Celebrity Endorsements From Business Perspectives Cultural Studies Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

There are a number of reasons why a business may chose to use a celebrity to help endorse a product, for example: celebrities are useful tools to help raise awareness of a product and/or brand, they also help to convey a message of the product better, celebrities help to give the brand a unique advantage and thus help distinguish a brand from its competition.

Pringle (2004) stated that using a brand which has a celebrity representing and endorsing the product allowed the consumer to get a bit extra when it comes to self imagery. This was further illustrated by Assael (1984) who came up with a concept and thought that the use of a celebrity is effective due to their ability to tap in to "consumer symbolic association to aspiration reference groups."

After doing research and examining celebrity endorsements, Erdogan and Baker came up with six reasons in which a company may use celebrities to help them to endorse their products. These six factors are: 1.) Standing out. 2.) Awareness or getting attention. 3.) Celebrity value defines and refreshes the brand image. 4.) Adds a new dimension to the brand image. 5.) Instant credibility or aspiration. 6.) Public Relation coverage.

On the other hand, Till (1998) believed that it is not enough to purely have celebrities to generate success. Only when they are used effectively can they serve a valuable role in creating brand equity which then enhances a brands competitive position. What all these theorists have demonstrated is that celebrity endorsement is not only prominent in consumerism but also essential. McCracken (1989) stated that celebrity endorsers represented an effective way of transferring meanings to a brand, which has also been represented as a model. This model will be explored later on in this project.

In comparison to the above statements, Till and Busler (1998) found that using celebrities was purely a common marketing strategy which helped them and their finances. With this in mind, the consumers were aware of the strategy that companies where using when it came to employing celebrities to help with their products and brand, which led the companies to take a bad turn when the consumers realised it was purely for financial benefits and not to engage with their customers. Shrimp et al (1991) whilst conducting a study discovered that celebrities were only effective when the product which was being endorsed was unknown which suggests that celebrity endorsements are mainly useful for brands which are not yet known to the consumer.

2.3 Celebrity Endorsement from an Academic Perspective

There have been many models which have been adapted when it comes to celebrity endorsements and in this section the writer will be researching and evaluating three of the main models: Source Credibility Model, Source Attractiveness Model and finally the Meaning Transfers Model.

2.3.1 - Models

Source Credibility Model

This model was adapted by Byrne et al (2001). This model looks in to how the consumer perceives the celebrity endorser in regards to the amount of knowledge, skill or experience when it comes to the product at hand. The consumer wants to see how well the celebrity connects with the product and the brand. There are issues such as 'expertness' and 'trustworthiness' which come in to celebrity endorsers (Menon et al, 2001). "Expertness is how the alleged ability of the source to make valid assertion whilst trustworthiness is the alleged willingness of the source to make valid assertions" (McCracken, 1989).

Credible sources are something which can have an effect on people's beliefs, attitudes and opinions. If the consumer views the celebrity as being a credible individual then this can help consumer to believe the message the celebrity is putting across as the information which is being given out is correct. On the other hand when a customer does not have a positive view of a brand, a credible figure can alter the customers view persuade them, as the credible source offers an alternative view then previously perceived (Byrne et al, 2001).

A celebrity who is seen to be an expert on what they are endorsing can be more persuasive, which can therefore lead a customer to purchase the brand. Due to the direct impact to the customer when it comes to credibility this could mean that this is a very important factor to consider when thinking about utilising a celebrity for a brand.

Source Attractiveness Model

The Source Attractiveness Model was adapted by Triandis (1971). This model takes in to account three key characteristics which are: Similarity, Familiarity and Likeability.

'Similarity' this is the resemblance between the source and the message recipient.

'Familiarity' is the recipient's knowledge of the source through repeated or prolonged exposure.

'Likeability' is the affection for the source which has been determined from the physical appearance, behaviour or other personal traits.

Most of the research has indicated that it is the physical attractiveness of the endorser which is most appealing and as a result this is what consumers react to more then any other factor, the consumer generally has a positive attitude towards attractive people (McGuire, 1985). Later research supported this when Ohanian (1990) found that celebrities who are physically attractive are those who are more likely to change belief which will help when it comes to consumers purchasing brands.

