Selecting celebrity endorsers the practitioner’s perspective

Duwan Arismendy
Duwan ArismendyCoordinador Centro de Documentación en Farma de Colombia à Farma de Colombia

Selecting celebrity endorsers the practitioner’s perspective

Selecting Celebrity Endorsers:The Practitioner’s Perspective
B. Zafer Erdogan
Dumlupinar University, Turkey
Michael J. Baker
Nottingham Business School
and
Stephen Tagg
University of Strathclyde Despite the obvious economic advantage of using relatively unknown personalities as endorsers in advertising
campaigns, the choice of celebrities to fulfil that role has become common practice for companies competing in today’s cluttered media
environment. A recent estimate indicates that around one-quarter of all commercials screened in the United States include celebrity
endorsers (Shimp, 2000). Although celebrity endorsement has a historic presence in Great Britain, the number of celebrity campaigns has
increased markedly in recent years. In fact, our findings show that one in five marketing communications campaigns in the United Kingdom
feature celebrities. There are several reasons for such extensive use of celebrities. Because of their high profile, celebrities may help
advertisements stand out from surrounding clutter, thus improving their communicative ability (Atkin and Block, 1983; Sherman, 1985).
Celebrities may also generate extensive PR leverage for brands. For example, when Revlon launched the ‘Won’t kiss off test’ for its
Colorstay lipsticks in 1994 with Cindy Crawford kissing reporters, the campaign featured on almost every major news channel and equally
widely in the press. Although research findings are equivocal about the ability of celebrities to generate actual purchase behavior, positive
impact on economic returns of sponsoring companies are well-documented (Agrawal and Kamakura, 1995; Mathur, Mathur, and Rangan,
1997). The best example is Michael Jordan and his range of endorsements (for example, Nike, Coke, Wheaties, McDonald’s, Hanes,
WorldCom, Oakley, Gatorade). His effect has been calculated to have contributed around $10 billion to the U.S. economy during the 14
years of his NBA career (Fortune, 1998). As well as promoting established brands, celebrities are used to promulgate new brand images,
reposition brands, or introduce new ones. For example, Lucozade, a soft drink brand that had been associated with sick children, was able
to achieve a completely new image by association with famous athletes and British soccer players (Erdogan and Kitchen, 1998). Global
marketing communication strategies can be victim in individual countries to cultural ‘roadblocks,’ such as time, space, language,
relationships, power, risk, masculinity, femininity, and many others (Hofstede ,1984; De Mooij, 1994). Celebrities with worldwide popularity
can help companies avoid many of these problems (Kaikati, 1987). Indeed, Advertising Age International (1997) reported that PepsiCo’s
management attributed its 2 percent global market share increase, in an industry where a 1 percent rise in market share is equivalent to
millions of dollars, to the British pop group, Spice Girls. Despite these potential benefits, there are still many potential hazards in basing a
marketing communications campaign on a celebrity endorser(s). In fact, it has been found that negative information about a celebrity
endorser not only influences consumers’ perception of the celebrity but also the endorsed product (Klebba and Unger, 1982; Till and Shimp,
1998). This effect was clearly an embarrassment to Hertz, which had utilized O.J. Simpson as their endorser. Although many companies
include clauses in celebrity contracts for termination on grounds of moral turpitude and/or take out ‘death, disablement, and disgrace’
insurance to cover the foibles of celebrity endorsers, they may still lose out on their investment and image. Another important strategic
issue is subsequent overexposure when a celebrity becomes an endorser for many diverse products and the relationship between the
celebrity and a particular brand ceases to be distinctive (Mowen and Brown, 1981). This may not only compromise the value of celebrities
in the eyes of their fans (Graham, 1989) but also make consumers overtly aware of the true nature of the endorsement, which has less to
do with the attributes of the brand, and more to do with money (Cooper, 1984; Tripp, Jensen, and Carlson, 1994). Furthermore, celebrities
may disappear from the media spotlight before the end of a contractual term even if they had won seven Olympic gold medals when it
started (Ziegel, 1983). Last, it is unusual for celebrities to change their image suddenly, but when this occurs it can destroy the very
rationale of the relationship. For instance, the ex-Spice Girl, Geri Halliwell, set out to divest herself of the group’s ‘naughty’ image by
endorsing cancer charities and was appointed a ‘roving ambassador’ by the United Nations but lost much of the potential benefit of her new
persona when a press photographer caught her smoking. PRIOR RESEARCH As can be inferred from this quick overview, the selection of
celebrity endorsers is an important task. In consequence, the subject has attracted a considerable amount of academic and practitioner
interest, from the foundations laid by Carl I. Hovland and his associates in the early 1950s (Hovland, Janis, and Kelley, 1953; Hovland and
Weiss, 1951). Following his initial Source Credibility Model, three additional models have been proposed - the Source Attractiveness Model
(McGuire, 1968), the Product Match-Up Hypothesis (Kahle and Homer, 1985; Kamins, 1989, 1990), and the Meaning Transfer Model
(McCracken, 1989). Indeed, a recent literature review by Erdogan (1999) cites over 45 academic articles dealing with celebrity
endorsement strategy in mainstream marketing and communication journals. The first of these models, the Source Credibility Model,
contends that the effectiveness of a message depends on perceived level of expertise and trustworthiness of an endorser (Hovland and
Weiss, 1951; Hovland et al., 1953; Ohanian, 1991). Information from a credible source (for example, celebrity) can influence beliefs,
opinions, attitudes, and/or behavior through a process called internalization, which occurs when receivers accept a source influence in
terms of their personal attitude and value structures (Kelman, 1961). Trust worthiness refers to the honesty, integrity, and believability of
an endorser as perceived by the target audience. Although Friedman et al. (1978) found that trustworthiness is the major determinant of
source credibility, Ohanian’s (1991) findings indicated that trustworthiness of a celebrity was not significantly related to purchase intentions.
Expertise is defined as the extent to which a communicator is perceived to be a source of valid assertions. It refers to the perceived level
of knowledge, experience, or skills possessed by an endorser (Hovland et al., 1953). A celebrity that is more of an expert has been found
to be more persuasive (Speck, Schumann, and Thompson, 1988) and can generate more intentions to buy the brand (Ohanian, 1991). The
Source Attractiveness Model contends that the effectiveness of a message depends on the similarity, familiarity, and liking of an endorser
(McGuire, 1968). Similarity is defined as a supposed resemblance between the source and the receiver of the message, familiarity as
knowledge of the source through exposure, and likability as affection for the source as a result of the source’s physical appearance and
behavior. A generalized application to advertising has been suggested that ‘physical attractiveness’ of a communicator determines the
effectiveness of persuasive communication through a process called identification, which is assumed to occur when information from an
attractive source is accepted as a result of desire to identify with such endorsers (Kelman, 1961). Research has shown physically attractive
communicators are more successful at changing beliefs (Baker and Churchill, 1977; Chaiken, 1979; Debevec and Kernan, 1984) and
generating purchase intentions (Friedman et al., 1976; Petty and Cacioppo,1983; Petroshius and Crocker, 1989) than their unattractive
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counterparts. On the other hand, Caballero et al. (1989) found that positive feelings toward advertising and products do not necessarily
translate into actual behavior or purchase intentions. The Product Match-up Hypothesis literature maintains that messages conveyed by the
celebrity image and the product should be congruent for effective advertising (Forkan, 1980; Kahle and Homer, 1985; Kamins, 1989, 1990).
