Celebrity endorsement

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Celebrity branding or celebrity endorsement is a form of advertising campaign or marketing strategy used by brands, companies, or a non-profit organization which involves celebrities or a well-known person using their social status or their fame to help promote a product, service or even raise awareness on environmental or social matters.[1] Marketers use celebrity endorsers in hopes that the positive images of the celebrity endorser of the brand will also be passed on to the products or the brand image associated with the celebrities.[2] Celebrity endorsement is usually commonly used by fashion or beauty brands,[1] but a non-profit organization relies on celebrities as well, as celebrities have mass communication skills which can attract people's attention and is helpful in reaching a wider audience to raise their awareness towards a certain organization or an issue,[3] thus making celebrities effective fundraisers.[3]


Through the 1760s, royal endorsements were used as a type of celebrity branding to promote products. The first product that used celebrity endorsements was in the 1760s, where Josiah Wedgwood and Sons, producers of pottery and chinaware, used royal endorsements as a marketing device to show value in the company and promote others their product ("Celebrity Endorsement – Throughout the Ages, "2004).

In 1875–1900s trade cards were introduced, this is where there would be a picture of a celebrity with a photo of the product. Typically, these trade cards would be given to consumers with the product or would be inserted on the packaging of the product itself, which would feature celebrities such as actors or sport stars.

Cigarette brands became hugely involved in celebrity branding, 'Kodas' cigarettes introduced baseball player cards into the packets of cigarettes as part of a customer loyalty scheme. This created a demand for consumers to buy more cigarettes so they could gain all the cards of all baseball players due to celebrity endorsement of the cards.

In the early 1930s the major trending celebrity endorsers were athletes, then by 1945 the trend changed and movie stars were the next big celebrity endorsers. In 1965, colour television was introduced to the marketing and there was a popular rising demand which was occurring, this in when television personalities and entertainers became a celebrity endorsement for communicating services and products.

Companies and firms in the 1980s then decided to start making products around celebrities ("Celebrity Endorsement – Throughout the Ages," 2004). An example of this is in 1984 when the company Nike noticed a talented and young basketball player called Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan then became Nike's celebrity brand ambassador for their sports industry. Nike extremely relied on Michael Jordan's social status to make the brand internationally well known.

Since companies started making products around celebrities and the celebrity becoming the brand ambassador for the company, athletes and entertainment celebrity's then started to negotiate salaries and pay out's for them representing the company due to the competition of other firms. Due to salaries always increasing because of the demands of the celebrity, usually, sales for the company that the celebrity was promoting would increase.

Furthermore, in the late 1900s, celebrity endorsements came to another level, instead of images of them promoting a brand, companies started to hold press conferences with the celebrity announcing special deals, this meant celebrities had now become a spokesman for the firm. As more companies got their celebrity ambassador to hold press conferences and announce special deals, sales for the brands were increasing immensely and more deals were introduced to the market.

In the year of the 2000s, studies have shown that by having a celebrity ambassador for a firm has improved sales enormously; such as Nike whom signed Tiger Woods in 1996 saw a $50million increase in sales on golf balls by 2002 ("Celebrity Endorsement – Throughout the Ages, "2004).

Celebrity reach[edit]

Celebrity branding or celebrity endorsement of a company's product is effective largely because celebrities have the potential to reach a large number of prospective consumers.

Reach can be loosely defined as the number of people that have seen and/or heard the brand's intended message at least once (Belch & Belch, 2012).[4] If a brand or company decides to use celebrity branding to market their product, it is highly probable that they are deciding to attempt to reach the largest assortment of potential consumers possible, rather than reaching a small number of consumers but more frequently – which is described as frequency (Belch & Belch, 2012).[4]

An example of the usefulness of a celebrity's reach can be shown in statistics taken from telegraph.co.uk regarding the world's most followed Instagram celebrities. The most followed Instagram celebrity is Selena Gomez, with each post that she makes being viewed by all or most of her 145 million followers. Cristiano Ronaldo is 2nd, with 144 million followers, and Ariana Grande is 3rd with 116 million followers.[5] A direct brand endorsement from one of these celebrities would be significant were they to post a picture with the company's product encouraging their followers to go out and purchase it, and this is on Instagram alone. Imagine the effect of a celebrity posting an endorsement across all of their social media, (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.). The reach that an A-list celebrity has possesses the ability to reach millions of potential consumers, and as a result can be an incredibly effective way to boost sales, or at the very least get a brand's name out there in a wider audience than before.

