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Celebrity Endorsement and the effect on ‘The Brand’. A Literature Review

1.0 Introduction

2.0 Literature review

2.1 Introduction to the literature

Research by Liu et al. (2007) suggests that brand promotion is one of the most effective advertising strategies currently available and that scientific enquiry has supported such claims (H. H. Friedman & L. Friedman 1979). It is not only their own product which benefits from the emphasis of the ‘brand’ within advertising, but the perception that the audience has on the ‘brand’ association with that of other products (Petty et al. 1983), thus the positive affirmations made towards one brand is likely to increase negative substantiation of another. The connection between brand and product has a positive impact on the purchasing behaviour of the consumer and is predominantly facilitated with the use of four primary endorsers; CEO, celebrity, expert and the archetypal consumer (Liu et al. 2007). However, it is approximated that as much as 25% of predominant media commercials and advertisement are endorsed by celebrities (B. Z. Erdogan et al. 2001) and is which the emphasis upon which this research is based. Furthermore, it is estimated that 10% of some commodity organisations budgets are spent on celebrity endorsement (Agrawal & Kamakura 1995). Celebrity endorsement is in fact, not a new phenomenon, with research indicating the use of ‘familiarity’ within advertising campaigns for approximately 200 years (Donald, 1956).

Until recently, it has been almost impossible to quantify the profitability of celebrity endorsement with only three research papers identifying value associated with celebrity media campaigns (Agrawal & Kamakura 1995; Chung et al. 2011; Knittel & Stango 2009). To quantify the value of a celebrity endorsed campaign one must be able to identify the contributing variables and counteract the impact of extraneous variables and from this, identify the direct impact of the celebrity presence on the sales of the product or brand. Agrawal and Kamakura (1995) found that overall; celebrity endorsement introduced positive assertion from consumers. In contrast, the research of Knittel and Stango (2009) explored the effect of the infamous Tiger Woods extramarital affairs and irregular behaviour with regards to his sponsorship firms, indicating an estimated loss of between $5 and $12 billion when compared with firms who did not utilise Tiger Woods as a celebrity endorser. This is related to the level of morality associated with negative celebrity endorsement. Sociological analysis of morality identifies that the celebrities own conduct (deontology) and consumers ideas and perception of their wrongdoing (teleology) are that which leads to detrimental brand affirmations (Zhou & Whitla 2012). In this case, the deontology of Wood’s extramarital affairs affected the teleology of the audience with regards to his endorsed products. The characteristics associated with his behaviour become encompassed within the consumer’s eye when internally assessing the credibility of a brand. Findings such as these are able to demonstrate the extent of which celebrity can affect the brand image within consumers.

However, as noted by Chung et al. 2011, this methodology is not directly related to revenue increase with celebrity endorsement, but rather analyses the negative capital loss experienced after a primary ‘event’; in this instance, the discovery of Tiger Woods infidelity and drug use. Nonetheless, the introduction of Tiger Woods as a celebrity endorser for Nike Golf Wear (a domain of sportswear not predominantly identified with Nike) took the industry from $120 million to $500, an increase of some 400% (Brna 2012) clearly identifying the benefits of celebrity endorsement. His impact is seen with examples such as magazine presence. Of the initial 203 editions of the ESPN magazine, 40% included photographic advertising of Nike with Woods as the endorser (Pedersen et al. 2009).

The amalgamation of celebrity with brand/product is one of complexity. Garland & Ferkins (2012) describe the skill of judgement and intuition associated with celebrity endorsement, which of course cannot be quantified for the purpose of analysis. Products and brands have a unique identity which, if to be successfully endorsed, requires celebrities to create a closer engagement with the brand to optimise the drive for consumer purchasing behaviour (Singh 2012). Evidence has suggested that a holistic version of balance theory with regards to consumer behaviour, indicated that successful matches between celebrity and brand influences a more positive “attitude toward the brand (AB), the advertisement (AAD) and purchase intentions (PI)” (Roy et al. 2012, p.33). However, research has also suggested that for celebrity endorsement to be successful, the product/brand must also have a level of worthiness already recognisable amongst consumers (Lin & Yue-yao 2011); that is celebrity endorsement is not enough as a singular element to increase sales of a particular product.