The determinant of the match between celebrity and brand depends on the degree of perceived ‘fit’ between brand and celebrity image
(Misra and Beatty, 1990). Advertising a product via a celebrity whose image is highly congruent with the brand leads to greater advertiser
and celebrity believability compared with a situation in which there is low congruence (Kamins and Gupta, 1994). Indeed, this may be the
reason for the extensive usage of attractive celebrities (for example, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Moss, Madonna, and Cindy Crawford) for
personal care products, shampoo, skin and hair care, and make-up. The emphasis of product match-up research has been on the proper
match between a celebrity and a product based on celebrity physical attractiveness. However, two studies by Ohanian (1991) and Till and
Busler (1998) dealt with expertise and concluded that special attention should be paid to employ celebrities who are perceived to be
experts by the target audiences. It is clear that the Match-up Hypothesis research may have to extend beyond attractiveness and credibility
toward a consideration and matching of the entire image of the celebrity with the endorsed brand and the target audience. The source
credibility and attractiveness models may be inadequate in providing a heuristic. for appropriate celebrity endorser selection as DeSarbo
and Harshman argued in 1985. Indeed, similar research has been suggested by McCracken (1989) and undertaken by Langmeyer and
Walker (1991a, b). According to McCracken (1989), celebrity endorsements are special examples of a more general process of meaning
transfer. In this process, there is a conventional path for the movement of cultural meaning in consumer societies. This process involves
three stages: the formation of celebrity image, transfer of meaning from celebrity to product, and finally from product to consumers.
McCracken’s (1989) Model of Meaning Transfer may at first seem a merely theoretical concept, but its replicability to real life was
demonstrated by two studies by Langmeyer and Walker (1991a, b). Their studies demonstrated that symbolic meanings possessed by
celebrities (Cher; Madonna, and Christie Brinkley) transferred to the endorsed brand/product (Scandinavian Health Spas, bath towels, and
blue jeans). THE STUDY The literature is predominantly U.S. - based and mostly comprises studies that test celebrity endorser
characteristics in experiments using consumer samples. Only one study by Miciak and Shanklin (1994) investigated the factors taken into
account by advertising practitioners when choosing celebrity endorsers based on a small sample including 21 agency and 22 company
practitioners. As a result, there is a further need for a practitioner - based study with a larger and different (for example, British) sample
that aims to understand the practitioner’s mindset in deciding which celebrity to utilize. Such a study may provide invaluable insights for
British advertising agencies in striving to find the ‘right’ celebrity endorser for their clients’ brands. It may also be of use to practitioners in
other countries, since U.K. - based advertising agencies are considered to be centers of excellence in the global marketing communication
industry. Furthermore, this study may provide a ‘triangulation’ for previous consumer-based studies. In other words, the findings may shed
light on how consistent the academic research in the field of celebrity endorsement is with the behavior of agency managers. Therefore, the
study reported here first aimed to measure the importance of individual celebrity characteristics in order to ‘replicate’ Miciak and Shanklin’s
study with a much larger sample. To do that, a measurement scale was developed from the literature and exploratory interview findings
and pre-tested with six managers. The two methods of pre-testing (interviews and the form of the main survey) were simultaneously
conducted with three managers per mode as suggested by Kinnear and Taylor (1996) in order to address the divided academic debate on
the most appropriate method of pre-testing. In the first mode of pre-testing, authors first briefed managers about the objectives of the
study and asked them to complete the questionnaire. Then, the researcher invited managers to comment on: the terminology used in the
questionnaire and its relevance to advertising agency managers; about the layout and the length of the questionnaire; about the content
and the sequence of the questions; and last about their further suggestions for improving the research instrument. The second mode was
executed by mail, which included the cover page for the questionnaire, the questionnaire itself, a business-reply envelope (BRE), and also a
letter inviting respondents to comment on the same issues covered during the interview mode. After incorporating the pre-test results, the
number of scale items was 17, plus an ‘other’ option which subsequently generated no response at all. The reason for not using Miciak and
Shanklin’s 25-item scale unmodified is that, during the pre-test stage, managers indicated that several items in their scale were confusing,
repetitive, or unnecessary for British practitioners. This may have been due to the United Kingdom and the United States having different
marketing communications styles. The second objective of the study was to test the relative importance of five celebrity characteristics for
two types of products. The celebrity characteristics, (trustworthiness, expertise, physical attractiveness, familiarity, and likability) were
taken from the identification and internalization processes described by Kelman (1961). The products selected were personal computers
and blue jeans. While the former is a technical/attractiveness-unrelated product high in financial and performance risk (Kamins, 1989;
1990), the latter is a nontechnical/attractiveness-related product (Langmeyer and Walker, 1991b) that is relatively low in financial and
performance risk. In order to achieve the second objective of the study, the following five hypotheses were constructed: H1
: A
celebrity’s perceived trustworthiness is more important for managers when selecting a celebrity endorser for a technical/ attractiveness-
unrelated product as opposed to a nontechnical/ attractiveness-related product. H2
: A celebrity’s perceived expertise is a more
important criterion for managers when selecting a celebrity endorser for a technical/ attractiveness-unrelated product than a
nontechnical/attractiveness-related product. H3
: A celebrity’s perceived physical attractiveness is more important for managers when
selecting a celebrity endorser for a nontechnical / attractiveness-related product as opposed to a technical/ attractiveness-unrelated
product. H4
: A celebrity’s perceived familiarity is a more important factor for managers when selecting a celebrity endorser for a
nontechnical/ attractiveness-related product than a technical/attractiveness - unrelated product. H5
: A celebrity’s perceived likability is
more important for managers when selecting a celebrity endorser for a nontechnical/attractiveness-related product as opposed to a
technical/attractiveness-unrelated product. As can be gathered, the first two hypotheses propose that advertising agency managers regard
source credibility criteria as more important for a technical/ attractiveness-unrelated product (for example, personal computers) than for a
nontechnical/attractiveness-related product (for example, blue jeans). On the other hand, the last three hypotheses argue that managers
value celebrity attractiveness factors as more important for a nontechnical/ attractiveness product (for example, blue jeans) than for a
technical/attractiveness-unrelated product (for example, personal computers). METHODOLOGY The research design progressed from
exploratory interviews to a mail survey. The first phase was exploratory, as it was felt that developing and testing hypotheses derived only
from the literature would not provide a precise reflection of what factors might be considered by practitioners. It was reasoned that large
advertising agencies were more likely to utilize celebrities in campaigns, since celebrities carry high price tags. In fact, the mail survey
findings proved that this was the case. The agency sample was taken from a recognized listing of the 300 largest agencies in the United
Kingdom (Campaign, 1997). Interviews were conducted with ten managers from nine advertising agencies who had extensive experience in
celebrity campaigns (two CEOs, three account directors, two creative directors, a casting director, and two planning directors) and a
celebrity director from a specialty research agency. Fax responses were also received from two agencies. After having explored the factors
considered by practitioners in selecting celebrity endorsers, a mail survey was launched. The respondents included advertising agency
directors/managers working at agencies that were members of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), the British equivalent of
the 4As in the United States. Though they account only for around 10 percent of all advertising agencies in the United Kingdom, these
transact more than 80 percent of total U.K. advertising expenditure (IPA, 1998). Purposive sampling was used with the objective of
reaching agency managers who had been involved in celebrity campaigns. We first e-mailed agencies, which enabled us to determine only
the names of managers in 10 agencies (10/206 = 4.8 percent). After this ‘fruitless’ attempt, the names of managers in the remaining
agencies were obtained by phone. Besides identifying managers, these efforts allowed us to determine to which advertising agencies the
survey was relevant, since some might not have utilized celebrities in their campaigns. Indeed, 58 out of 206 agencies were eliminated
from the study for two reasons: 34 had no prior involvement in celebrity campaigns and 24 were media buying specialists and therefore not
involved in the process of advertising development. At the end, 414 agency managers from 148 agencies were identified and included in
the survey. After two waves, 131 out of 414 (31.6 percent) questionnaires from 80 out of 148 (54 percent) agencies were received.