Brand image[edit]

There is a high focus placed upon the importance of choosing a reliable, trustworthy celebrity to endorse or sponsor a company's product, while still balancing the celebrity's attractiveness, power, and similarity of the celebrity's public image with the company's overall current, or intended brand image.

Brand image can be described as "the set of beliefs held about a particular brand" (Kotler, 1988).[6] Research carried out by Keller & Aaker in 1992 suggests that a brand with better positive brand image and attitudes is more likely to achieve heightened development within their relevant market. (Keller & Aaker, 1992).[7] Therefore, choosing a celebrity who is going to beneficially contribute to the existing or intended image and attitudes of the brand is vital to ensure the success of the celebrity branding.

Brand alliance[edit]

The brand alliance is a business strategy that can involve the intentional process of associating two or more established brand names in a specific attempt to attract attention from consumers and thus increase the chances of earning additional sales for all the businesses involved.

Brand recognition[edit]

Brand recognition is a huge part of celebrity branding. Brand recognition is where the general public is able to establish a brand from its attributes. It is most successful when a brand is exposed without a company name and is then recognized by the customer through the visual signifiers such as logos, slogans, and colors. An Example of this is Coke whereby their signature color is red and consumers acknowledge that. Brand Recognition is extremely effective in promotional campaigns. To measure brand recognition and the effectiveness it has on promotional campaigns, companies will conduct experiments on study groups for results. If brands are equal in quality similar products brand recognition will always have an advantage of higher sales (Investopedia. 2016).

This quote explains that there are two types of celebrity endorsement: explicit and implicit.

An example of explicit endorsement can be seen through Beyoncé's sponsorship deal with PepsiCo. In 2012 Beyoncé and PepsiCo sat down and penned a partnership deal that is estimated to be worth approx. $50 million, (Sisario, 2012),[8] that embraces the standard Pepsi print and TV commercials that Beyoncé will appear in, as well as a more unorthodox 'creative fund' for any future projects Beyoncé chooses to take on (Casserly, 2012).[9] This is an effective explicit endorsement because not only does Beyoncé have incredible reach, being one of the world's biggest female popstars, but also the term 'partnership' feels more genuine for consumers which may make them more likely to believe that Beyoncé is endorsing the Pepsi product because she believes in the product and the company behind it, rather than some celebrity endorsements which feel forced, or where consumers see through the endorsement and assume it's just a business decision on behalf of the celebrity to make some extra cash.

An example of implicit endorsement can be explained by noticing the growing number of 'Beats by Dre' portable speakers that have been appearing in pop and hip-hop music videos, (such music videos include Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj and Britney Spears (Ortiz, 2014[10])). The celebrities involved are not expressly mentioning the Beats product within their music videos, but their presence amongst these celebrities convey the message of it being a high-quality product associated with those of a high social class, particularly those who are industry leaders in music


  • Celebrity endorsements can build brand equity. An example of this is Nike, prior to Michael Jordan Nike mostly sponsored tennis and track athletes and decided to expand their market, which increased sales to become a multibillion-dollar company.
  • Celebrity endorsement is used as an advertising strategy, by using celebrity status and image, to promote a brand’s recognition, recall, and differentiation.[11] 
  • It helps customers to remember advertisements when seeing a celebrity that has already got a brand of their own, it will bring customers to try or purchase the product.
  • It also helps the brand to stand out over a brand that does not use celebrity branding.


  • Increased attention to the product and the brand
  • Polishing the image of the brand
  • Introduction of the brand to new and wider market
  • Repositioning of the brand
  • Guarantee of successful advertising of the brand

Advantages for sales and advertising[edit]

The advantages of celebrity branding are having a product that the endorser likes and utilizes and incorporates into their lifestyle as well as having some knowledge about the product. This would be an advantage in advertising the product because the endorser would be more passionate about the product and promote the product in a believable way that consumers would be persuaded by (Halonen-Knight and Hurmerinta, 2010).

Celebrity endorsements have considerable influence in sales when promoting a product and brand, as they can supply information, which is focused on the benefits and remarkable features of the product in an unbiased and standard form, which has a great effect on the business revenue (Popescu, G.H, 2014).

An advantage of celebrity branding is by using social networks, as it is a less cost-effective scheme of assembling and distributing information so that consumers become more aware of the product before purchasing it, as well as having great online consumer reviews will increase sales due to great advertisement is done by the company/brand and the celebrity promoting the product.