2.2 The current use of celebrity endorsement: the golden opportunities and the pitfalls

The introduction to the literature review has indicated that it is a fairly common occurrence for advertisers to use celebrities to endorse their products with a variety of forms of celebrity imagery. Companies utilise the likability and attractiveness and associated trustworthiness of celebrities to enable the same characteristic to be reflected and identified within their products (Erdogan 1999). This part of the literature will take an overall examination of the current usage of celebrity endorsement within advertising, highlighting some of the primary major successors and also include an investigation into instances where celebrity endorsement has had a negative impact on a product (e.g., White et al. 2009; Till & Shimp 1998; Spry et al. 2011).

As aforementioned, Nike demonstrated a 400% increase in their gold related sportswear after the initial pairing of the brand with the pro golfer Tiger Woods (Brna 2012). With regards to sportswear there has been literature to indicate the positives of celebrity endorsement; predominantly brand awareness and brand image building (Cornwell 1995), with the most renowned element related to the athlete testimony of a company’s particular product (Dyson & Turco 1998). One of the benefits of utilising a variety of celebrities in a marketing campaign with regards to sportswear is that it is able to reflect the wide range of products that a brand is able to offer and reaches a wider target market. Companies such as Nike, Adidas and Reebok are prime examples of organisations in which their brand marketing strategies incorporate a variety of celebrity endorsements. The use of celebrity in the sports industry has enabled a level of credibility to be fed into the products including;

“…Trustworthiness, expertise, status/prestige, likeability, assortment of physical traits…” (Temperley & Tangen 2006, p.100).

Athletes with celebrity status form an important part of the advertising system. Their status enables them to persuade consumers to commit to the brand or product that they advertise, and furthermore, can affect consumer’s ideologies with regards to the social aspects of a firm (Miller & Laczniak 2011). It is these ideologies that are likely to affect the staying power of the advertisement, in that the client is conditioned into only ever buying ‘that’ brand or product. Tim Tebow, an American football player of the professional division is classifies as one of the best football players of his time, and has specific notoriety due to his character, personal and religious beliefs, performance and positive leadership. In the US, Tebow is currently seen to endorse a variety of consumer products which have been associated to his character as opposed to his successful performance (Moore et al. 2011). The success of the products he endorses has been directly linked to the positive attitude he portrays and the categorical pristine behavioural characteristics, allowing for wide success in regards to the return on investment (ROI) as noted by the brand organisations (Ibid).

Celebrities are used for a variety of different endorsements, with film and sport star celebrities among the most commonly utilised (Kaur 2011). Research into celebrity endorsement in the marketing of pharmaceuticals has shown a positive relationship with the ROI (Findlay 2001).The literature has noted that when there is a direct to consumer (DTC) endorsement, there is an increase in the overall usage of particular medicinal products. However, the literature also notes that this likely to be due to the fact that the DTC advertising has had an impact on the prescribing behaviour of the physician (Wm et al. 2002).

However, the use of celebrity in advertising is not always beneficial. It may start with a positive effect and change after incidences with major attention in the public eye relating to the celebrity endorser. Morality and exclusivity are the predominant issues with celebrity endorsers (Knittel & Stango 2009).  The Tiger Woods scandal has already been noted within this research paper and is one of the more widespread examples of celebrity endorsement ‘gone wrong’. Sponsors of Tiger Woods including; Gillette, Gatorade, Nike, Accenture and Electronic Arts, lost approximately 3% of their market value as an entirety, with further core sponsors EA and PepsiCo losing over 4% (Ibid 2009) totalling an overall shareholder loss of between $5 and $12 billion. It is noted furthermore, that after the American professional basketball player Kobe Bryant was involved in a sex scandal, he was dropped as a celebrity endorser by Nutella, Coca Cola, McDonald’s and Spalding (Chung et al. 2011). An association between a brand and a sexual offender is unlikely to be within the financial institutions best interest and his behaviour is likely to have affected many male consumers. Edwards & La Ferle (2009) found that negative information received by consumers via celebrity endorsers (through detrimental behaviour) was related to gender, with gender identification affecting attitudes (i.e., male advertiser and male responder), yet not directly affecting the way information was processed.

