From Royalty to Hollywood: The Evolution of Celebrity Endorsements


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The Evolving Impact of Celebrity Endorsements

Ever notice how celebrities are everywhere, endorsing this and that? Well, it's more than just a modern-day thing. It all started with ad campaigns way back when with Queen Victoria sipping Cadbury's Cocoa or with her likeness on the chocolates and Sarah Bernhardt with a bar of Pear's Soap. Cadbury was granted its first royal warrant (aka today's licensing deal) from Queen Victoria in 1854 and held a royal warrant from Elizabeth II from 1955 to 2022. 

As mass media evolved and broadened celebrities' reach, celebs began endorsing various products such as automobiles, tobacco, and cosmetics. The advertising strategies of the time evolved as well, moving from simple celebrity testimonials to more integrated ad campaigns featuring famous faces. In this blog, Hollywood Branded will dive deep into the evolution of celebrity endorsements and how it has made an impact on print and media. top maroon rectangle w white link (8)

Radio Sparks Celebrity Endorsements

As radio became ubiquitous in American homes, the 1930s and 1940s saw advertisers tap into celebrity endorsements on an unprecedented scale, with stars like Bing Crosby and Bob Hope lending their fame and voice to promote various consumer brands. This alliance between Hollywood and Madison Avenue ushered in a new era of celebrity influence in advertising.

The 1930’s and 1940’s

During the 1930s and 1940s, the rise of radio brought celebrity endorsements to a new level, with stars like Bing Crosby and Bob Hope lending their voices to promote various products. They helped brands align themselves with the allure and glamour of Hollywood. With the advent of television in the 1950s, celebrity endorsements gained even more traction. Icons like Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball started appearing in commercials, further establishing the connection between fame and consumer products.

Marilyn Monroe and Lucille BallPhoto Credit: Carlos Diaz Artwork

The 1980s and 1990s

The approach to celebrity endorsements became more nuanced and strategic by the 1980s and 1990s. Endorsements evolved into sophisticated partnerships between celebrities and brands, often involving equity stakes, profit-sharing, and more complex contractual agreements. Michael Jordan's collaboration with Nike, resulting in the Air Jordan brand, stands as a prime example. This partnership not only solidified Jordan's status as a global icon but also catapulted Nike into a dominant force in sportswear. It's an amazing partnership, and if you haven’t, you really should watch the movie "Air.”

Directed by Ben Affleck and with a cast including Matt Damon, Jason Bateman, and Viola Davis, it's not just about basketball shoes; it's a look into the business deals and relationships behind them. But here's the cool part - it's Michael Jordan's mother who's the real game-changer. She's the one who made waves in equity celebrity partnerships by how she set up the deal for her son. Whether you're into sports, business, or just a great story, "Air" is worth a watch.

Air MoviePhoto Credit: Air/Amazon Prime Movie 

The George Foreman Grill

And who can forget George Foreman and his grill? From a kitchen gadget to a cultural icon – all thanks to some genuine love for the product. One of the most significant turning points in the history of celebrity endorsements came with the launch of the George Foreman Grill in 1994. George Foreman, a retired boxer, wasn't just the face of the grill but was integrally involved in its promotion. Foreman's genuine enthusiasm and authentic connection to the health benefits of the grill were central to its success. Rather than being merely another kitchen gadget, Foreman's full-throttle endorsement transformed the grill into a cultural phenomenon. And that… is part of an article I’ll be writing next week.

And now today, the deals that are breaking records, with Ryan Reynolds and George Clooney launching brands that have a life of their own. Celebrity endorsements have come a long way. From royal endorsements in the 19th century to sophisticated business collaborations in modern times, celebrity endorsements continue to be a powerful tool in marketing, reflecting broader changes in media, culture, and consumer behavior.

This is a great example of a celebrity endorsement with  George Forman's Grill. 

Video Credit: Youtube / SuperSaturdayTapes

The Role of Magazines and Print Media

In the era before the ubiquity of radio and television, magazines and newspapers served as the primary mediums for celebrity endorsements. They were pivotal in shaping public perception of products and brands, providing them with a touch of glamour and credibility that only a celebrity could bestow.