The most effective advertisements are those that are supported by celebrity endorsements. These celebrity endorsements result in beneficial results for the product or brand.[13]

Celebrities in advertising make the advertisement more noticeable to consumers, they stand out from the media clutter and are therefore a good basis of capturing and retaining consumer attention (Muda et al., 2012).[14] Studies have shown that using celebrities in advertising increases the message's persuasiveness which results in consumers having a better recall and recognition for the product or brand[15] (Zhou & Whitla, 2013). Muda et al. (2014) state that having celebrities in advertisements positively influences ad effectiveness measures (i.e. consumer attitudes towards the brand, consumer attitudes towards the ad, and purchase intentions).[16]

Celebrities are perceived to hold qualities such as attractiveness, expertise, trustworthiness and likeability, which advertiser's hope will be transferred to the brand or product consequently creating positive images for that product or brand (Muda et al., 2012).[14][14] Many consumers idolise celebrities and strive to imitate their lives with the clothes they wear and products they consume (Aureliano-Silva et al., 2015).[17] Celebrities create meaning for the consumer through their interactions with products in advertising (Muda et al., 2012;[14] Aureliano-Silva et al., 2015).[17][17]


Due to the high-profile lives of celebrities that are constantly being reviewed and scrutinized by the media, there are risks of using celebrities in advertising (Jin & Phua, 2014).[18]

The term eclipsing (also referred to as overshadowing) is used to describe the instance where a celebrity in an advertisement overshadows the product being advertised by occupying more time or space than the product being advertised, this is a negative for the advertiser as the product is not the main focus for the consumers (Ilicic & Webster, 2014).[19] It is crucial for the effectiveness of the advertisement to ensure that the product is the focus of attention (Keel & Nataraajan, 2012).[20]

Overexposure refers to the negative effect that is a result of when a celebrity endorses multiple products of a similar type at one time (Muda et al., 2012).[14] Consumers can become more sceptical of the celebrity's motives to endorse products and therefore may perceive the celebrity to be less credible when endorsing multiple products (Ilicic & Webster, 2011).[21]

Celebrity endorsements do not guarantee long-term favorable effects, due to the risk to advertisers that the celebrity endorser may get caught up in a scandal, creating negative perceptions to consumers (Zhou & Whitla, 2013).[15] Common celebrity scandals involve alcohol, drug, sex, or crime related events (Muda et al., 2012).[14] These scandals can have a negative effect on the image of the brand, as consumers' negative perceptions of the celebrity endorser may be transferred to the brand, therefore negatively influencing sales of the brand's products (Zhou & Whitla, 2013).[15] One of the largest profile celebrity endorsement scandals of recent history was the infidelity scandal of Tiger Woods in 2009, at the time, Tiger Woods was a brand ambassador for Nike golf apparel and footwear. It has been estimated that Nike lost approximately US$5–12billion due to this scandal (Zhou & Whitla, 2013).[15]

Consumers' views of the celebrity endorser may change, due to changes in the celebrity's image (Muda et al., 2012).[14] Changes in image may be a result of injury, physical appearance, change in marital status, or a decline in professional visibility and this can result in the celebrity endorser no longer suiting the product or brand being endorsed (Muda et al., 2012;[14] Keel & Nataraajan, 2012[20]).

  • Brand images can change if celebrities cause themselves a bad name or reputation.
  • Celebrities can be overexposed. An example of this is Tiger Woods when he worked for so many companies his credibility started to suffer.
  • Celebrities start to overshadow brands. Customers will start to focus on the celebrity rather than the product.


Using celebrity endorsement has its risks as well as its benefits.[12] Some of the opportunities provided by the endorsement may have two sides to it, making it a potential risk as well.

  • Celebrity may overshadow the product: There may be a chance of the celebrity getting more attention than the product being endorsed, which may lead to consumers remembering only the celebrity than the product.[22]
  • Credibility of Celebrity endorsements: Consumers are now more aware of how advertising and celebrity endorsements work, which brings them to question celebrity credibility within advertisements as more consumers are starting to voice their opinions asking if the brand or the product should be trusted based on the celebrity that is being paid to endorse the product.[22]

Bad strategy[edit]

Through celebrity branding there are many disadvantages for businesses that choose to take this strategy. Many disadvantages for celebrity branding could involve the celebrity overshadowing the business or having too much over exposure, other factors could also include bad image change or public controversy. The celebrity the business decides to use as the face of their campaign could have a negative impact on the organisation due to their previous image or a decline in their fame. If companies designing their new merchandise or product to fit the celebrity's image, the product may not be appealing to some consumers due to lack of trustworthiness, attractiveness or knowledge, and this will create a loss in purchases. Businesses can also run the risk of losing loyal customers to other competitors.