Kate Moss (a British supermodel, famously linked to high iconic brands) was allegedly caught using cocaine in 2005. After the news broke within the media, H&M dropped her from their future marketing campaigns, as did the luxury perfume brand Chanel (Oxlade 2005). The tabloid portrayal of Kate Moss after the exposé of her illicit substance use highlighted the dangers of high profile endorsements. Acevedo et al. (2009) indicate that her behaviour linked H&M and Chanel with perceptions of irregular femininity, sex and drugs. Chanel is commonly recognised with attributes of elegance and grace, with previous endorsers including Catherine Deneuve (Cohen-Eliya & Hammer 2004), Nicole Kidman (Silverman 2003) and more recently, Kiera Knightly (Bergin 2011). By continuing their brand development with endorsement from Kate Moss, Chanel would have been at at risk of developing associations of drug use and masculine behaviour as opposed to that of elegance. Conceptual frameworks such as those based on morality suggest ethical implications of the brand when celebrities engage in illicit behaviour (Miller & Laczniak 2011) and in this instance; Chanel would have been at risk of breaking ethical messages with regards to the acceptability of substance abuse. However, her publicity and recognisability grew and was later encompassed in a gold statue that was said to be one of the biggest since their more common findings in ancient Egypt (CNN 2008).

2.3 The attribution element: Why the media links celebrity attributes to inanimate objects

Recent developments have linked the perception of a brand with human attributes, and are often referred to in the literature as the ‘human brand’ (Thomson 2006). The aim of the advertiser is to link the celebrity attributes to the product; that is to allow the object or brand to become innately associated with the qualities of the celebrity endorser within the mind of the consumer (Seno & Lukas 2007). The ‘match-up’ hypothesis is relevant here, in that advertiser seeks to match the idealistic beauty of a brand/product with the visual beauty of a celebrity (Kamins 1990). Evidence suggests that for an endorsed strategy to be successful, the values and attributes associated with the celebrity need to have congruence to the brand/product initially alongside an ability of the consumer to be able to relate to the celebrity (Magnini et al. 2010). Products and brands are seen to be directly affected by the influence of a celebrity endorser, and that in essence, when consumers aspire to be like the celebrity they therefore assume that purchase of the product will enable such a similarity (Escalas 2010). Thus a recurring theme is to identify the target market (TM) and utilise a celebrity equal in age/gender to that of the TM endorse the product (Hsu & McDonald 2002).

Spilski and Groeppel-Klein (2008) noted that the use of celebrity endorsement is majorly positive for advertisers due to the associations made with the product as consumers familiarise the endorser with the persona they know on screen, be it fictional or biographical. For example, when viewers witness the actor Daniel Craig on the television, they are able (and more likely to) associate him with the current James Bond and the composite of his fictional role. That is; if Daniel Craig is seen to be wearing a particular brand of clothing, the effect within the TA is that, James Bond would wear that particular brand. Moreover, the consumer would internalise that by wearing that brand, he too would be just like James Bond. Spilski and Groeppel-Klein (2008) also noted that an even higher rate of congruence of attribute to brand association was found when advertisements endorsed by celebrities were aired within the commercial break of a film/television show in which the celebrity starred. Interestingly, research has also shown that negative events within a celebrity’s personal life do not always affect the consumers perception of the brand (Bailey 2007).

When it comes to the cosmetics industry, it is clear that beauty really does sell, especially when the product is aimed at female consumers. Celebrity endorsers portray the fact that usage of a particular cosmetic has led to their enhanced beauty e.g., L’oréal utilises celebrity endorsers such as Laetitia Casta, Milla Jovovich and Andie MacDowell (L’Oreal 2012), Lancome; Kate Winslet (Lancome 2012) and Proactiv; Gabriella Ellis from the UK hit TV show, Made In Chelsea (Proactive 2012). The methodology here is that consumers will perceive the beauty and characteristic traits of the celebrity and internalise that purchasing such product will allow them a snippet of celebrity status and feel. Such celebrity endorsement is also backed up by a variety of literature (e.g., Muruganantham & Kaliyamoorthy 2009; Elliott 2008; Muda et al. 2010) and although some brands campaign for natural beauty (e.g., Dove with a variety of ad campaigns encouraging women to find their natural self) evidence suggests that consumers are still more likely to be influenced by beautiful endorsers (Howard 2005).