Considering that 20 to 30 percent response rates are considered to be good in Europe (Baker, 1992), this response rate is at the high end
of the scale. It is in fact almost the same as the one obtained by Ferrell and Krugman (1983) from the U.S. advertising industry. As can be
seen in Table 1, the majority of respondents worked for agencies having annual billings above 12 million pounds in 1998. One-way ANOVA
and Bonferroni method of multiple comparison test results indicate that the response rate from the smallest agency category was
significantly lower than all other categories except the second largest (F = 4.52, p < .001). As indicated earlier, the reason for this may be
the fact that smaller agencies are less likely to utilize celebrities in campaigns than their larger counterparts. Although positions held by
respondents varied from agency CEO/MD/ Chairperson to producers, account managers constituted the majority. However, there was no
statistically significant difference among response rates. The domination of account managers (for example, executive director, director,
manager, executive) was intentional since the exploratory interviews revealed that account managers were the most likely to manage the
process of selecting celebrity endorsers (see Table 1). TABLE 1: RESPONSE RATES BY AGENCY SIZE AND POSITIONS
Over 80 percent of the respondents had at least six years of work experience. All the respondents had been involved in celebrity
campaigns, with more than 40 percent being involved with six or more celebrity campaigns at the time of the survey. In light of this
response, we consider the findings representative of the population of U.K. advertising agencies actively involved in the recruitment and
use of celebrities as endorsers.
FINDINGS Since the exploratory interviews served as a backbone for the mail survey, we mainly report findings from the mail survey.
Importance of celebrity characteristics in general Table 2 depicts mean scores for importance of celebrity characteristics in rank order.
Celebrity-target audience and brand match-up, and overall image of the celebrity, scored very high on the 5-point Likert scale in which 5 =
very important and 1 = very unimportant. This is in line with the findings of Friedman and Friedman (1978, 1979), Kahle and Homer (1985),
Kamins (1990), Kamins and Gupta (1994), Langmeyer and Walker (1991a, 1991b), Misra and Beatty (1990), Ohanian (1990, 1991), and
with arguments put forward by McCracken (1989). TABLE 2: MEAN SOURCES OF CRITERIA IMPORTANCE
Respondents considered the cost and likelihood of hiring the celebrity, celebrity trustworthiness, controversy risk, prior endorsements, and
celebrity familiarity and likability to be important factors. Risk of celebrities overshadowing brands and the stage of celebrity life cycle were
somewhat important. Although previous academic research concentrated on celebrity expertise and physical attractiveness (Friedman,
Termini, and Washington, 1976; Baker and Churchill, 1977; Chaiken, 1979; Debevec and Kernan, 1984; Speck, Schumann, and Thompson,
Annual Agency
Billings
Questionaires
Mailed
Responses
Received
Percent
Below £2.25m 43 5 11.6
£2.26m-£12m 114 43 37.7
£12.1m-£25m 52 20 38.5
£25.1m-£100m 89 19 21.3
Above £100m 116 44 37.9
Positions
CEO/MD/Chairperson 56 20 35.7
Creatives 58 19 32.7
Account Managers 267 82 30.7
Planners 10 4 40.0
Producers 12 6 50.0
Mean Std. Dev.
Celebrity-target
audience match
4.65 0.66
Celebrity-product/brand
match
4.56 0.69
Overall image of the
celebrity
4.55 0.65
Cost of acquiring the
celebrity
4.34 0.68
Celebrity
trustworthiness
4.28 0.74
The likelihood of
acquiring the celebrity
4.17 0.77
Celebrity controversy
risk
4.13 0.86
Celebrity familiarity 4.12 0.79
Celebrity prior
endorsements
4.07 0.78
Celebrity likeability 4.02 0.89
Risk of celebrity
overshadowing brands
3.91 1.00
The stage of celebrity
life cycle
3.59 0.96
Celebrity expertise 3.32 0.97
Celebrity profession 3.10 0.93
Celebrity physical
attractiveness
3.09 0.80
Celebrity equity
membership status
2.98 1.10
Whether celebrity is a
brand user
2.63 0.83
Scores are obtained from a scale in which 5= Very Important and 1= Very
Unimportant
1988; Petroshius and Crocker, 1989), these were indicated to be neither important nor unimportant along with celebrity profession and a
celebrity’s membership of the actors’ union. A possible explanation for this discrepancy between scholars and practitioners could be that
most advertising agency managers perceive a celebrity as a gestalt and do not differentiate attractiveness and credibility characteristics.
Indeed, one of the respondents during the interviews claimed that ‘when a person is famous, people forget about what the person looks like
as everyone knows the face, and it is hard to judge whether the person is pretty or ugly.’ Lastly, whether the celebrity is a brand user was
considered to be unimportant to the decision. It is interesting that managers should consider this unimportant, since campaigns have
suffered as a result of celebrities being caught using competitors’ brands or not using the product/ service at all. A British example occurred
when Helena Bonham-Carter admitted in her first brand interview for Yardley that she rarely used make-up. In order to identify underlying
characteristics of celebrity endorsers that are considered by agency managers, the scale was subjected to Exploratory Factor Analysis by
using Principal Component Analysis Extraction with Promax Rotation. This procedure reduced the number of factors from seventeen to five
(see Table 3). TABLE 3: FACTOR ANALYSIS OF IMPORTANT CELEBRITY ENDORSER CHARACTERISTICS
All statistics support the use of factor analysis. The KMO test is at the high end of the scale (0.76), assuring that sampling is adequate, and
the Chi-square score of Bartlett’s test of sphericity is also quite high with a very high level of significance (X2
= 623, P < .001).