When a celebrity is promoting a brand there can be risks involved, where there is a miscommunication between the consumer and the representation of the product. In some cases, there is no connection between the product and the celebrity, which can become an effective or a defective result due to the position and relevance of the product. When Celebrity Branding does not work out for a firm, the celebrity can be seen as a scheme to promote the person as a marketing instrument. Ideally, some consumers believe that companies who use celebrity endorsers, as a marketing strategy to promote a product should choose an endorser who utilizes and enjoys using the product. Therefore, ethically they are trusting the brand and showing potential consumers the effects of the product and making the advertisement more believable. Rather than a celebrity endorser who is promoting the brand just because of their social status and there is no relevance between the product and the celebrity (Popescu, G.H, 2014).

Companies who use celebrity endorsers are at a risk financially, whether they are choosing the right celebrity endorser to represent their brand and return the favor with an increase in sales, or for the brand to become known on a wider scale. Firms are also taking risks in hoping that their chosen celebrity endorser will portray their brand in the correct way, because any small or big mistake can cost the company in a negative outcome, especially due to the celebrity's social status it can affect a huge audience. This could be due to miscommunication between the firm and the endorser advertising the product or service (Halonen-Knight and Hurmerinta, 2010).

Celebrity endorsement usually impacts the feelings of the customers and the position they have concerning the advertisement and the brands, thus enhancing the purchase intentions and the sales (Bondrea and $tefanescu-Mihäilä, 2004). Therefore, if there is a communication error, it can defeat the sale as well as portray the brand negatively. Financially, firms can invest up to millions of dollars when choosing a celebrity to promote their brand; therefore they do not wish for an undesirable impact.

Risk for companies[edit]

Although for a business, hiring a celebrity to endorse their brand would seem to be an effective and profitable way of expanding the growth of their brand – there is a severe risk with choosing this type of marketing strategy which could lead to damaging impacts on the business therefore choosing this strategy could be an beneficial or a huge disadvantage.

When observing the communication process, the three main factors when communicating information are through the sender, channel and receiver but then considering the noise surrounding it – noise being anything that can interfere with the intended message sent from the source to the receiver. (Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A. (2012).)[4] A company when choosing the celebrity to represent their brand, they have to carefully examine the reputation and image of this person and whether it coincides and complements with their product and purpose. A business needs to have confidence in this celebrity to remain acting a suitable way which does not diminish the reputation of the brand otherwise there could be a definite negative impact on the way a consumer interprets a message from the brand.

For example, in recent news the global Tennis star Maria Sharapova who has been a role model and highest paid female athlete ("Maria Sharapova: Is star's brand damaged goods? – CNN.com," 2016)[23] for the past 11 years since she was 17 was caught in a scandal after she failed a major drugs test. Sharipova, endorsing some of the biggest and most successful organisations like Nike, Poshe and Evian – was immediately dropped by these businesses as soon as word was out about the drug failure as it was evident that this would be harmful to the companies' reputation and would leave consumers with a different and undesired view of their brand. It is shown that even the most seemingly reliable and trustworthy celebrities can slip up and cause brand image and reputation to be put on the line.

The news of controversy surrounding a celebrity would be a definite source of noise and it alters the message a brand is trying to convey. Consumers would already have specific connotations and personal views on the celebrity after negative news about them has surfaced, which would consequently directly affect that same consumer's image of the company. This is known as the term 'Source-related Thoughts' where the source significantly sways the thoughts of the receiver. It has been said that "If consumers find a particular spokesman annoying or untrustworthy, they are less likely to accept what this source has to say...Receivers who react favourably to the source generate favourable thoughts, or source bolsters." (Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A. (2012).)[4] This would mean that if a company chose to market their brand using a celebrity they would have to make sure their target market would appeal to this person as they develop feelings for the consumer regardless of the brand their product. Therefore, there would no use in using a youthful teenaged movie star to endorse an anti-wrinkle cream or a very misogynistic politician to promote a campaign to women – people would not be in favour to trust or like the business because they dislike or do not relate with the celebrity spokesman representing it. Choosing a celebrity in which a business' target market will appeal to will convey and carry on the message effectively.