Kahle and Homer's (1985) study identified that attractive celebrities are more effective when they themselves are the endorsers for a product or brand which makes the consumer more attractive. Eva Longoria for 'L'Oreal' make-up would be a good example for this, as it is a celebrity endorsing products which is showing the consumer a product which will improve them. The use of attractive celebrities is common when it comes to celebrity endorsing other example include Orlando Bloom for Boss Orange, or Beyonce Knowles for Emporio Armani's Diamonds. Star power is thus important for brands, using well known attractive celebrities, creates relationships between consumers and brands. Consumers want to feel like celebrities and to buy products which they endorse make the consumer feel closer in obtaining star quality much like the stars they admire and aspire to be.

The Source Credibility Model and the Source Attractiveness Model are both to help understand in more depth why celebrity endorsers are effective. In this case, studies have shown that individuals interact more with attractive celebrities and this is what helps when it comes to selling products for a brand. After Till and Busler (1998) did a study to show whether expertise compared to attractiveness and in this case the results showed that expertise were more important than attractiveness of the endorser. The study also showed that a consumer reacts better when a celebrity has knowledge about the product or brand. Even though attractiveness is an important factor, it isn't the best when it comes to helping sell a brand and having a good reputation. An example of this is using chefs to sell supermarket chains, for example the use of Heston Blumenthal to promote Waitrose. Blumenthal as a chef understands the importance of good quality food, therefore his expertise encourage consumers to also buy products from Waitrose.

Meaning Transfer Model

After studying both the Source Attractive and Source Credibility model McCracken (1989) criticised them and concluded that they both did not provide well as a theoretical or practical lead to celebrity endorsements. Once they were both determined, they did not make sense of the meanings which were involved when it came to celebrity endorsements. What they should have done is looked at the symbolic properties of celebrity endorsers.

Mehulkumar (2005) supported McCracken's study and concluded that it should be what the celebrity endorser brings to the brands which should show effectiveness. The Meaning Transfer Model looks deeper in to celebrity endorsements and how complex the process is.

As advertising is a powerful means of transfer it can therefore be interpreted and changed in to practically anything. Walker et al (1992) researched and discovered that a product which has an endorser who is different to it is perceived differently from the consumers' image rather then the products with a consistent image of the celebrity which it has been paired with. McCracken then added that it is purely because the celebrity brings their own meaning to the endorsement.

The Meaning Transfer Model is a three stage process: Culture, Endorsements and Consumption.

Culture - the celebrity delivers meaning better than an anonymous model and they use their personas to help remember what the message is. When celebrities create their own meanings, they then transfer them by using the transfer method.

Endorsement - this stage is when the celebrity is transferred to the product as they are put in to the advertisement.

Consumption - this is process of the message from the celebrity being transferred to the consumer.











Role 2

Role 1


Role 3

Stage 3

Stage 2

Stage 1

Path of Movement

Stage of Meaning Movement

(The meaning of movement and the endorsement process, McCracken, 1989)

2.4 - Celebrities

Oxford Dictionary defines 'Celebrity' as:

"noun (plural celebrities)

A famous person, especially in entertainment or sport."

2.4.1 - Why do people like celebrities?

In this section the writer will be ascertaining information in to why individuals are fascinated with celebrities. It has been considered that monetary wealth, popularity and social image may be part of the reason. On the other hand, admiring celebrities as idols or role models has always been a normal part of identity-development in childhood and adolescence (Giles & Maltby, 2004).

Studies have suggested that celebrities can be seen as being somewhat superhuman and magical due to their image which is portrayed (Rojek, 2001). Rojek has also argued that celebrities have now overshadowed the monarchy as they are highly recognised with the help of technology such as internet, television, magazines and radio.

People want to be just like celebrities as they portray the perfect life and perfect lifestyle especially when it comes to money and material goods. If a celebrity has a certain product then it must indicate that it is a good product especially if it is worthy enough for a celebrity. Pringle (2004) stated that there are some markets where it is encouraged for customers to take on the persona of a celebrity and to live the fantasy. This can be utilised in a business and be researched in more depth to gain an insight into consumer behaviour and the psychological perspective when it comes to how consumers perceive celebrities and why they want to be more like them. Not only does this give a brand an advantage, but it also helps to form an attachment between brand and consumer which in turn leads to a consumer being loyal to a brand. On the other hand it has also been argued that celebrity endorsement is ranked the least effective way to market (Marketing Week, 2007).