Societal implications suggest that all females should be attractive (Gustafson et al. 2008) and as such, a successfully matched celebrity with a consumer brand/product will facilitate internalisation of such attractive needs and as such, consumers will seek to purchase products which satisfy the need. Furthermore, cognitive theory suggests a transfer theory (McCracken 1989). This idea perpetuates the notion of accumulated societal values which links to that of celebrity. If a celebrity is able to endorse a product successfully, then via transfer theory, the attributes are witnessed in the celebrity and then conveyed into the brand/product. For consumers to experience that attribute which as a society is deemed desirable, the consumer needs to purchase the product for the attribute to be further transferred to within themselves as individuals.

Further explanations are found in the remits of social psychology, with links to attribution theory as proposed by Kelley (1967). His theory was able to allow for analysis of the connection made between the brand/product and the endorser and has been available within the literature relating to endorsement since the late 1970’s (Mowen & Brown 1981). Researchers have highlighted the general communications model (Mowen et al. 1979) based on the attribution theory as proposed by Kelley. It suggests those relationships within a triad of cognitive processes are interlinked, to involve the consumer (C), product (P) and the endorser (E). Within a product and endorsement analysis, the perceptions by C of P and E will allow for the formation of bonds between C and P. That is, an evaluation by the consumers of the endorser and the product affects his own relationship with the product. If strong sentimental and attribution relationships can be formed between P and E, then C is more likely to wish to have the same attribution bond with P, as is between P and E. This is also known as balance theory (Deephouse 1999). In essence, the simple reason why the media/advertising campaigns link inanimate objects to a persona or human attributes is because it works.

2.4 Celebrity Endorsed Products VS. Non-Celebrity Endorsed Products

It is common knowledge that promotion plays a highly significant role in achieving business goals and objectives, particularly in the field of marketing. One of the major progresses in this area is the use of celebrity involvement as a promotional and advertising tool, which works to highlight a brand and influencing consumers’ loyalty and buying decisions. Marketers strongly believe that engaging a celebrity with a product will foster a link or match between the celebrity and the endorsed brand, in the minds of consumers.

Companies invest high levels of capital to align their business and brands with celebrity endorsers (Erdogan 1999). Advertisers see celebrities as an attractive incentive for consumers, and chose endorsers whose personality traits, glamour /appearance and other amiable qualities they wish to transfer to their products. It is also generally believed that brand communication messages conveyed by popular personalities create a higher appeal, wide-scale consumer attention and recall (Agrawal & Kamakura 1995) than those messages communicated by non-celebrities. However, if we compare the ‘created spokesperson’ that a company has developed in congruency with its brand and target audience, from the celebrity spokesperson, relevant literature indicates that created characters of spokespersons are more successful in establishing a connection with a product than celebrity endorsers. This is because companies exercise full control over such characters, and as such are developed to possess particular attributes that reflect brand characteristics. Whereas in the case of celebrity products, it is a challenge to acquire a precise match with the product because celebrities have made their public persona or identity over the years and the probability that consumers link a product with endorser is stronger with original (created) characters than it is with popular endorsers. This is mainly due to the fact that celebrity endorsers are not only associated with the promoted brand but with a number of other elements (Erdogan 1999).

According to an investigative study conducted by Mehta (as cited in Erdogan 1999, p.293), there were insignificant statistical differences found between celebrity and non-celebrity endorsed products in terms of consumers’ behaviour towards brand, advertising and intentions to acquire the promoted item. However, noticeable differences were shown in cognitive reactions of the consumers. In cases of celebrity endorsed products, consumers gave more attention to the personality while in the non-celebrity scenario, the focus was chiefly on the brand and its features. These findings, however, are in contradiction to several other research studies carried out to explore the impact of celebrity endorsed products on consumer attitudes towards a specific brand. For instance, Nike’s golf ball promotion campaign that revolved around Tiger Woods was aimed at gaining the maximum from the star golfer’s high standing within the sports industry and massive fan-following. As a result of Nike’s endorsement deal with Woods, the company not only achieved great success in multiplying the number of existing customers but the celebrity player’s endorsement had a positive effect on the entire golf ball industry with a noteworthy increase in product’s demand (Chung et al. 2011).