Components with eigenvalues greater than 1 and individual factor loadings of (+/—) 0.5 are considered to be significant (Hair et al., 1995).
In fact, ‘overall image of the celebrity’ was disregarded despite showing as a separate item, because it had an eigenvalue and a factor
loading less than 1 and 0.5, respectively.
These five components account for 65 percent of the total variance: congruence, credibility, profession, popularity, and obtainability. In
other words, when agencies decide upon a celebrity, five main issues are considered: Does the celebrity have congruent associations with
the product/ brand and the target audience? Is the celebrity credible? What is the celebrity’s profession? Is he or she popular? Can we
obtain his or her service? Five summated scales were calculated to correspond to the components. The alpha coefficients are acceptably
high and are included in Table 3. Importance of celebrity characteristics according to product types In order to test the five hypotheses, the
data were subjected to paired sample two-tailed t-tests. Respondents were asked to indicate each characteristic’s importance for each
product on a scale from 5 = most important to 1 = least important. When taken together, all hypotheses test results imply that the agency
manager’s behavior is in line with the product match-up hypothesis research (Kahle and Homer, 1985; Kamins, 1990; Misra and Beatty,
1990; Kamins and Gupta, 1994; Till and Busler, 1998) since they have indicated that the importance of specific celebrity characteristics
differ according to product types. More specifically, as can be seen in Table 4, agency managers rated celebrity trustworthiness and
expertise more important in the case of a technical/attractiveness-unrelated product than for a nontechnical/attractiveness-related product
[(H1
t = 15.7, df = 125, P < .001) (H2
t = 14.7, df = 125 P < .001)]. On the contrary, they indicated that celebrity physical attractiveness,
familiarity, and likability were more important for a nontechnical/attractiveness-related product than for a technical/attractiveness-
unrelated product [(H3
t —23.9, df = 125, p < .001) (H4
1 —4.2, df = 125, p < .001) (H5
t=5.1, df = 125, p < .001)]. Thus, all hypotheses
were upheld. TABLE 4: MEAN SCORES OF CELEBRITY CHARACTERISTICS FOR PCS AND BLUE JEANS
In addition to testing these five hypotheses, three more paired sample t-tests were run in order to determine whether the most important
individual celebrity characteristic for each product category is clearly more important than the others. The first test compared the relative
Components Individual Items Loadings
Congruence Celebrity physical attractiveness .77
a = .71 Celebrity-target audience match .73
Celebrity-product/brand match .68
The stage of celebrity life cycle .64
Credibility Celebrity controversy risk .86
a = .72 Celebrity prior endorsements .76
Celebrity trustworthiness .74
Profession Whether celebrity is a brand user .75
a = .68 Celebrity profession .73
Celebrity EQUITY membership status .63
Celebrity expertise .56
Risk of celebrity overshadowing
brands
.54
Popularity Celebrity familiarity .87
a = .75 Celebrity likeability .85
Obtainability Cost of acquiring the celebrity .83
a = .73
The likelihood of acquiring the
celebrity
.82
Eigenvalues 4.8 1.7 1.5 1.3
1.1
Variance explained (percent) 30 11 9 8 7
Characteristics Products Mean
Std.
Dev.
Std.
Error
t df Sig.
Trustworthiness
PCs
Blue Jeans
3.92
1.87
1.16
0.90
0.10
0.08
15.7 125 0.001
Expertise
PCs
Blue Jeans
3.68
1.65
1.25
0.92
0.11
0.08
14.7 125 0.001
Familiarity
PCs
Blue Jeans
3.28
3.69
1.09
0.89
0.10
0.08
-4.2 125 0.001
Likability
PCs
Blue Jeans
2.75
3.29
1.05
0.84
0.09
0.07
-5.1 125 0.001
Physical
attractiveness
PCs
Blue Jeans
1.39
4.50
0.87
0.96
0.08
0.09
-23.9 125 0.001
Scores are obtained from a scale of 1 to 5 in which 5 = Most Important and 1 = Least Important
importance of trustworthiness and expertise for a technical /attractiveness-unrelated product. Although managers indicated celebrity
trustworthiness is more important than expertise, the difference is not statistically significant (1 = 1.6, df = 125, p <.11). Thus, these two
credibility criteria are not distinctly more important than one another when deciding upon a celebrity endorser for agency managers for a
technical/attractiveness-unrelated product such as PCs. The second test contrasted the importance of celebrity physical attractiveness with
familiarity for a nontechnical/ attractiveness-related product. Results are statistically significant (1 = 6.3, df = 125, p <.001) showing that
celebrity physical attractiveness is more important than familiarity. The last paired sample t-test also compared the importance of celebrity
physical attractiveness with likability for a nontechnical/attractiveness-related product. Findings again indicate a statistically significant
difference (1 = 10.1, df = 125, p < .001) between the importance of celebrity physical attractiveness and likability in favor of the former.
As a result, it is safe to argue that physical attractiveness is the most important criterion among the three attractiveness factors for agency
managers when selecting a celebrity endorser for a nontechnical/attractiveness-related product such as blue jeans. See Figure 1.
CONCLUSION The findings of this study have a number of implications for both theory and practice. At the theoretical level, the research
first shows that managers consider a set of criteria when selecting celebrity endorsers implying that managers do not see celebrities as
unidimensional individuals (for example, attractive, credible). The reason for this may very well be that, as McCracken (1989) argues,
celebrities are different from unknown endorsers as they represent a variety of meanings that are drawn from the roles they assume in
television, film, politics, athletics, and so on. Secondly, the findings confirm that the importance of any criterion depends on the type of
product. In other words, managers have implicitly incorporated the findings of product match-up hypothesis research in their decision
making. For practitioners, the criteria presented in Table 2 provide a possible ‘check list’ of factors that should be considered in selecting
celebrity endorsers, since none of the advertising agencies had any written documentation regarding celebrity endorsement strategy. The
major limitation of the study is that managers were provided with generic product names in the instrument, but in reality most campaigns
are about brands that already have meanings (associations) attached to them (Levy, 1959; McCracken, 1989; Myers, 1999). Therefore, the
importance of criteria considered by agency managers may heavily depend on brands’ existing meanings as well as on the position of the
brand in the market (for example, leader), specific campaign objectives, budget, and many other related factors with which the
respondents were not provided. As a result, there is a need for further research integrating some or all of the above-mentioned factors.