2.4.2 - Negative Celebrity Endorsers

There have been much speculations when it comes to what makes a negative celebrity endorser, for example, scandals which they may have been involved in, personal matters or even the pure defiance of the endorser. This can create bad publicity which in turn makes the celebrity and furthermore make the brand look bad. The role of the media is an important aspect when it comes to bad publicity, media editors are more likely to print celebrity sandals than any other form of reported media. This is known as media gate keeping (Shoemaker, Pamela J. Gatekeeping, Communication Concepts 3. Newbury Park: Sage, 1991. "Media Gatekeeping." In An Integrated Approach to Communication Theory and Research, ed. Michael B. Salwen and Don W. Stacks, 79-91. Mahwah, N.J.: Erlbaum, 1996.) Media Gatekeeping refers to the decisions made by editors as what news makes news, it can therefore be argued that celebrity scandal is more frequent due to its ability to sell.

In this section the writer will be discussing what makes a negative celebrity endorser and how this can in the long term have an effect on a brand.

There is a list of many endorsers who have given themselves a bad reputation through out the press and media therefore leading the brand to regrettably drop them. Examples include:

Tiger Wood, he has recently been found to have solicited with prostitutes on a number of occasions which in turn led to majority of his endorsements to let him go such as 'Professional Golf Association World Tour' that dropped him from their front cover. 'Gillette', 'Tag Heuer' and 'Accenture' were not far behind. The biggest loss was the endorsement of Gatorade which was estimated at $20 million per year and recorded as Tiger Woods largest endorsement deal (D. Roberts, Fortune, 2010).

In 2005, Kate Moss had also been instigated in a scandal which involved her being caught taking cocaine, this unfortunate incident came at a price which led her to be dropped from the majority of her endorsements. Some of which are, 'Rimmel' make-up, 'Hennes & Mauritz' (operating as H&M), 'Channel' stated that they had no plans to re-use her and 'Burberry' had cancelled an advertising campaign which featured Kate Moss (BBC, 2005). In recent years, Kate Moss has turned her life around and has again reached the peak of the modelling hierarchy which helped her get endorsements from brands such as 'Yves Saint Lauren' and opening her own clothing line in 'Topshop' which was a huge success. 'Dior' is the most recent of Kate Moss' endorsements.

Wayne Rooney is the most recent celebrity who has been headlined in the media on a numerous occasion for many different issues such as philanderer and violence. Unfortunately due to this Wayne Rooney has been removed from a number of the products which he endorses such as Coca-Cola, this was his largest endorsement deal and brought him the amount of £600,000 annually. Wayne Rooney will be discussed in more depth further on in this project.

Not all bad publicity makes for unfortunate incidents such as the above. David Beckham was accused of philandering, but in this case David Beckham did not lose any of his endorsements neither did he receive as much bad press as other celebrities. This is something which could also be researched in more depth, why did David Beckham have it easier then other celebrities who had done the same as himself?

Recent research has indicated that negative endorsement can alternate and turn in to positive endorsing (M. Costa, Marketing Week, 2010). M. Costa suggested that an "anti-hero" can be just as profitable and have a better image than any other role models. CEBRA is a system which helps a brand pick out the best endorsers for them and would create a positive effect if they paired up. Celebrities had been rated on their familiarity, buzz level and affinity then this comes up with a "CEBRA score" for a brand ambassador who has the most potential. "CEBRA" has the help of 2000 participants who help to judge this, and from this method the panel had identified 100 celebrities and 100 brands to put in to a personality match matrix which suggests a well matched partnership. According to the "CEBRA" study bad reputations could help a brand reach a new audience, just because they are seen in a negative light does not mean that they cannot be utilised to a brand's advantage especially if it is to help them look better.

Top 10 Positive Celebrity Role Models

Top 10 Negative Celebrity Role Models

1. Joanna Lumley

2. Judi Dench

3. Helen Mirren

4. Morgan Freeman

5. Kylie Minogue

6. Meryl Streep

7. Jamie Oliver

8. Sean Connery

9. Stephen Fry

10. Terry Wogan

1. Amy Winehouse

2. Katie Price

3. Paris Hilton

4. Russell Brand

5. John Terry

6. Tiger Woods

7. Peaches Geldof

8. Pixie Geldof

9. Jonathan Ross

10. Kate Moss

(Adapted from, M. Costa, Marketing Week, 2010)

2.4.2 - Wayne Rooney

This section will be focusing on Wayne Rooney as he is a celebrity who has had many speculations and scandals surrounding his life. This will be discussed further.