By contracting with celebrities for advertising purpose, manufacturing companies intend to transfer the brand meaning consumers assign to a personality to the sponsoring brand. The advertising potential of celebrities is primarily defined by their popular public images, drawing from their past accomplishments such as their hit performances and acknowledged abilities. This appealing factor is a chief power of celebrity endorsers, something which is hard to attain in the non-celebrity endorsed situation.

If the value of celebrity endorsement is considered in the context of economic worth, organisations invest millions of dollars in order to enjoy the perceived benefits of celebrity endorsement; such as enhanced brand loyalty and an increase in a brand’s demand and sales (Agrawal & Kamakura 1995). Several studies have been conducted to assess whether celeb-endorsing promotion strategies produce encouraging consumer response and high profitability and also, whether the financial returns justify the money spend in such a strategy. Agrawal & Kamakura (1995) tried to measure the impact of sponsor-celebrity agreements on the firm’s anticipated profitability by employing an ‘Event study’ technique. According to the findings, a significant number of sponsors experienced high returns and reported a 44% increase in their market value as a consequence of declaring their promotional agreements with celebrity endorsers. These findings suggest that celebrity endorsement has favourable impact on the future revenues of companies.

However, few recent reports issued by the business press revealed that there are declining returns attached with involving celebrities in advertising campaigns. For instance, the demands for remunerations by celebrities are rising with many celebrities endorse several brands at the same time and may at times, shift their endorsement to competing brands. The recent negative publicity generated by some celebrities increase the risk of negative returns; however, since the use of celebrities for brand promotion is constantly practiced by sponsors, it depicts the wide-scale belief that the estimated incremental monetary gain from celeb-endorsements surpasses the original cost of such contracts.

One of the most referenced examples given with regard to negative celebrity endorsement is that of Pepsi Co. Pepsi Co. signed an advertising contract with Michael Jackson in 1984 which was statistically unsuccessful. However, Pepsi reported an 8% growth in sales which amounted to millions in revenue (Erdogan 1999).

In the light of these empirical findings and organisational reports, it would not be unfair to argue that celebrity-endorsed products are more successful in terms of desirable outcomes (purchasing behaviour, attitudes towards advertising, building brand equity and enhanced profitability) as when compared to non-celebrity endorsed products.

2.5. Consumer Attitudes towards Celebrity Endorsements

Celebrities undoubtedly have a powerful effect on the destinies of brands. That is the fundamental reason why companies are relying more and more on celebrities to endorse almost everything, from food to cars, clothes to gadgets etc. The impact of celebrity endorsement on individuals can be judged by the fact that even political parties are extremely impressed and awestruck by the potential of celebrities to influence the preferences of public opinion and thus we see many mainstream political parties use the charisma of Hollywood celebrities, sports stars and other famous personalities during elections to shape up the opinions of the masses (Veer et al. 2010).

It is surprising to discover that little research has been done to explore the consumer attitudes towards brands which are celebrity endorsed. However, the findings of various investigative studies aimed at determining the effects of celebrity endorsement imply certain traits of consumer attitudes in relation to celebrity endorsed brands. In the field of advertising which is characterised by intense competition, it is pertinent for brand promoters to adopt every possible measure to motivate and create a desire to acquire their commodity (Khatri 2006). The huge capital invested in celeb-endorsement strategies which include deals with celebrities such as Nichole Kidman (Silverman 2003), Liz Hurley (Estee Lauder 2012) and Britney Spears (CFP 2012), depict the importance of celebrity endorsement in the advertising industry. It is an undeniable fact that brands which are endorsed by distinguished personalities generate higher levels of attention and recall as compared to non-celebrity endorsed brands (Anghel 2009). This is because brand conscious people are likely to go for brands that are associated with a stylish celebrity whose likable qualities are in congruency (or a desirable quality association) with the promoted product’s features.

