By: Jay K. Simmons
For several years the FDA and FTC have been considering the impact of celebrity endorsers. The FDA is now providing an opportunity for public comment on a proposed study on celebrity endorsers and the explicitness of payment disclosures in direct-to-consumer promotions. As the agency’s January 28, 2020 notice indicates, commercial advertisers have long employed celebrity endorsers, including in direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical promotion. Prior research has explored the role of various types of endorsers, such as celebrity influencers, experts and non-celebrities, in generating attention for a product. Existing research suggests that physicians and pharmacists, followed by other consumers and celebrities, are the types of endorsers most likely to influence consumers’ interest in purchasing over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.
The FDA proposes collecting new information in this area via two studies on the role of celebrity product endorsements and endorsers’ payment status. These studies are proposed to consider “the role of endorsement and payment status on participants’ recall, benefit and risk perceptions, and behavioral intentions.” This includes, first, whether the type of endorser and “the presence of their payment status influences participant reactions,” and second, the impact of different types of endorsers’ payment disclosure language, ranging from “direct and more consumer-friendly” to “less direct.”