The entire aim of marketing and advertising is to draw attention to your business and persuade or manipulate the target market into consuming goods or services. The more attention brought to the company, the larger opportunities gained to communicate with consumers. With using celebrity branding, there is an advantage as because this person already has a large audience and following, attention can be drawn easily. It's how the business uses this attention decides whether the outcome is beneficial or negative to the brand because there are dear impacts if an error is made due to the many people watching and making judgments. The theory of market senses/sensory marketing is where a marketer relates to an audience on an emotional level. With taking advantage of the already built attention, the right celebrity branding whether the brand is looking for a celebrity with sex appeal or a reputation of charity or generosity, these can develop an emotional response and connection from consumers which can benefit the business greatly. Though of course if celebrities possess undesired traits, this can generate a negative emotional response which would turn consumers away from a brand. (Heath, R., Brandt, D., & Nairn, A. (2006).)[24]

Choosing to use the celebrity branding strategy to connect to consumers is either win or lose. With the future being so unexpected, using a celebrity to endorse a product and business could bring huge positives or could have immensely damaging effects but there is no way of predicting which outcome the business will get. By choosing the perceived most trustworthy and suitable celebrity relative to the business would be the safest bet to gain success and prevent reputation damage. Businesses need to outweigh the pros and cons and decide whether they are prepared to take the risk.


Kelman (1961) claims that a source (defined as the individual or group that intends to communicate an idea, or message to their target audience, also known as a sender (Finne & Grönroos, 2009[25])), will be more effective in their objective to convince consumers to purchase a product if the receivers perceive them as attractive, credible, and powerful (Kelman, 1961[26]). The attractiveness of the sender is determined by how much the audience likes the person that is making the statements about the company/product. The credibility can refer to how much we trust the individual's opinions/morals, and how convincing their belief in the product that they are sponsoring is (Rifon et al., 2004[27]). An individual is considered powerful when they can "affect behaviour because of perceived reward or punishment" (Dahlén et al., 2010).

One of the clearest examples of the importance of a celebrity's credibility when endorsing a product can be seen with Tiger Woods's endorsement of Nike in 2000. The involvement of Tiger Woods within Nike "resulted in the acquisition of approximately 4.5 million customers and $60 million in profit" (CBS Interactive Inc., 2010[28]). However, following the 2009 scandal, (Tiger was caught sleeping with around 7 women while married to his wife (Bacon & Busbee, 2012[29])), Nike began to see shifts in their sales. According to a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business, "the scandal cost Nike $1.7 million in sales and lost the company nearly 105,000 customers..." (Carnegie Mellon University, 2010[30]). This just goes to show that although Tiger Woods was still attractive to consumers, and still a very powerful man, he was no longer credible and as a result his endorsement in the later years did more harm than good.


Actress and model Lin Chi-ling at the LG New Chocolate Phone launching event for the BL40, 2009, Hong Kong

Celebrity branding is used to help create a further image as a brand. The use of celebrities helps to humanize the brand. This creates a brand identity as consumers begin to relate the celebrities' characteristics with the brands.[31] There are different ways CELEBRITY BRANDING CAN BE USED IN PAID AND UNPAID ENDORSEMENT METHODS.

Celebrity branding can take several different forms, from the appearance of a celebrity in advertisements for a product, service or charity, to a celebrity attending PR events, creating his or her own line of products or services, or funher name as a brand.[citation needed] The most popular forms of celebrity brand lines are for clothing and fragrances. Some singers, models and film stars have at least one licensed product or service which bears their name.[example needed] The use of a celebrity or of a sports professional can have a huge impact on a brand. For example, sales of Nike golf apparel and footwear doubled after Tiger Woods was signed up on a sponsorship deal.[32]

Celebrities also provide voice-overs for advertising. Some celebrities have distinct voices which are recognizable even when faces are not visible on a screen. This is a more subtle way to add celebrity branding to a product or service. An example of such an advertising campaign is Sean Connery's voice-over for Level 3 Communications.[citation needed]

Celebrity branding is a global phenomenon and it assumes paramount importance in countries like India,[citation needed] where the public may treat celebrities as virtual demi-gods. There is a certain correlation[which?] between successful celebrity branding and brand endorsements. More recently,[when?] advertisers have begun attempting to quantify and qualify the use of celebrities in their marketing campaigns by evaluating their[whose?] awareness, appeal, and relevance to a brand's image and the celebrity's influence on consumer buying behavior.[citation needed]

However, in some cases the celebrity did not give permission to be associated with the brand and was wrongly attributed to the brand. For example, on July 23, 2008, Taco Bell launched their "Why Pay More?" campaign and used 50 Cent's name and trademark as a way to endorse their low-cost menus.[33] 50 Cent was unaware of this endorsement and therefore sought out legal action. He filed a lawsuit against Taco Bell and sued for $4 million.[33] He won the case.


