Celebrity endorsement deals overlook African American talent, study finds

Cardi B appeared in Amazon's Super Bowl ad

Brands are lagging behind Hollywood when it comes to hiring celebrities of colour for endorsement deals, new research has shown.

At $1.3bn and counting, the box office revenues of Black Panther may have established the commercial value of an African American cast to film studio execs, however brands have proven less willing to collaborate with musicians, actors and personalities of colour when it comes to endorsement contracts.

Spotted, a celebrity endorsements data platform, noted that 47 celebrity endorsement deals or campaigns featuring white talent launched in Q1 2018. However, in the same time period, there were only 12 that predominantly featured African American celebs.

The latter list included FKA Twigs for Apple, John Legend for Google, Morgan Freeman for Mountain Dew and Cardi B for Amazon.

"It's hard to decipher why brands would be hesitant about working with African American celebrities for endorsement," said Janet Comenos, Spotted's chief executive and co-founder. "My instinct is that many decision makers at brands and agencies may simply identify subconsciously more with white celebrities. There's certainly some risk involved with any celebrity endorsement, but that's true for endorsers of any background – which is why marketers need to use real data and insights to drive these crucial decisions, not just their gut and personal judgment."

She continued: "It's frankly a huge missed opportunity. By limiting themselves to white celebrities, brands are missing out on appealing to diverse parts of the market. We've seen celebrities of color who appeal to a massive range of consumers for brands across industries.

"The best celebrity endorsement decisions are made based on authentic connection and alignment with a brand, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or anything else."

Comenos added that outside of America, Spotted found "significantly" less people of colour chosen to be celebrity endorsers across Europe and the UK.

"It's clearly an issue across the west, regardless of country or industry," she said.

Spotted, which combed its data on more than 22,000 brands and 13,000 celebrities for its Q1 report, also analysed the African American celebrities currently displaying high relevance to consumers in the celebrity influencer space. They ranked:

1. Jennifer Hudson

2. Tyler Perry

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! A post shared by Tyler Perry (@tylerperry) on

3. Common

4. Chadwick Boseman ​

Honored to be included in the 2018 #TIME100 list. http://bit.ly/cbtime100 A post shared by Chadwick Boseman (@chadwickboseman) on

5. Quavo​

H U N C H E L L A R O U N D ✌ A post shared by QuavoHuncho (@quavohuncho) on

6. Tiffany Haddish ​

My team did that! #SHEREADY A post shared by Tiffany Haddish (@tiffanyhaddish) on

7. Colin Kaepernick​

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