Celebrities in Advertising: Looking for Congruence or for Likability?

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ANZMAC 2009

Celebrities in advertising: looking for congruence or for likability? Nathalie Fleck*, University of Cergy-Pontoise, Thema, France Nathalie.flec@u-cergy.fr Michaël Korchia, BEM Bordeaux Management School, France Michael.korchia@bem.edu Isabelle Le Roy, CSA, France

Abstract Celebrities used as endorsers in advertising are often very popular ones. However, from a cognitive point of view (and more academic one), congruence between brand and celebrity seems to be very important too. Based on affective and cognitive theories to explain endorsement efficiency, congruence between brand and celebrity is shown to be at least as effective as celebrity likability. Moreover the predisposition toward the ad and brand beliefs are mediators of the effects of congruence between brand and celebrity and celebrity likability on ad efficiency. Keywords : celebrity endorsement, advertisement, congruence, attitude, likability.

ANZMAC 2009

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Celebrities in advertising: looking for congruence or for likability?

Introduction Brands all over the world use celebrities to advertise their products. As early as 1890, actress Sarah Bernhardt appeared on posters for La Diaphane, a famous French brand of rice powder at the time (Lehu, 1993). The use of celebrities in advertising is not, therefore, a new phenomenon, but it has become increasingly widespread over the past twenty years. Brands like Pepsi have featured stars such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, or even the Spice Girls, with varying impact (Erdogan, 1999). Stars have become a vital component of advertising for certain categories of products, like perfume and cosmetics. It seems that once a celebrity becomes famous and popular, he/she immediately appears in an ad and sometimes several ones at the same moment. The question is, for ad agencies as for brands, how to choose a celebrity for advertising. What to take the most into account? Are awareness and popularity of the celebrity enough to insure ad efficiency? What are the other factors which could play a role and explain the celebrity endorsement efficiency? Alongside this phenomenon, research into the role of celebrities in advertising has also increased since the 1990s (Amos, Holmes and Strutton, 2008; Seno and Lukas, 2007; Pringle and Binet, 2005; Erdogan, 1999; Ohanian, 1991). These works have highlighted several explaining factors, among them congruence being one of the most important determinants. What are the effects of congruence on ad efficiency? Is it better to choose a celebrity above all popular or congruent with the brand? These are the questions this research more specifically investigates.

Celebrity Endorsement: Theory and Efficiency Factors Of course endorsement efficiency depends on ad execution quality, media planning, public relations… but it is above all linked up with the choice of the celebrity, as shown through the different models imagined to explain this phenomenon. The Source Attractiveness and the Source Credibility Models The attractiveness model assumes that the effectiveness of the message depends on the physical characteristics of the source which make it attractive (Chao, Wührer and Werani, 2005; Till and Busler, 2000). A celebrity spokesperson's physical attractiveness has a positive impact on brand recall, attitude towards the brand, and purchasing intent (Kahle and Homer, 1985; Joseph, 1982). Here, the endorser's physical attractiveness is assumed to have an influence on the target's acceptance of the advertising, particularly due to the phenomenon of identification. The effectiveness of the message depends on the endorser's similarity, likeableness, and familiarity. While there is no doubt that a celebrity endorser may improve attitude towards advertising and a brand, its impact on purchasing behaviour is less clear (Erdogan, 1999). Attractiveness of the source is not the only characteristic of a celebrity to take into account (Friedman and Friedman,...
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