Effectiveness of Celebrity Endorsements

The effectiveness of use of celebrities to endorse a firm’s brand or products has been evaluated in various studies. Most of these have compared the effectiveness between celebrity endorsers and non-celebrity spokespersons. In early studies celebrities were generally advanced to be more effective than any other forms of endorsers such as managers, professionals and consumers (Friedman & Friedman, 1979). With time however other perspectives have developed when celebrities are compared with endorsers such as spokespersons created by firms.

Erdogan (1999) for instance notes that by using created spokespersons companies have a higher control on the outcomes than when celebrities are used. This is advanced to be the case because the spokespersons’ characters can be moulded in line with the firm’s brand and target audience (Tom, Clark, Elmer, Grech, Masetti, & Sandhar, 1992). For celebrities however this would not be the case for since they bring along already developed characters into the contract (Erdogan, 1999). Tom et al. (1992) conclude that whereas celebrities help the company in the short term to generate increased attention; created spokespersons are more effective when a long run association with the product is desired. By being associated with other aspects apart from the product (e.g. songs, sports or movies); celebrities’ perceived relationship with the product is though to be less strong in comparison to that of the created spokesperson whose exposure is solely with regard to the product (Erdogan, 1999).

Accordingly, Mehta (1994) does not find any significant differences to arise in audiences’ attitudes towards advertisements and brand and their purchasing intentions when celebrity and non-celebrity endorsers are used. Cognitive responses are however noted to differ between celebrity and non celebrity endorsements (Mehta, 1994). While commercial attitude bore no influence on both buying intentions and brand attitudes for non-celebrities’ endorsements, it influenced the intentions and attitudes where celebrities were used (Mehta, 1994). Source linked thoughts also did not influence persuasion in the non-celebrity category but bore such influence in the celebrity category (Mehta, 1994). These cognitive differences were attributed to different communication processing mechanisms (Mehta, 1994).

Analysing students’ attitudes towards three products’ (candy bar, beauty product and laptop) advertisements; Roozen (2008) also does not find any relative effectiveness when celebrities are used. In this study attractive non-celebrity endorsers are found to be equally effective as celebrities “in influencing attitudes and purchase intentions … across very different products” (p. 16). It is with such understanding that Menon, Boone and Rogers (2001) had earlier noted that celebrity endorsements were not effective when some products are considered. Khatri (2006) explains this by noting that only when star appeal is seamlessly integrated to the marketing strategy does positive effects on the brand or products become realized.

Using a different measure – economic worth – however Agrawal and Kamakura (1995) found celebrity endorsers to be effective. Through an event study methodology the study analysed the impact of announcements of 110 contracts of celebrity endorsement on the stock returns of the firm; and found out that celebrity endorsement positively impacted on the stock returns of the firms (Agrawal & Kamakura, 1995). Such finding was reinforced two years later in a similar study (Mathur, Mathur & Rangan, 1997, cited in Erdogan, 1999). In a recent study Seno and Lukas (2007) demonstrate that both the endorser and brand images are mediators in the firm’s wealth creation process. McCracken (1989) had earlier argued that through a meanings-transfer mechanism, celebrity endorsements are able to generate wealth to the entity. These diverse research findings thus indicate that celebrity endorsements could have their share of benefits and shortcomings. Go to part 4 here.

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