In the early 20th century, the celebrity culture began to flourish, and advertisers quickly realized the potential of harnessing famous faces to promote their products. Print media became a bustling marketplace where celebrity images and endorsements were featured prominently.

Magazines, in particular, offered a glossy and visual platform for celebrities to be seen in the company of various products, from beauty creams to household appliances. Icons of the era, such as actress Lillian Gish, were featured in print ads, capturing the imagination of readers and elevating the status of the products they endorsed.


Newspapers also played a vital role, often including celebrity testimonials in their advertising sections. The endorsements were frequently written in the first person, allowing celebrities to "speak" directly to readers, creating a sense of intimacy and trust. This personalized approach made the endorsement feel authentic and persuasive, fostering a connection between consumers, celebrities, and the products they were endorsing.

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Targeting a specific demographic

The strategic use of print media allowed brands to target specific demographics and cater to various tastes and preferences. For example, fashion magazines would leverage stylish celebrities to promote clothing and accessories, while sporting magazines would utilize athletes to endorse fitness products.

The visual nature of print media allowed for creative and artistic advertisements. Celebrities were often photographed in carefully staged settings, and their images were combined with eloquent prose, making the advertisements not just commercial but also artistic expressions.

This era marked a significant evolution in marketing, as it laid the foundation for the entwined relationship between celebrities and brands. It shaped the way celebrities were perceived, not just as entertainers but also as influencers and tastemakers.

The role of magazines and print media in celebrity endorsements is an essential chapter in the history of advertising. It illustrates the timelessness of celebrity influence and offers insights into the ever-evolving ways in which brands connect with audiences through familiar and admired figures.

Print and Media Photo Credit: PressGazette

Impact of Globalization and Technology

The advent of the internet and the process of globalization have profoundly reshaped the landscape of celebrity endorsements. What once were localized and often segmented marketing strategies have transformed into global phenomena, fueled by technological advances and the ever-increasing interconnectedness of the world.

  • Global Reach of Celebrities: International stars began endorsing brands across borders, expanding their reach and influence. An endorsement by a Hollywood actor or a globally recognized athlete could now resonate with audiences on multiple continents. The image and appeal of international celebrities provided a universal language that transcended cultural and linguistic barriers.
  • Digital Media and Social Platforms: The rise of social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook allowed celebrities to connect directly with fans, providing unfiltered access to their lives and personal brand preferences. Celebrity tweets, posts, and video content became new avenues for endorsements, creating a more immediate and personal connection with consumers. The lines between advertising and personal endorsement began to blur, creating a new era of influencer marketing. 
  • E-Commerce and Online Shopping: With online shopping becoming ubiquitous, celebrity-endorsed products became accessible to a worldwide audience. Limited editions, exclusive releases, and celebrity collaborations could be launched and marketed online, reaching target audiences that were previously unreachable. This global marketplace enabled niche products to find a broader audience, often fueled by celebrity association.

  • Real-time Engagement and Interactivity: Technology provided brands and celebrities the ability to engage with consumers in real-time. Live streams, interactive sessions, and virtual events allowed fans to interact directly with their idols, adding a new layer of engagement and authenticity to celebrity endorsements.

  • Analytics and Targeted Advertising: Advanced analytics and big data empowered advertisers to create highly targeted campaigns. By understanding audience preferences and behaviors, celebrities and brands could collaborate on endorsements that were more relevant and resonant. This data-driven approach made celebrity endorsements more efficient and effective.

  • Cultural Exchange and Hybridization: Globalization enabled a unique fusion of cultures, as international celebrities often bridged different cultural norms and values. This hybridization enriched the narrative of endorsements, allowing brands to appeal to diverse audiences through shared values, interests, and aspirations.

The impact of globalization and technology on celebrity endorsements represents a paradigm shift in marketing. The once-localized and specific celebrity appeal has blossomed into a complex, multifaceted global system where technology is both a facilitator and an innovator. These developments underscore the evolving nature of celebrity endorsements and highlight the myriad ways in which modern technology continues to redefine the relationship between celebrities, brands, and consumers across the globe.

Eager To Learn More?

It is advent how important celebrity endorsements and pop culture partnerships are for brands. If you are eager to learn more about how they are impactful, read these additional blogs below: 

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