In 2001, actress Anna Friel and her partner David Thewlis, who posed for fashion photographer Henry Bond, were reportedly paid £50,000 to appear in Mulberry's 2001 autumn/winter campaign.[34]

Paid endorsement or overt endorsement involves a contract between the brand and the celebrity for the celebrity to represent the brand in an advertising campaign. The contract may involve some restraints on the celebrity's act; such as cutting their hair or endorsing a direct competitor.[35] Paid endorsements involves a contract between the brand and the celebrity to represent the brand. The celebrity will generally gain a sum of money for endorsing the brand but also have a few guidelines to follow.[36] Some methods of paid endorsements are:

  • Advertisements

Advertisements can include television advertisements, radio, billboards, or magazine posters showing the celebrity in the brands advertisement to help increase the products image. The celebrity could be seen using the product, or the main character, as being seen in the advertisement can help viewers associate them with the brand.[37] An example of Celebrity Branding in an advertisement is George Clooney in Nespressos 'What else' advertising campaign. Celebrities used for voice-overs or radio advertisements generally have a distinct voice that viewers will recognize like Morgan Freeman's voice.

  • PR Events

Brands use events for the celebrity to be seen at, as it helps show their support or association with the brand. Having photos taken of the celebrities at the event makes the viewers associate them with them supporting the brand, making the viewer associate a positive connection. This can be done through celebrities hosting the brands event, like Victoria Secret Show, using celebrities to perform on the catwalk.

  • Social Media

Celebrities promote the brand using social media using social media, like Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat. This helps the brand target the celebrities' followers to create an association between the two.

Social media sites, including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, are a popular non-traditional medium for celebrities endorsing products and brands (Jin & Phua, 2014[18]). The advantages of using celebrity endorsements on social media is the large reach that celebrities have. This means that large audiences are exposed to the influence of the celebrity to encourage positive purchasing behaviours towards the brand (Jin & Phua, 2014).[18] In 2013, the most followed accounts on Twitter with more than 30million followers each were Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry (Jin & Phua, 2014).[18] Jin and Phua, (2014) state that the more followers someone has the greater perceived social influence they hold.[18] As well as having reach to their followers, any post may be shared by their followers to extend that reach to further audiences (Jin & Phua, 2014[18]). Another benefit of using social media for celebrity endorsements is the interactive nature of this non-traditional media, (Cunningham & Bright, 2012),[38] this helps to build the relationship between the celebrity endorser, consumer and the brand.

In 2009, growing concern about consumers being misled by celebrity endorsers on social media platforms led to the Federal Trade Commission introducing a set of guidelines to protect consumers called "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising" (Cunningham & Bright, 2012).[38] As a result, celebrity endorsers are required to advise consumers when they have been paid to endorse a product (Cunningham & Bright, 2012),[38] this can be done through the use of hashtags #ad, #spon, #paid

  • Instagram

The hiring of a spokesman or celebrity has increased as a digital marketing technique. Celebrities have been endorsing products and services of businesses on television and print media for decades. However, the social networking site Instagram is now often used as a platform for businesses to market products or services either through a third parties page, such as a celebrate, or directly through their own Instagram page.[39] Having started as a social networking site, Instagram has evolved into a successful marketing tool. What is special about Instagram is the fact that it encourages electronic word of mouth, which exist solely on the concept of sharing. Companies can simply tag the username for the businesses Instagram page to allow other potential consumers to browse through that Instagram account in just one click.[40]

The culture of advertising on Instagram came naturally when businesses realized that celebrities have a direct means of communication to their target demographic. According to the Telegraph (2015), the ten most popular Instagram accounts are all celebrities who all have around 30 million followers. By partnering with one of these celebrities, businesses are already reaching an engaged and targeted audience of 30 million people. Many of America's top-earning celebrities Instagram accounts are continually promoting products such as health supplements, vitamins and detox teas. These aren't spontaneous proclamations, but rather posts paid for by brands to advertise products to the celebrities' sizable following.[41]

On Instagram alone a profile with three-to-seven million followers can charge as much as $75,000 per endorsement, even a profile with 50,000 to 500,000 followers might make $1000 for a post on Instagram. At the top end of the digital celebrity pay scale some posts can earn around $300,000, especially when Instagram pictures can be easily linked to other social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.[42]

One of the celebrities that is most well known for promoting brands on her Instagram page is Kim Kardashian. She currently posts advertisements for at least eight different brands, ranging from jewelry to morning sickness medication, with an estimated earning of $51 million from posting on her social media channels alone.[41] Similarly, footballer Cristiano Ronaldo endorses TAG Heuer through his Instagram account, he dutifully thanks them for the watches he has been given as a 'gift' and signs of his posts on Instagram with the companies advertising slogan.