However, several studies indicate that celebrity advertising is not effective for all categories of products. Research conducted by Friedman & Friedman (as cited in Sun 2009, p.24) investigated how the effectiveness of different types of endorsers relate to the kind of product advertised. The research focused on a wine brand advertisement and four variables; product quality, intent-to-purchase, endorser’s likability and knowledge. All were identified to be the key measures of endorser’s influence. The findings indicated that celebrity endorsers produced a higher degree of taste expectation as compared to other types of endorsers. The researchers also suggested that of all these four variables, celebrity endorsed advertisements often generate favourable effects in terms of an endorser’s likability, whilst non-celebrity endorsed advertisements scored higher on the grounds of other three factors (Sun 2009). Several similar studies reveal that the extent to which celebrity endorsements impacts upon consumers depends upon a range of factors such as; the credibility and attractiveness of the selected personality, celebrity-brand match, type of product, target customers and message type.

Therefore, critical thinking to evoking desired responses from consumers is within the right choice of celebrity. The decision for celebrity selection should be based on his/ her high recognition, potential to make a positive effect and appropriateness in relation to the advertised product (Kotler 2009). For instance, Donald Trump and Paris Hilton have high recognition, yet they also have a negative repute (affect) among many circles. Similarly, Jim Carrey has both positive effects and wide-scale recognition; however, he would not be an appropriate ambassador to be chosen for advertising an International Peace Conference.

According to an empirical study carried out by Koernig & Boyd (2009) which studied consumers’ responses towards celebrity and non-celebrity endorsers, celebrity athletes are more influential when promoting a sports good than sponsoring any other type of brand. Petty (1983 as cited in Khatri 2006) validated the fact that celebrity endorsements work to enhance product recall. Furthermore, it was also revealed that most individuals tend to rank a product as a high-quality brand if it is endorsed by a celebrity who holds credibility regarding the advertised product’s features. For example, a gold medal triathlon athlete would be suited to advertising all purpose trainers.

Further research by Ling Chang (2011) evaluated factors that affect consumer’s buying decisions. The results indicated that attitudes by consumers towards a certain brand, of which they have high involvement, are significantly different from the attitudes of particular products with low consumer product involvement. Positive consumer attitude formation towards endorsed products can be achieved through developing and executing a strategy which encompasses all the key factors that influences consumer’s priorities and buying decisions. Celebrity endorsed products have a great potential to mould consumer’s views, thoughts and feelings about a particular brand. This is largely because such items serve to fulfil certain psychological needs of individuals. Researchers have suggested that consumers are satisfied by acquiring a product which contributes to enhancing their concept of self, that expresses and strengthens their self-identity and which allows them to enforce their distinctiveness and assert their personality (Ling Chang 2011).

Celebrity endorsed brands not only expensive but prestigious and as such they play a role in permitting consumers to experience these feelings. For instance, young adults may be content with working hard within their academic placements and attaining high grades, or others who are satisfied with their career residency. However, there are many who are not satisfied with their career development or academic achievement and may seek to build their self-identity or image by facilitating the use of brand names, changing the way they dress and carry themselves, which represents the need for self-esteem (Temperley & Tangen 2006).

According to Solomon et al. (1992), renowned personalities are very effective in promotional situations that involve social risk; that is where the consumer is aware of the impressions that will be formed towards him. Individuals, be it consciously or unconsciously, like to associate themselves with a celebrity that has a high social standing and is best known for a specific quality for which the promoted brand also reflects. This is in conformity with the Self-image Congruent Model (Hosany & Martin 2011) which suggests that consumers will select and purchase a brand when its traits match some aspect of their desired self-image. Thus, from these investigative findings and their implications, it can be argued that consumer attitudes are, to a great extent, affected by celebrity endorsed brand promotion strategies.

2.6 Summary

The overall synopsis which can be taken from the literature is that celebrity endorsement appears to create a variety of opportunities for a brand and associated products. With an approximation of 25% of television and print advertising utilising celebrities to endorse their products, it is clear that their presence is that of a positive one. It has been noted in the literature that when celebrities engage in illicit or immoral behaviour, there is a fine line between whether a brand (or the celebrity) suffers or if it adds further facilitative fuel to their publicity. Attribution plays a key part in the association of celebrity to product and appears to be one of the stronger tools media representatives are able to utilise within advertising. If the media are able to create a perfect brand-match, then the attention that a celebrity is able to provide for a brand is wide scale.

