A client recently asked whether their TV commercials should feature their company’s owner. It was a good question. Like just about any business decision, there are pros and cons to using a company’s owner or president as the spokesperson. However, in the majority of cases, we typically recommend using a professional actor.
The first reason is tied to “first impressions.” A good actor is trained to make a great impression on-camera in the 30 or even 15 seconds of a typical commercial. This “impression” is linked to the company in consumers’ minds. And, while most company owners and presidents are truly smart, terrific individuals, they just aren’t as skilled at making that instant on-camera impression.
When you consider that everything about your company reflects on the owner or president and you add in the investment you make for advertising, doesn’t it make sense to be sure your commercials deliver the best possible impression?
It comes down to recognizing that doing what you’re good at … and letting others do what they’re good at … will generate the best possible results for your company.
After all, you wouldn’t expect Tom Cruise to know how to underwrite a mortgage loan or repair an HVAC system. There’s no shame in a company owner or president admitting that a professional actor can make a better impression on camera.
There are some practical reasons to consider a professional actor as well. The first involves the long-term equity you’re building in your company. If an owner or president is too closely tied to a company’s brand, that brand could suffer a serious loss of value if that individual ever wants to retire or move on. That could depress a buyer’s offering price or hamper succession planning … even if the business is being passed on to children or other family members.
Of course, as in anything, there are exceptions. So, when might it be “ok” for an owner or president to appear in their own commercials? If the individual in question is a terrific public speaker or has acting experience, they will likely be able to deliver on the “first impression.” And, if there is no concern about selling or building intrinsic value in the business itself, there would be little concern about the president or owner functioning as the spokesperson.
The bottom line is that, typically, a president or owner appearing in spots has very little upside other than the occasional ego boost of being recognized in public. While some say that appearing “local” is a tremendous selling point, appearing as “polished” as possible will trump it every time.
There’s a reason that, for brands who can spend millions on research and advertising testing, you rarely if ever see a president or owner as the spokesperson. Their owners and presidents know what they’re good at, and they leave the on-camera work to the professionals.