastered sound from each product.”
And while a famous musician endorsing a product might create a “buzz” around a product, we found ourselves questioning, do they actually have the technological knowledge to sufficiently make an endorsement. Furthermore, does this knowledge even matter? “This really will vary from celebrity to celebrity,” Atadero explains. “Others may be driven by their technological knowledge while others may be in only to build an image for the brand.” Atadero adds, “Personally and logically, I would be encouraged to buy a piece of equipment if the celebrity had the technical knowledge of the equipment they are endorsing. More so if they actually utilise it. People need to really take this into consideration before jumping at every product endorsed by a well known musician.”
So it seems that, despite the use of a celebrity, buyers are savvy to the decision to use a celebrity to sell equipment.