As aforementioned by Mehta (as cited in Erdogan 1999, p.293), although there appears to be no significant differences between behaviours of consumers towards celebrity endorsed products and non-celebrity endorsed products, there is a difference noted in their cognitive behaviour. A higher level of attention is paid to advertisements with celebrity endorsees and also toward the product. Factors such as the celebrity’s likability and knowledge are related to consumer’s attitudes towards endorsers. The literature has also suggested that celebrity athletes are the most successful with regards to product recall within consumers.

It is hoped that the aforementioned literature review has integrated a variety of different aspects of celebrity endorsement which will enable an ease of understanding when proposing the research questions. Although the examination has been wide in relation to gender, demographics and geographical location of endorsers and consumers, the current research will take a closer look at a subset of numerous factors identified in the literature, and apply them to a selection of UK based consumers.

3.0 Research aims and questions

The aim of the current research is to further investigate whether the level of celebrity endorsement is directly associated with the success of an advertising campaign as highlighted in the literature review. It further aims to explore if there is an association between a celebrity and the product which they endorse and if characteristics of the celebrity become entwined with the perception of the product. It also aims to examine the attitudes of consumers towards the use of celebrity endorsement.

Therefore, the following research questions are proposed;

  1. Are celebrity endorsed products more successful that those without celebrity endorsement?
  2. Of those which were advertise with celebrity endorsement, does the audience come to associate the celebrity with the product in question?
  3. Do consumers attribute characteristics to a product which shadows that of the celebrity endorser?
  4. Do consumers have a positive or a negative attitude towards celebrity endorsement?


4.0 Methodology

5.0 Analysis and results

5.1 Are Celebrity Endorsed Products More Effective than those without Celebrity Endorsement?

The product endorsement concept is not a new one. In Britain, numerous companies, such as Yardley of London, Clarins Ltd, Elizabeth Arden, Pol Roger, Peter Reed, Heinz, Bacardi, Ford Motor Co etc have been promoting themselves with the familiar slogan, ‘By Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen’ for decades. This sheds light on the many advantages a company can enjoy with the patronage of the royal family. Empirical studies completed in this regard indicate that consumers are seduced by the idea of acquiring a brand which is endorsed by a famous, widely admired and rich personality. Such transactions create an imaginary bond between the celebrity and the consumers and they feel associated with the celebrity endorser. The following paragraphs will present a comprehensive account of the research conducted to determine the effectiveness of celebrity-endorsed products in comparison with those without celebrity endorsement.

It is estimated that more than 25% of marketers in the United States use a celebrity endorsement strategy (Amos et al 2008, p.209), to advertise their brand/product suggesting that large number of advertisers consider celebrity endorsement a powerful tool to attract consumers. It also underlines the fact that companies firmly believe that celebrities have a positive impact on consumer’s intentions to purchase, their attitudes towards the products and advertisement and on several other measures of effectiveness. Additionally, the significance of popular endorsers does not merely lay in the fact that firms contract famous personalities in order to generate better revenues, but also in how these luminaries add value to a brand or company. There are numerous examples where a celebrity endorsed brand resulted in significant profits and an increased market share for the endorsed brand.

For example, the Pepsi co. deal with the Spice Girls earned the firm 2% rise in its global market share and its contract with Michael Jackson resulted in an elevated 8 % increase in sales. Similarly, Nike’s contract agreement with Michael Jordan grossed approximately $800 million (Rovell 2008), with Tiger Woods they gained 4.5 million more consumers and around $59 million in retail revenue (Chung et al 2011, p.3). Their endorsement by Venus Williams caused a dramatic annual increase of $8 Million Reebok Inc. sales (Al Zoubi & Bataineh 2011).