Wayne Rooney has two lives which results in him having two reputations. Firstly, he is a sports athlete and is well known for his amazing contribution to both Manchester United and England football teams. His sporting ability has shot him up to be one of the most recognised and respected footballers in the world, alongside the likes of David Beckham and Ryan Giggs. Secondly, he is a celebrity, his personal life is forever put on the front pages of press media or even on the news and because of this negative press it can take a negative effect on a person's reputation.

Recent news coverage has shown Wayne Rooney to have had sexual relations with a prostitute whilst married to his pregnant wife Colleen Rooney (The Sun, 2010). There were also circulating rumours many years ago that Wayne Rooney had slept with a woman who was much older then him (BBC, 2004), this was when Wayne Rooney was in the beginning of his fame but he was also with his current wife Colleen Rooney at that time. Not only have these sex scandals emerged but he has also had a reputation of being violent. In recent news Wayne Rooney elbowed a fellow footballer James McCarthy during a game against Wigan (The Guardian, 2011) which caused a lot of controversy with football fans and other members of the public, but this clearly did not have an effect as he was playing in the next match against Chelsea. Not only this, Wayne Rooney also stirred up a lot of controversy when he announced that he may be leaving Manchester United to go to Real Madrid after a falling out with Sir Alex Ferguson, this was not received well especially by his loyal Manchester United fans and this then turned into a large uproar but it was later declared that he was not leaving the team (Guardian, 2010).

Wayne Rooney is a largely respected figure amongst sports fans and enthusiasts and due to his good reputation when it comes to football he got himself a number of well known brands contacting him to endorse their products, some of which being 'Nike', 'Nokia', 'Ford', 'Asda', 'Coca-Cola' and 'EA Games/Fifa Games'. Unfortunately many of these were short lived as he was dropped by many due to the scandals which were surrounding him. 'Coca-Cola' was his largest endorsement deal and brought him the amount of £600,000 yearly but regrettably 'Coca-Cola' was one of the brands which dropped him.

'Nike' is another brand who used Wayne Rooney as an endorser and some would say it is a well perceived match to have as Wayne Rooney is in the sport profession and 'Nike' are well known for their sport wear. Luckily for Wayne Rooney, even after the scandals emerged they stood by his side and kept him an endorser of 'Nike'. 'Nike' stated that "the matter is a private one for Rooney and his family" (J. Tylee, 2010).

In this project the researcher will be finding out if a celebrity who is scandalous is actually an ideal person to have endorsing a brand. This will take the publics opinions in to account but will be using Wayne Rooney as the primary source and seeing if he himself is a good and trustworthy celebrity to have endorsing a brand like 'Nike'. Both the Source Credibility and Source Attractiveness Models will be taken in to account when the questions will be asked.

2.5 - Summary

Celebrity endorsements are now a very popular marketing method to get consumers interested in a product or brand as they can see a celebrity as a role model and look up to them. This is now a multi billion pound industry. Businesses need to make sure that they pick the right person to endorse their products otherwise it would not be as effective and the business could incur a loss of finances. Choosing the wrong person can lead to the loss of finances but also the reputation of the brand could take a dive. The majority of the work for celebrity endorsements has been adapted from McCracken (1989) who argued that the best and most effective endorsements are of those which have link and are similar to each other.

Research also indicate that a celebrities personal life could also take an effect on the brand and examples such as Kate Moss, Tiger Woods and others were used, so before anything could of taken a negative turn the companies dropped them from their company to make sure that they were not associated with what the celebrity had done to make the look negative.

2.6 - Aims

The main aim of this research project is to see if the personal life of a celebrity has a negative effect in a brand. In this case the writer will be focusing on the sports athlete Wayne Rooney as he has been involved in a number of scandals past and present. From this, the writer will find out what the link is to a brand and the brand in which they endorse. To do this the researcher will be taking the opinions of participants, analyzing and evaluating the result to come up with an answer. Also with this the researcher will be incorporating the two models ('Source attractiveness' and 'Source Credibility' models) in to the questionnaire in order to get an answer for the second aim.

2.7 - Objectives

The first objective of this research project is to identify participant's perceptions on the personal life of a celebrity if they have done something negative to affect them, and whether or not this has an effect on the way the brand is purchased.

A second objective is also to see whether or not the two models ('Source attractiveness' and 'Source Credibility' models) have the same effect when a negative endorser, such as Wayne Rooney, has the same effect as when positive endorser have been used.