One further research route is to ‘replicate’ the study by providing respondents with such information as brand name and history, market
position, specific campaign objectives, time period, and budget. Even though respondents would be skeptical about the purpose of the
research and therefore choose not to participate, this study will provide a better reflection of the importance of the factors considered when
selecting celebrity endorsers. Moreover, the research can be duplicated in other countries that may provide a basis for cross-cultural
comparisons. The reason for these possible replications is that every country has its own culture(s), which may very well affect the
importance of criteria. Finally, scholars wanting to replicate this study in any part of the world are encouraged to contact the first author
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© Copyright Advertising Research Foundation 2001
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Selecting celebrity endorsers the practitioner’s perspective

  • 1. Selecting Celebrity Endorsers:The Practitioner’s Perspective B. Zafer Erdogan Dumlupinar University, Turkey Michael J. Baker Nottingham Business School and Stephen Tagg University of Strathclyde Despite the obvious economic advantage of using relatively unknown personalities as endorsers in advertising campaigns, the choice of celebrities to fulfil that role has become common practice for companies competing in today’s cluttered media environment. A recent estimate indicates that around one-quarter of all commercials screened in the United States include celebrity endorsers (Shimp, 2000). Although celebrity endorsement has a historic presence in Great Britain, the number of celebrity campaigns has increased markedly in recent years. In fact, our findings show that one in five marketing communications campaigns in the United Kingdom feature celebrities. There are several reasons for such extensive use of celebrities. Because of their high profile, celebrities may help advertisements stand out from surrounding clutter, thus improving their communicative ability (Atkin and Block, 1983; Sherman, 1985). Celebrities may also generate extensive PR leverage for brands. For example, when Revlon launched the ‘Won’t kiss off test’ for its Colorstay lipsticks in 1994 with Cindy Crawford kissing reporters, the campaign featured on almost every major news channel and equally widely in the press. Although research findings are equivocal about the ability of celebrities to generate actual purchase behavior, positive impact on economic returns of sponsoring companies are well-documented (Agrawal and Kamakura, 1995; Mathur, Mathur, and Rangan, 1997). The best example is Michael Jordan and his range of endorsements (for example, Nike, Coke, Wheaties, McDonald’s, Hanes, WorldCom, Oakley, Gatorade). His effect has been calculated to have contributed around $10 billion to the U.S. economy during the 14 years of his NBA career (Fortune, 1998). As well as promoting established brands, celebrities are used to promulgate new brand images, reposition brands, or introduce new ones. For example, Lucozade, a soft drink brand that had been associated with sick children, was able to achieve a completely new image by association with famous athletes and British soccer players (Erdogan and Kitchen, 1998). Global marketing communication strategies can be victim in individual countries to cultural ‘roadblocks,’ such as time, space, language, relationships, power, risk, masculinity, femininity, and many others (Hofstede ,1984; De Mooij, 1994). Celebrities with worldwide popularity can help companies avoid many of these problems (Kaikati, 1987). Indeed, Advertising Age International (1997) reported that PepsiCo’s management attributed its 2 percent global market share increase, in an industry where a 1 percent rise in market share is equivalent to millions of dollars, to the British pop group, Spice Girls. Despite these potential benefits, there are still many potential hazards in basing a marketing communications campaign on a celebrity endorser(s). In fact, it has been found that negative information about a celebrity endorser not only influences consumers’ perception of the celebrity but also the endorsed product (Klebba and Unger, 1982; Till and Shimp, 1998). This effect was clearly an embarrassment to Hertz, which had utilized O.J. Simpson as their endorser. Although many companies include clauses in celebrity contracts for termination on grounds of moral turpitude and/or take out ‘death, disablement, and disgrace’ insurance to cover the foibles of celebrity endorsers, they may still lose out on their investment and image. Another important strategic issue is subsequent overexposure when a celebrity becomes an endorser for many diverse products and the relationship between the celebrity and a particular brand ceases to be distinctive (Mowen and Brown, 1981). This may not only compromise the value of celebrities in the eyes of their fans (Graham, 1989) but also make consumers overtly aware of the true nature of the endorsement, which has less to do with the attributes of the brand, and more to do with money (Cooper, 1984; Tripp, Jensen, and Carlson, 1994). Furthermore, celebrities may disappear from the media spotlight before the end of a contractual term even if they had won seven Olympic gold medals when it started (Ziegel, 1983). Last, it is unusual for celebrities to change their image suddenly, but when this occurs it can destroy the very rationale of the relationship. For instance, the ex-Spice Girl, Geri Halliwell, set out to divest herself of the group’s ‘naughty’ image by endorsing cancer charities and was appointed a ‘roving ambassador’ by the United Nations but lost much of the potential benefit of her new persona when a press photographer caught her smoking. PRIOR RESEARCH As can be inferred from this quick overview, the selection of celebrity endorsers is an important task. In consequence, the subject has attracted a considerable amount of academic and practitioner interest, from the foundations laid by Carl I. Hovland and his associates in the early 1950s (Hovland, Janis, and Kelley, 1953; Hovland and Weiss, 1951). Following his initial Source Credibility Model, three additional models have been proposed - the Source Attractiveness Model (McGuire, 1968), the Product Match-Up Hypothesis (Kahle and Homer, 1985; Kamins, 1989, 1990), and the Meaning Transfer Model (McCracken, 1989). Indeed, a recent literature review by Erdogan (1999) cites over 45 academic articles dealing with celebrity endorsement strategy in mainstream marketing and communication journals. The first of these models, the Source Credibility Model, contends that the effectiveness of a message depends on perceived level of expertise and trustworthiness of an endorser (Hovland and Weiss, 1951; Hovland et al., 1953; Ohanian, 1991). Information from a credible source (for example, celebrity) can influence beliefs, opinions, attitudes, and/or behavior through a process called internalization, which occurs when receivers accept a source influence in terms of their personal attitude and value structures (Kelman, 1961). Trust worthiness refers to the honesty, integrity, and believability of an endorser as perceived by the target audience. Although Friedman et al. (1978) found that trustworthiness is the major determinant of source credibility, Ohanian’s (1991) findings indicated that trustworthiness of a celebrity was not significantly related to purchase intentions. Expertise is defined as the extent to which a communicator is perceived to be a source of valid assertions. It refers to the perceived level of knowledge, experience, or skills possessed by an endorser (Hovland et al., 1953). A celebrity that is more of an expert has been found to be more persuasive (Speck, Schumann, and Thompson, 1988) and can generate more intentions to buy the brand (Ohanian, 1991). The Source Attractiveness Model contends that the effectiveness of a message depends on the similarity, familiarity, and liking of an endorser (McGuire, 1968). Similarity is defined as a supposed resemblance between the source and the receiver of the message, familiarity as knowledge of the source through exposure, and likability as affection for the source as a result of the source’s physical appearance and behavior. A generalized application to advertising has been suggested that ‘physical attractiveness’ of a communicator determines the effectiveness of persuasive communication through a process called identification, which is assumed to occur when information from an attractive source is accepted as a result of desire to identify with such endorsers (Kelman, 1961). Research has shown physically attractive communicators are more successful at changing beliefs (Baker and Churchill, 1977; Chaiken, 1979; Debevec and Kernan, 1984) and generating purchase intentions (Friedman et al., 1976; Petty and Cacioppo,1983; Petroshius and Crocker, 1989) than their unattractive There's advertising theory. And there's advertising practice. 