According to a study by Christina Schlecht (2003, as cited in Al Zoubi & Bataineh 2011), under the right circumstances, celebrity endorsement promotion strategies often justify the costs incurred in this mode of advertising. Another investigation by Atkin & Block (1983 as cited in Edrogan 2010, p. 294) revealed that endorsement by celebrities creates favourable effects on the attitudes of consumers towards advertising along with enhanced buying intentions as compared to non-celebrity endorsers. Dr. Vipul (Vipul Jain 2011) showed that 56% of sample consumers agreed to the assumption that celebrity endorsed goods are of high quality. He also studied the responses of participants regarding apparel purchases and found that out of five decision influencing factors; luxury, brand name, celebrity, instant need and self-esteem, the celebrity factor occupied a significant level of 22%. Vipul’s research findings also revealed that 48% of subjects were motivated to make a purchase because of celebrity endorsement. One of the chief reasons behind the wide-scale use of celebrity endorsement and investment of billions of dollars in such advertising practices is the rising competition for new product proliferation and building consumer consciousness. This has compelled marketers to hire glamorous, attention-diverting movie, television or sports stars to support brand promotion (B. Z. Erdogan & Drollinger 2010).

However, using celebrities to make company offerings more appealing does not always work. This is due to several factors associated with the selected personality. For instance, Pepsi had to face severe consequences in terms of its public image when its million dollar spokesperson Michael Jackson was alleged for drug addiction and child molestation. Another of its major celebrity endorser Mike Tyson, a champion boxer, was convicted of rape. Even though contract with Michael Jackson earned Pepsi an 8%global market share, the deal didn’t last long to yield the anticipated benefits Since the essence of celebrity marketing is using a personality’s credibility, recognition, trustworthiness for building brand image and by making them endorse a particular product the intent is to transfer celeb unique likable qualities to the brand, the strategy can result in a disaster if the choice of celebrity endorser is not made efficiently (Jones 1999).

Even though signing billion dollar advertising agreements is no guarantee of producing remarkable outcomes in terms of product awareness and profit, there is strong evidence to suggest that advertising campaigns involving celebrities deliver a premium in terms of brand memorability and impact on consumers. This suggestion has been further validated by a study conducted by Gallup & Robinson Inc. (cited in Jones, 1999, p.194) in which careful assessment of 248 celebrity featuring printed ads was done over the period of 11 years, from 1982 to 1993. It was found that celebrity ads showed a 34 percent higher level product recall than those ads without celebrity.

Consumers are generally interested in celebrities’ private as well as professional lives which can be judged from the great success of celebrity features in magazines such as the National Enquirer, People, and Vogue etc. Any information that provides an insight into celebrity lives easily grabs public attention. Therefore, familiarity with popular celebrity endorsers motivates consumers to take an interest and pay attention to the advertisements that features them (Jones 1999, p.195). The effectiveness of celebrity endorsement also largely relies upon the way celebs are used in promotional campaigns. For instance, when Tally Savalas endorsed Gillette Twinjector in an advertisement wearing a hat, it generated a normal response from viewers and did average to create awareness. However, when Savalas took off his hat to reveal his famous bald pate, the consumer recall level was several times higher (Jones 1999).

Amos et al. (2008, p. 214), states that consumers view celebrity endorsers as credible sources of information with regards to the product they endorse. Source credibility refers to communicators’ positive traits that influence the receivers’ acceptance of an advertising message. According to Edrogan (1999), the effectiveness of celebrity endorsed products depends upon the perceived reliability, level of expertise and credibility of the chosen endorser and also upon how well the celebrity’s qualities are congruent to the product advertised. Research aimed at examining the perceptions of endorsement by Rashid & Nallamuthu (2002, cited in Balakrishnan & Kumar 2011, p. 99) suggested that engaging a renowned celebrity as an endorser instead of an anonymous endorser could assist companies in improving the ratings of the advertisement, yet it doesn’t guarantee a change in consumer purchase intentions and attitudes. The reason behind this as explained by Baker & Churchill (1977, cited in Balakrishnan & Kumar 2011), is that celeb endorsement works more to effect the cognitive aspects of consumer attitudes rather than the behavioural aspects.

From the above given research evidences and academic literature, the importance of celebrity endorsement as a brand or company promoting tool has been established and it is safe to claim that, if utilised appropriately, celebrity endorsement advertising plans can serve better to create a desire among consumers to buy a brand as compared to non-celebrity advertising.

6.0 Discussion

7.0 Conclusion

8.0 References


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