Global brands are expanding the use of digital communication via social media. Companies who use Instagram as a form of digital communication include, high fashion brands such as Christian Louboutin and Chanel. Both have been known to send products to influential users in return for an Instagram post and acknowledgement.

Puma SE have recently increased their digital marketing campaigns through the use of sponsored adverts and endorsements on Instagram.[43] This now allows products to be bought directly from the social media platform.[44] As well as facilitating interactions with the companies target audience, promoting products through instagram can also generate media coverage.[45] For example, Puma have aligned with Kylie Jenner to create the Puma Fierce trainer; reactions on social media to this collaboration from the likes of Kanye West have increased the awareness of the product.[46]

Celebrity advertisement posts on Instagram can generate upwards of 10 million engagements, according to social media data provider D’marie Archive. This makes these forms digital marketing communication an attractive bet for advertisers seeking millennial eyes. Furthermore, the principle analyst at eMarketer Debra Williamson states that these celebrities influence teens and young adults when it comes to making a purchase, firms can reach out to people through Instagram that otherwise would not be reached.[47] This is because visual images tend to be more engaging than text alone.[48] Instagram has become an interactive channel that brands can use to communicate with their customers on a more personal level.

As Instagram has transformed into one of the most influential forms of mass communication, the rules surrounding Instagram advertisements have been developed overtime to ensure that institutions do not misuse the platform.

Unpaid endorsement[edit]

Unpaid endorsement or covert endorsement occurs when a celebrity wears or uses the product of a certain brand because they like it.[35] Brands can send free samples to celebrities to try out their product, and review or use on social media to give their opinion on the product. Lots of beauty companies use this to get YouTube reviewers to review their product so they get free advertising. Sometimes a celebrity is given merchandise by a brand to use or wear in public where there is maximum exposure, such as an event. This is called "gifting"[35] and the celebrity might endorse the brand by taking a photo of the gift and putting it on their social media account for their fans and followers to see. Whilst the "gifting" may appear to be unpaid, costs are associated with this endorsement, as the brand does not have any contract in place with the celebrity and will have little or no protection against what happens during the unpaid endorsement.[35] Celebrities are seen wearing or using the product due to liking it themselves. They could be seen wearing the product in public or in photos on social media. This is 'free advertising' for the brand. A disadvantage of this is the brand has no control over what message or image the celebrity associated with the brand is portraying.[49]

Celebrity endorser criteria[edit]

When companies are selecting a celebrity to endorse their brand, they must match a certain criteria that they wish for the brand to be associated with. The celebrity must fill the gap between the consumer and brand when one is present.[36]

  • Audience: The celebrity must be able to connect and reach the audience the brand is most compatible with.
  • Characteristics: Must fit the brands characteristics so that they associate the right values with the brand.[50]
  • Image: Brands must look and see if the celebrities image is one the brand wants to be associated with, making sure they look into the celebrities image and past in case it could put the company into a bad light. If the celebrity has a negative image, the brand could be perceived that way too.[51]
  • Attractiveness: A positive attitude is associated with attractive people. The more attractive a celebrity is, the more effective the endorsement will be.[52] They look at the physical attributes the celebrity has such as body shape, facial features, and nationality.[53]
  • Cost: Some celebrities can cost more than others due to popularity. The amount the celebrity costs to have endorsed a product or service can influence whether they are selected or not.
  • Credibility: The credibility of the celebrity will transfer onto the brand so they must ensure the celebrity has a credible reputation.[54] If a celebrity is already endorsing other brands or has endorsed a lot of brands in the past, this can have a negative effect on the brand image as consumers could believe that they are only doing it for the money and their credibility could come into question on whether the product is actually as good as what they are saying, creating the brands credibility to come into question also.[53]

Advantages vs. disadvantages for brands[53][edit]


  • Instant brand awareness: People will begin seeing, and associating the celebrity with the brand meaning the brand is more recognizable, building stronger brand awareness.[55]
  • Personality Transfer: Using celebrity branding, can create a personality transfer where the brand inherits the personality of the celebrity. This can be an advantage if the celebrity has a positive reputation as the brand gains the attributes of the celebrity.[31]
  • Define and refresh brand image: The celebrity's attributes help to create the brands attributes, and can also refresh a brands image so that people know exactly what the brand stands for. Some brands also use it to re brand as their image as before it might not have had a strong brand image that saw it in a positive light.[56]
  • New consumers: When a celebrity endorses a brand, they often bring their followers along too, creating new consumers for the brand as they can reach a new market. The celebrity appeals to their consumers, which then can become the brands consumers, as they want to try what their celebrity is endorsing.
  • Influences consumer purchases: New consumers arise as they follow the celebrity. This creates the outlook that if the celebrity thinks the product is great, then they should try it too. They desire to be like the celebrity, which influences the sale.[52]
  • Brand Positioning: Using a celebrity can help position the brand or product in the mind of the target market become a positive connection. This can increase the brand position over other brands.[50]
  • Lasting Publicity: Even after the endorsement deal is over, consumers will still associate the brand with the celebrity. Brands will gain that connection with the consumers without needing the celebrity as a current endorser.