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  • 2. counterparts. On the other hand, Caballero et al. (1989) found that positive feelings toward advertising and products do not necessarily translate into actual behavior or purchase intentions. The Product Match-up Hypothesis literature maintains that messages conveyed by the celebrity image and the product should be congruent for effective advertising (Forkan, 1980; Kahle and Homer, 1985; Kamins, 1989, 1990). The determinant of the match between celebrity and brand depends on the degree of perceived ‘fit’ between brand and celebrity image (Misra and Beatty, 1990). Advertising a product via a celebrity whose image is highly congruent with the brand leads to greater advertiser and celebrity believability compared with a situation in which there is low congruence (Kamins and Gupta, 1994). Indeed, this may be the reason for the extensive usage of attractive celebrities (for example, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Moss, Madonna, and Cindy Crawford) for personal care products, shampoo, skin and hair care, and make-up. The emphasis of product match-up research has been on the proper match between a celebrity and a product based on celebrity physical attractiveness. However, two studies by Ohanian (1991) and Till and Busler (1998) dealt with expertise and concluded that special attention should be paid to employ celebrities who are perceived to be experts by the target audiences. It is clear that the Match-up Hypothesis research may have to extend beyond attractiveness and credibility toward a consideration and matching of the entire image of the celebrity with the endorsed brand and the target audience. The source credibility and attractiveness models may be inadequate in providing a heuristic. for appropriate celebrity endorser selection as DeSarbo and Harshman argued in 1985. Indeed, similar research has been suggested by McCracken (1989) and undertaken by Langmeyer and Walker (1991a, b). According to McCracken (1989), celebrity endorsements are special examples of a more general process of meaning transfer. In this process, there is a conventional path for the movement of cultural meaning in consumer societies. This process involves three stages: the formation of celebrity image, transfer of meaning from celebrity to product, and finally from product to consumers. McCracken’s (1989) Model of Meaning Transfer may at first seem a merely theoretical concept, but its replicability to real life was demonstrated by two studies by Langmeyer and Walker (1991a, b). Their studies demonstrated that symbolic meanings possessed by celebrities (Cher; Madonna, and Christie Brinkley) transferred to the endorsed brand/product (Scandinavian Health Spas, bath towels, and blue jeans). THE STUDY The literature is predominantly U.S. - based and mostly comprises studies that test celebrity endorser characteristics in experiments using consumer samples. Only one study by Miciak and Shanklin (1994) investigated the factors taken into account by advertising practitioners when choosing celebrity endorsers based on a small sample including 21 agency and 22 company practitioners. As a result, there is a further need for a practitioner - based study with a larger and different (for example, British) sample that aims to understand the practitioner’s mindset in deciding which celebrity to utilize. Such a study may provide invaluable insights for British advertising agencies in striving to find the ‘right’ celebrity endorser for their clients’ brands. It may also be of use to practitioners in other countries, since U.K. - based advertising agencies are considered to be centers of excellence in the global marketing communication industry. Furthermore, this study may provide a ‘triangulation’ for previous consumer-based studies. In other words, the findings may shed light on how consistent the academic research in the field of celebrity endorsement is with the behavior of agency managers. Therefore, the study reported here first aimed to measure the importance of individual celebrity characteristics in order to ‘replicate’ Miciak and Shanklin’s study with a much larger sample. To do that, a measurement scale was developed from the literature and exploratory interview findings and pre-tested with six managers. The two methods of pre-testing (interviews and the form of the main survey) were simultaneously conducted with three managers per mode as suggested by Kinnear and Taylor (1996) in order to address the divided academic debate on the most appropriate method of pre-testing. In the first mode of pre-testing, authors first briefed managers about the objectives of the study and asked them to complete the questionnaire. Then, the researcher invited managers to comment on: the terminology used in the questionnaire and its relevance to advertising agency managers; about the layout and the length of the questionnaire; about the content and the sequence of the questions; and last about their further suggestions for improving the research instrument. The second mode was executed by mail, which included the cover page for the questionnaire, the questionnaire itself, a business-reply envelope (BRE), and also a letter inviting respondents to comment on the same issues covered during the interview mode. After incorporating the pre-test results, the number of scale items was 17, plus an ‘other’ option which subsequently generated no response at all. The reason for not using Miciak and Shanklin’s 25-item scale unmodified is that, during the pre-test stage, managers indicated that several items in their scale were confusing, repetitive, or unnecessary for British practitioners. This may have been due to the United Kingdom and the United States having different marketing communications styles. The second objective of the study was to test the relative importance of five celebrity characteristics for two types of products. The celebrity characteristics, (trustworthiness, expertise, physical attractiveness, familiarity, and likability) were taken from the identification and internalization processes described by Kelman (1961). The products selected were personal computers and blue jeans. While the former is a technical/attractiveness-unrelated product high in financial and performance risk (Kamins, 1989; 1990), the latter is a nontechnical/attractiveness-related product (Langmeyer and Walker, 1991b) that is relatively low in financial and performance risk. In order to achieve the second objective of the study, the following five hypotheses were constructed: H1 : A celebrity’s perceived trustworthiness is more important for managers when selecting a celebrity endorser for a technical/ attractiveness- unrelated product as opposed to a nontechnical/ attractiveness-related product. H2 : A celebrity’s perceived expertise is a more important criterion for managers when selecting a celebrity endorser for a technical/ attractiveness-unrelated product than a nontechnical/attractiveness-related product. H3 : A celebrity’s perceived physical attractiveness is more important for managers when selecting a celebrity endorser for a nontechnical / attractiveness-related product as opposed to a technical/ attractiveness-unrelated product. H4 : A celebrity’s perceived familiarity is a more important factor for managers when selecting a celebrity endorser for a nontechnical/ attractiveness-related product than a