Like many of you out there, I suspect, I’m a rather reluctant user of LinkedIn. The site bills itself as “the world’s largest professional network, with hundreds of millions of members” and promises to “connect the world’s professionals … and make them more productive and successful.” However, my experience of using the site suggests it doesn’t live up to its own hype. In fact, I’ve always found it to be a rather depressing experience. This is mainly down to the fact that I’ve never actually managed to get any offers of work through LinkedIn. Instead, I get lots of people asking to be added to my network and whilst it’s great to be connected to other EFL teachers, I can’t help noticing that a fair number of requests are from cleaning companies, SEO specialists, and various other firms all keen to sell me their services. Then I get lots of emails telling me to write and congratulate someone I don’t know on a work anniversary somewhere I’ve never heard of . . . and finally I get asked to endorse people. Messages pop up asking whether or not I’d say someone I can’t remember ever connecting with is good at teaching. Or training. Or gardening. Or something! Sometimes people message me saying they’ve endorsed me, so could I please endorse them. LinkedIn seems to encourage this kind of mutual backscratching so I always feel like a bit of killjoy when I write back explaining that I don’t really feel I can write nice things about someone I’ve never even met, let alone seen teach. Or train. Or garden!
I mention all of this because while I was doing a Facebook Live Q&A session on our Facebook page last Saturday morning, a Brazilian teacher asked what ‘endorse someone’s skills’ means – and I suddenly realised I’d never heard the words used together away from LinkedIn, and that more commonly you hear about celebrities endorsing products. Well, to be more accurate, celebrities being paid to endorse products. In fact, the sums that stars receive to promote particular products are often astronomical! For instance, Samsung recently paid Jay Z $20 million to tell you how much he loves the Samsung Galaxy phone, while David Beckham signed a lifetime deal with the sportswear brand Adidas that’s worth more than $150 million! Nice work if you can get it!
Celebrity endorsements may just mean celebs allow their images to be used in adverts for certain products, or it may mean they mention things on social media. There may even be covert product placement in promo videos. That perfume you saw a famous pop star dabbing on before a hot date? Look closely and you’ll see they use – or at least pretend to – Chanel No. 5! Marketing has become so sophisticated that nowadays it’s safe to assume that almost any time someone famous mentions a particular brand or product, they’ve been paid to do so!
In the run-up to an election, celebrities also often endorse particular candidates. The 2008 US presidential election was notable for the fact that so many people from the worlds of sport and entertainment lined up to endorse Obama, in the hope of getting more young people to vote. Last year’s election was also quite remarkable in that hardly anyone you’ve ever heard of publicly endorsed Donald Trump! Not that that seemed to make any difference to things, of course. And I’m sure that if you asked him, he’d tell you I was spreading fake news and that really hundreds – and I mean HUNDREDS – of stars endorsed him!
- Do you use LinkedIn? Why? / Why not?
- Would you ever endorse the skills of someone you didn’t know? Why? / Why not?
- Can you think of any recent celebrity endorsement deals? Or celebs who endorse particular brands?
- Can you remember the last time you felt like a bit of a killjoy?
- Have you heard any examples of fake news recently?