Mechanisms through which Celebrity Endorsements work

The effects of celebrity endorsement have been postulated to be brought about through various ways. The first category of these theories suggest that celebrity endorsements make their mark through source (celebrity) influenced mechanisms. These include source credibility (Erdogan, 1999) and source performance (Amos, et al., 2008). Beyond the source characteristics other models that try to explain the effects of celebrity endorsers are the product-matchup theory (Liu, Huang & Minghua, 2007) and the meanings transfer theory (McCracken, 1989).

Source effects models

First it is postulated that the source credibility plays a big role in the effectiveness of celebrity endorsements (Erdogan, 1999). According to this hypothesis the message that is brought out through the endorsement bears a positive effect only when the audience have a favourable perception of endorser’s expertise and trustworthiness (Erdogan, 1999). Through a process of internalisation it is argued that information from a celebrity who is perceived to be credible can influence his audience’s beliefs and attitudes that further determine their purchase intentions (Erdogan, 1999). Credibility of the celebrity is advanced to be brought about by the audience’s perception of his trustworthiness and expertise (Erdogan, 199) and the attractiveness of the endorser (Amos, et al., 2008).

Trustworthiness in this regard is taken to mean the endorser’s “honesty, integrity and believability” (Erdogan, 1999, p. 297). Till and Shimp (1998) argue that trustworthiness is what advertisers try to exploit when they search for honest, dependable and believable endorsers. To confirm the role of trustworthiness Desphande and Stayman (1994) contend that it is out of trust for people similar to themselves that aspects such as cultural orientation of the endorser seems to influence the audience’s brand attitudes (as cited in Erdogan, 1999). Apart from contributing to the endorser’s credibility, trustworthiness could also act as a source of effectiveness independently (Amos, et al., 2008).

Expertise on the other hand is delineated as the level of perception of the endorser as “a source of valid assertions”, which could be associated with the endorsers “knowledge, experience or skills” as perceived by the audience but not necessarily factual (Erdogan, 1999, p. 298). In this respect; Amos, et al. (2008) find out that expertise was the third most influential factor in determining effectiveness among the source factors evaluated (e.g. negative information, credibility, trustworthiness and attractiveness). Gaied and Rached (2010) further find out that expertise influences attitudes towards both the advertisement and the brand and also has a significant positive influence on audience’s purchasing intentions. Just as in the case with trustworthiness, expertise could also be an independent determinant of effectiveness rather than a contributing factor to credibility (Amos, et al., 2008). Overall however the trustworthiness and expertise are the two most advanced factors that contribute to an endorser’s credibility hence his effectiveness (Erdogan, 1999; Amos, et al, 2008).

A mild contributor to celebrity credibility has been argued to be his attractiveness. Singer (1983) for instance noted that an advertiser’s choice of a celebrity is advanced on the latter’s attractiveness so as to benefit from both the celebrity’s physical appeal and status (cited in Erdogan, 1999). Erdogan (1999) argues that the importance of attractiveness in the choice of celebrity can be appreciated when the observation that “most advertisements portray attractive people” irrespective of the media employed is qualified (p. 299). Indeed attractiveness is found to have a significant influence on customers purchase intentions unless where the endorser’s expertise is high enough to motivate the consumers to ignore of his physical appeal (Liu, et al., 2007). Attractiveness was also found to be the fourth largest effecter of celebrity endorsement in the source credibility factors behind negative information, trustworthiness and expertise in the study by Amos, et al. (2008). Evaluating attractiveness as an independent determinant rather than a contributor to credibility; Gaied and Rached (2010) find out that attractiveness bears a significant influence on both the audience’s attitudes towards advertising and their purchasing intentions. go to part 6 here.

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