technical/attractiveness - unrelated product. H5 : A celebrity’s perceived likability is more important for managers when selecting a celebrity endorser for a nontechnical/attractiveness-related product as opposed to a technical/attractiveness-unrelated product. As can be gathered, the first two hypotheses propose that advertising agency managers regard source credibility criteria as more important for a technical/ attractiveness-unrelated product (for example, personal computers) than for a nontechnical/attractiveness-related product (for example, blue jeans). On the other hand, the last three hypotheses argue that managers value celebrity attractiveness factors as more important for a nontechnical/ attractiveness product (for example, blue jeans) than for a technical/attractiveness-unrelated product (for example, personal computers). METHODOLOGY The research design progressed from exploratory interviews to a mail survey. The first phase was exploratory, as it was felt that developing and testing hypotheses derived only from the literature would not provide a precise reflection of what factors might be considered by practitioners. It was reasoned that large advertising agencies were more likely to utilize celebrities in campaigns, since celebrities carry high price tags. In fact, the mail survey findings proved that this was the case. The agency sample was taken from a recognized listing of the 300 largest agencies in the United Kingdom (Campaign, 1997). Interviews were conducted with ten managers from nine advertising agencies who had extensive experience in celebrity campaigns (two CEOs, three account directors, two creative directors, a casting director, and two planning directors) and a celebrity director from a specialty research agency. Fax responses were also received from two agencies. After having explored the factors considered by practitioners in selecting celebrity endorsers, a mail survey was launched. The respondents included advertising agency directors/managers working at agencies that were members of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), the British equivalent of the 4As in the United States. Though they account only for around 10 percent of all advertising agencies in the United Kingdom, these transact more than 80 percent of total U.K. advertising expenditure (IPA, 1998). Purposive sampling was used with the objective of reaching agency managers who had been involved in celebrity campaigns. We first e-mailed agencies, which enabled us to determine only the names of managers in 10 agencies (10/206 = 4.8 percent). After this ‘fruitless’ attempt, the names of managers in the remaining agencies were obtained by phone. Besides identifying managers, these efforts allowed us to determine to which advertising agencies the survey was relevant, since some might not have utilized celebrities in their campaigns. Indeed, 58 out of 206 agencies were eliminated from the study for two reasons: 34 had no prior involvement in celebrity campaigns and 24 were media buying specialists and therefore not involved in the process of advertising development. At the end, 414 agency managers from 148 agencies were identified and included in the survey. After two waves, 131 out of 414 (31.6 percent) questionnaires from 80 out of 148 (54 percent) agencies were received. Considering that 20 to 30 percent response rates are considered to be good in Europe (Baker, 1992), this response rate is at the high end of the scale. It is in fact almost the same as the one obtained by Ferrell and Krugman (1983) from the U.S. advertising industry. As can be
  • 3. seen in Table 1, the majority of respondents worked for agencies having annual billings above 12 million pounds in 1998. One-way ANOVA and Bonferroni method of multiple comparison test results indicate that the response rate from the smallest agency category was significantly lower than all other categories except the second largest (F = 4.52, p < .001). As indicated earlier, the reason for this may be the fact that smaller agencies are less likely to utilize celebrities in campaigns than their larger counterparts. Although positions held by respondents varied from agency CEO/MD/ Chairperson to producers, account managers constituted the majority. However, there was no statistically significant difference among response rates. The domination of account managers (for example, executive director, director, manager, executive) was intentional since the exploratory interviews revealed that account managers were the most likely to manage the process of selecting celebrity endorsers (see Table 1). TABLE 1: RESPONSE RATES BY AGENCY SIZE AND POSITIONS Over 80 percent of the respondents had at least six years of work experience. All the respondents had been involved in celebrity campaigns, with more than 40 percent being involved with six or more celebrity campaigns at the time of the survey. In light of this response, we consider the findings representative of the population of U.K. advertising agencies actively involved in the recruitment and use of celebrities as endorsers. FINDINGS Since the exploratory interviews served as a backbone for the mail survey, we mainly report findings from the mail survey. Importance of celebrity characteristics in general Table 2 depicts mean scores for importance of celebrity characteristics in rank order. Celebrity-target audience and brand match-up, and overall image of the celebrity, scored very high on the 5-point Likert scale in which 5 = very important and 1 = very unimportant. This is in line with the findings of Friedman and Friedman (1978, 1979), Kahle and Homer (1985), Kamins (1990), Kamins and Gupta (1994), Langmeyer and Walker (1991a, 1991b), Misra and Beatty (1990), Ohanian (1990, 1991), and with arguments put forward by McCracken (1989). TABLE 2: MEAN SOURCES OF CRITERIA IMPORTANCE Respondents considered the cost and likelihood of hiring the celebrity, celebrity trustworthiness, controversy risk, prior endorsements, and celebrity familiarity and likability to be important factors. Risk of celebrities overshadowing brands and the stage of celebrity life cycle were somewhat important. Although previous academic research concentrated on celebrity expertise and physical attractiveness (Friedman, Termini, and Washington, 1976; Baker and Churchill, 1977; Chaiken, 1979; Debevec and Kernan, 1984; Speck, Schumann, and Thompson, Annual Agency Billings Questionaires Mailed Responses Received Percent Below £2.25m 43 5 11.6 £2.26m-£12m 114 43 37.7 £12.1m-£25m 52 20 38.5 £25.1m-£100m 89 19 21.3 Above £100m 116 44 37.9 Positions CEO/MD/Chairperson 56 20 35.7 Creatives 58 19 32.7 Account Managers 267 82 30.7 Planners 10 4 40.0 Producers 12 6 50.0 Mean Std. Dev. Celebrity-target audience match 4.65 0.66 Celebrity-product/brand match 4.56 0.69 Overall image of the celebrity 4.55 0.65 Cost of acquiring the celebrity 4.34 0.68 Celebrity trustworthiness 4.28 0.74 The likelihood of acquiring the celebrity 4.17 0.77 Celebrity controversy risk 4.13 0.86 Celebrity familiarity 4.12 0.79 Celebrity prior endorsements 4.07 0.78 Celebrity likeability 4.02 0.89 Risk of celebrity overshadowing brands 3.91 1.00 The stage of celebrity life cycle 3.59 0.96 Celebrity expertise 3.32 0.97 Celebrity profession 3.10 0.93 Celebrity physical attractiveness 3.09 0.80 Celebrity equity membership status 2.98 1.10 Whether celebrity is a brand user 2.63 0.83 Scores are obtained from a scale in which 5= Very Important and 1= Very Unimportant
