Celebrity endorsement – literature analysis

From the literature reviewed, research into the celebrity endorsement subject could be argued to be on the different measures of effectiveness and how – if any – effects are mediated. First, in relation to effectiveness, two categories of studies can be identified: comparative studies that measure celebrity effectiveness on a relative basis with other types of endorsers (non-celebrities/ created spokespersons and third party organizations) as the comparison yardstick (e.g. Gaied, & Rached, 2010; Roozen, 2008; Menon, et al., 2001; Dean & Biswas, 2001 Tom et al. 1992; McCracken, 1989; Friedman & Friedman, 1979) and those that measure effectiveness on value creation (Seno & Lukas, 2007; Farrell, et al. 2000; Agrawal & Kamakura; 1995). Based on relative effectiveness use of celebrities and other types of endorsers has largely been advanced not to differ significantly with only a few studies (e.g. McCracken 1989; Friedman & Friedman, 1979) suggesting that celebrities have ‘special’ traits that could make them more effective than other types of endorsers. Similarly; studies (Menon, et al. 2001) that find effectiveness to be influenced by the type of product that is being endorsed mean that celebrities might still find use in marketing products.

In the second measure of effectiveness, the value creation process, the findings however support the use of celebrity endorsers. The issue of effectiveness or lack thereof could thus be argued to be influenced by the measure of effectiveness employed. On one side it could be argued that effectiveness of an advertisement is bringing the product and its qualities to the attention of prospective consumers. In such a way the customers would readily recall the product whenever they are making purchasing decisions. In that respect then the advertisement would have served as one source of information towards the purchasing decision. Other sources of information that influence the purchase decision such as peer pressure and expert information (e.g. a doctor buying over the counter medication for pain relief that is endorsed by a sports personality) could however influence the purchasing decision more than the advertisement. Regarding peer pressure; it could also be argued that aspects such as the fashion trends factor greatly into such pressure. In this regard then theoretical underpinning would be that celebrities are better placed to influence such trends (e.g. most of the celebrities’ cloth lines have not performed dismally) contrary to the perspective advanced in the reviewed literature. Effectiveness or lack thereof of celebrity endorsement on the basis of comparative surveys may thus inform more when aspects such as influence on peers and perceptions of expertise – whether celebrities or non-celebrities are perceived to bear more ‘product’ knowledge – are evaluated.

When effectiveness of endorsement is a measure of value added to the firm is evaluated the second measure – though not widely explored in research as the first – suggests the need to employ celebrity endorsers. In line with this it can be argued that advertisements should not only confer the need – “intentions” – for purchase but provide motivations that make such purchase more likely than non-purchase. It is with such understanding that McCracken (1989) notes that celebrities provide the inspiration for consumers to purchase and assume the brands personality more than the other types of endorsers do. Further it is advanced that what could be ailing celebrities effectiveness as evaluated in research could be the mismatch with products; otherwise “as long as the chosen celebrity fits snugly with the brand’s positioning, image and qualities; [he] can provide a tremendous sales boost” (Dickenson,1996, p. 1). Such then means that what could be lacking are effective strategies that help the product assume the meanings from the product and transfer these to the consumers (McCracken, 1989) rather than the effectiveness of the celebrity per se. Further the research findings do not seem congruent to current practices with certain products (e.g. sporting products) where manufacturers are partnering more with sports “celebrities.”

The second concern of the reviewed literature was mainly to evaluate mechanisms through which celebrity endorser effects are mediated. These include those that focus on source effects related to credibility (e.g. Gaied, & Rached, 2010; Amos et al. 2008; Goldsmith et al, 2001; Till & Shimp, 1998) and performance (Amos et al. 2008; Farrell, et al. 2000; Agrawal & Kamakura, 1995); endorser product match-up (Amos et al. 2008; Liu, et al. 2007; reviews in Erdogan 1999) and meanings transfer (Reviews in Erdogan, 1999; Tom et al., 1992; McCracken, 1989).

With regard to source effects explanation of celebrity endorsements; a number of limitations have already been identified in literature. In evaluating both the source effect and the match-up models various DeSarbo and Harshman (1985) for instance noted three weaknesses of these models as summarized by Erdogan (1999). First the models were advanced to be lacking in providing “measures to cope with multidimensionality of source effect”; secondly it was argued that these do not take cognizance of the “overtone-meaning-interactions between a celebrity and the product endorsed” and thirdly that a quantifiable empirical approach for the “purposed dimensions was lacking” (Erdogan, 1999, p. 304). In support of these weaknesses Amos et al. (2008) observe of the match-up model that “it remains difficult to know which dimensions should be matched between a product/brand and a celebrity” (p. 227). Such indications seem to confer some degree of credibility to the other explanation of the way endorsements work which advances that celebrities still have a role to play in advertisement strategies of entities (McCracken, 1989). go to part 9 here.

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