How Relying on Celebrity Influencers Can Derail Your Marketing Strategy


There are several approaches to influence marketing, from using popular YouTube stars to celebrities, business executives to everyday consumers. At Mavrck, we feel brands can get the most traction by mobilizing their existing consumer-base to advocate for the brand on social media. Some brands, however, have opted to rely on a single celebrity influencer for their marketing strategy. While this has its perks in drawing broad attention to the product or service, it can also derail an entire campaign if that influencer receives bad publicity.

If you’ve been online or watched any news this week, you’ve witnessed Subway’s Jared Fogle’s fall from grace in light of a child pornography investigation. Fogle began his tenure as a “real-life” spokesperson for the brand back in 2000, after he shed a reported 245 lbs by making Subway sandwiches a staple of his diet. Subway latched on to the story and began promoting Fogle’s weight loss as its primary advertising strategy, featuring him in over 300 commercials. His famed reputation blossomed quickly, as he began making appearances at sporting and star-studded events, and even on popular television shows.

subway-fullThough Subway has added other famous names to its payroll, including Michael Strahan, Michael Phelps, and Layla Ali, Jared Fogle’s relatability to the everyday consumer secured his role as the brand’s primary spokesperson for the past 15 years. Subway’s Chief Marketing Officer even credited Fogle with as much as one half of the sandwich chain’s growth since 1998.

On Tuesday July 7th, Subway announced it was suspending its relationship with Fogle after state and federal authorities raided his home on suspicions of child pornography. This news comes only two months after Russell Taylor, the former director of Fogle’s foundation for combating childhood obesity, was arrested on child pornography charges.

While details of the investigation and Fogle’s future remain unknown, one thing is certain: Subway is distancing itself as much as possible from the entire matter, wiping any connection of Fogle from its website, to protect its integrity and maintain the trust of its consumers.

Fogle joins the club of celebrity endorsement failures, which already includes members like Lance Armstrong (Nike), Kate Moss (H&M, Chanel, Burberry), Chris Brown (Got Milk, Doublemint Gum), Tiger Woods (Accenture), Charlie Sheen (Hanes).

What do these fails mean for brands like Subway? Relying on a single person for such heavy marketing influence power can be risky business…and expensive. Aside from the money and brand equity already spent on celebrity endorsements/spokespersons, they must now dedicate significant resources to damage control.

With 92% of consumers trusting word-of-mouth more than any other form of advertising, Mavrck’s platforms allows brands to harness the power of word of mouth marketing through their existing consumer base. To learn more, request a demo here.

About Mavrck

We all know word-of-mouth is the most effective form of marketing, but word-of-mouth automation at scale has always been a challenge. At Mavrck, we harness the power of human-to-human marketing at scale by tapping into your most valuable asset: existing customers with influence.

By focusing on influential customers who engage a high percentage of their friends around a brand's relevant topics or keywords, Mavrck's patented micro-influencer marketing platform powers consumer brands like Hershey's, Sears and Unilever to discover and activate millions of their micro-influencers to distribute content and drive conversions across social networks.

On average, our "always-on" activation engine will get 3 friends to convert for every 1 micro-influencer activated.