  • 4. 1988; Petroshius and Crocker, 1989), these were indicated to be neither important nor unimportant along with celebrity profession and a celebrity’s membership of the actors’ union. A possible explanation for this discrepancy between scholars and practitioners could be that most advertising agency managers perceive a celebrity as a gestalt and do not differentiate attractiveness and credibility characteristics. Indeed, one of the respondents during the interviews claimed that ‘when a person is famous, people forget about what the person looks like as everyone knows the face, and it is hard to judge whether the person is pretty or ugly.’ Lastly, whether the celebrity is a brand user was considered to be unimportant to the decision. It is interesting that managers should consider this unimportant, since campaigns have suffered as a result of celebrities being caught using competitors’ brands or not using the product/ service at all. A British example occurred when Helena Bonham-Carter admitted in her first brand interview for Yardley that she rarely used make-up. In order to identify underlying characteristics of celebrity endorsers that are considered by agency managers, the scale was subjected to Exploratory Factor Analysis by using Principal Component Analysis Extraction with Promax Rotation. This procedure reduced the number of factors from seventeen to five (see Table 3). TABLE 3: FACTOR ANALYSIS OF IMPORTANT CELEBRITY ENDORSER CHARACTERISTICS All statistics support the use of factor analysis. The KMO test is at the high end of the scale (0.76), assuring that sampling is adequate, and the Chi-square score of Bartlett’s test of sphericity is also quite high with a very high level of significance (X2 = 623, P < .001). Components with eigenvalues greater than 1 and individual factor loadings of (+/—) 0.5 are considered to be significant (Hair et al., 1995). In fact, ‘overall image of the celebrity’ was disregarded despite showing as a separate item, because it had an eigenvalue and a factor loading less than 1 and 0.5, respectively. These five components account for 65 percent of the total variance: congruence, credibility, profession, popularity, and obtainability. In other words, when agencies decide upon a celebrity, five main issues are considered: Does the celebrity have congruent associations with the product/ brand and the target audience? Is the celebrity credible? What is the celebrity’s profession? Is he or she popular? Can we obtain his or her service? Five summated scales were calculated to correspond to the components. The alpha coefficients are acceptably high and are included in Table 3. Importance of celebrity characteristics according to product types In order to test the five hypotheses, the data were subjected to paired sample two-tailed t-tests. Respondents were asked to indicate each characteristic’s importance for each product on a scale from 5 = most important to 1 = least important. When taken together, all hypotheses test results imply that the agency manager’s behavior is in line with the product match-up hypothesis research (Kahle and Homer, 1985; Kamins, 1990; Misra and Beatty, 1990; Kamins and Gupta, 1994; Till and Busler, 1998) since they have indicated that the importance of specific celebrity characteristics differ according to product types. More specifically, as can be seen in Table 4, agency managers rated celebrity trustworthiness and expertise more important in the case of a technical/attractiveness-unrelated product than for a nontechnical/attractiveness-related product [(H1 t = 15.7, df = 125, P < .001) (H2 t = 14.7, df = 125 P < .001)]. On the contrary, they indicated that celebrity physical attractiveness, familiarity, and likability were more important for a nontechnical/attractiveness-related product than for a technical/attractiveness- unrelated product [(H3 t —23.9, df = 125, p < .001) (H4 1 —4.2, df = 125, p < .001) (H5 t=5.1, df = 125, p < .001)]. Thus, all hypotheses were upheld. TABLE 4: MEAN SCORES OF CELEBRITY CHARACTERISTICS FOR PCS AND BLUE JEANS In addition to testing these five hypotheses, three more paired sample t-tests were run in order to determine whether the most important individual celebrity characteristic for each product category is clearly more important than the others. The first test compared the relative Components Individual Items Loadings Congruence Celebrity physical attractiveness .77 a = .71 Celebrity-target audience match .73 Celebrity-product/brand match .68 The stage of celebrity life cycle .64 Credibility Celebrity controversy risk .86 a = .72 Celebrity prior endorsements .76 Celebrity trustworthiness .74 Profession Whether celebrity is a brand user .75 a = .68 Celebrity profession .73 Celebrity EQUITY membership status .63 Celebrity expertise .56 Risk of celebrity overshadowing brands .54 Popularity Celebrity familiarity .87 a = .75 Celebrity likeability .85 Obtainability Cost of acquiring the celebrity .83 a = .73 The likelihood of acquiring the celebrity .82 Eigenvalues 4.8 1.7 1.5 1.3 1.1 Variance explained (percent) 30 11 9 8 7 Characteristics Products Mean Std. Dev. Std. Error t df Sig. Trustworthiness PCs Blue Jeans 3.92 1.87 1.16 0.90 0.10 0.08 15.7 125 0.001 Expertise PCs Blue Jeans 3.68 1.65 1.25 0.92 0.11 0.08 14.7 125 0.001 Familiarity PCs Blue Jeans 3.28 3.69 1.09 0.89 0.10 0.08 -4.2 125 0.001 Likability PCs Blue Jeans 2.75 3.29 1.05 0.84 0.09 0.07 -5.1 125 0.001 Physical attractiveness PCs Blue Jeans 1.39 4.50 0.87 0.96 0.08 0.09 -23.9 125 0.001 Scores are obtained from a scale of 1 to 5 in which 5 = Most Important and 1 = Least Important
  • 5. importance of trustworthiness and expertise for a technical /attractiveness-unrelated product. Although managers indicated celebrity trustworthiness is more important than expertise, the difference is not statistically significant (1 = 1.6, df = 125, p <.11). Thus, these two credibility criteria are not distinctly more important than one another when deciding upon a celebrity endorser for agency managers for a technical/attractiveness-unrelated product such as PCs. The second test contrasted the importance of celebrity physical attractiveness with familiarity for a nontechnical/ attractiveness-related product. Results are statistically significant (1 = 6.3, df = 125, p <.001) showing that celebrity physical attractiveness is more important than familiarity. The last paired sample t-test also compared the importance of celebrity physical attractiveness with likability for a nontechnical/attractiveness-related product. Findings again indicate a statistically significant difference (1 = 10.1, df = 125, p < .001) between the importance of celebrity physical attractiveness and likability in favor of the former. As a result, it is safe to argue that physical attractiveness is the most important criterion among the three attractiveness factors for agency managers when selecting a celebrity endorser for a nontechnical/attractiveness-related product such as blue jeans. See Figure 1. CONCLUSION The findings of this study have a number of implications for both theory and practice. At the theoretical level, the research first shows that managers consider a set of criteria when selecting celebrity endorsers implying that managers do not see celebrities as unidimensional individuals (for example, attractive, credible). The reason for this may very well be that, as McCracken (1989) argues, celebrities are different from unknown endorsers as they represent a variety of meanings that are drawn from the roles they assume in television, film, politics, athletics, and so on. Secondly, the findings confirm that the importance of any criterion depends on the type of product. In other words, managers have implicitly incorporated the findings of product match-up hypothesis research in their decision making. For practitioners, the criteria presented in Table 2 provide a possible ‘check list’ of factors that should be considered in selecting celebrity endorsers, since none of the advertising agencies had any written documentation regarding celebrity endorsement strategy. The major limitation of the study is that managers were provided with generic product names in the instrument, but in reality most campaigns are about brands that already have meanings (associations) attached to them (Levy, 1959; McCracken, 1989; Myers, 1999). Therefore, the importance of criteria considered by agency managers may heavily depend on brands’ existing meanings as well as on the position of the brand in the market (for example, leader), specific campaign objectives, budget, and many other related factors with which the respondents were not provided. As a result, there is a need for further research integrating some or all of the above-mentioned factors. One further research route is to ‘replicate’ the study by providing respondents with such information as brand name and history, market position, specific campaign objectives, time period, and budget. 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