  • Image change: Since the brand is being associated with a celebrity, everything they do will be associated with the brand. A bad celebrity image change, changes the brands image and can cause a drop in popularity, losing consumers and credibility of the brand.[51] An example of this was Maria Sharapova being dropped by three of her major sponsors such as Nike, after failing a drug test at the 2016 Australian Open. Celebrities can make mistakes and the brand can choose to back their endorser or drop them to avoid their reputation being tarnished too.
  • Loss of popularity: If a celebrity loses followers by becoming less popular, which could be done through negative actions the brand will also lose popularity with that market. The loyalty of the consumers to the brand will only stay if they are loyal to the celebrity.
  • Overexposure: Celebrities credibility can suffer if they are endorsing too many brands or products, especially in similar fields. This makes consumers associate the celebrity with lots of brands, rather than one distinct one making their association with the brand not as strong and compelling.
  • Overshadowing: By a celebrity endorsing the product, consumers can just be interested in the celebrity rather than following the brand.[54] This means that they don't actually create a connection with the brand, as their attention is focused on the celebrity, overshadowing the initial product or brand.

Advantages vs. disadvantages for celebrity[edit]

Celebrity endorsement also affects the celebrity. The brand itself can have a positive and negative influence on the celebrities' image showing a reverse effect of the celebrity endorsing the brand.[57]


  • Positive image: If the celebrity becomes an endorser for a company with a positive image, the celebrity can gain the same reputation of the brand they are associated with. This could be if they join with a brand who is environmentally friendly, the celebrity can be seen to be environmentally friendly also.
  • Income: Brands will pay a huge amount for celebrities to endorse their product or service. This means celebrities gain more income for just associating them with the brand.
  • Fame: Celebrities can also gain a bigger following from the brands consumers. They think that if the celebrity likes a brand they do, that they should like the celebrity too.


  • Lose credibility: If the brand does something deemed unacceptable by consumers, the celebrity can also be seen in this light. This could cause followers of the celebrity to be doubtful of them, not just the brand. Assumptions could be made that the celebrity agrees with all actions of the brand and become less credible by association.[54]
  • Put off other endorsements: By celebrities endorsing one brand, they could put off other brands offering them endorsement deals meaning they could miss out on more money or getting a deal with a brand they like more. They could also be seen as disliking other competitor brands or not able to associate themselves with other brands such as Nike and Adidas, as they in the same market.


Celebrity branding has become a marketing strategy to help appeal a brand to new consumers. They are a way for brands to increase their sales and grow their market, having a huge influence on society as they are seen as opinion leaders.[58] Brands build a relationship with new consumers through celebrities endorsing their products. Celebrities can capture the consumer's attention and identify with the brand, leading to sales and making the brand more desirable over other competitors. They also have an influence over their followers due to consumers showing an increase in obsession with celebrities'.[50] A connection can be made with the consumers in a way brands cannot. Some generations look up to celebrities as they can aspire to be like them. Many brands will ride the celebrity's success wave when using them in an endorsement.[59]


It is important for a brand to choose their celebrity endorser carefully after considering factors, such as who fits the brand's image and what kind of message the brand wants to get across to the audience.[60] It is also important for the celebrity endorser to be attractive, credible, and trustworthy as the image of the celebrity enhances advertising effectiveness.[61]

A report by Brand Affinity Technologies (BAT), a celebrity marketing company, discusses the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement in social media advertising. In 2011, BAT analyzed 200 social media endorsements against comparable social media advertisements that did not feature any celebrities and found that endorsed messages gave performance rates huge lifts: the results showed that 50% improvement was made in cost-per-action for endorsed messages over non-endorsed advertising, and the click-through-rates for endorsed messages were 17~21 times higher.[62]

Match-up hypothesis[edit]

The match-up hypothesis generally suggests that the image of the product or the brand that is being endorsed by the celebrity should match the image of the celebrity to make an effective advertisement.[63][64] The match-up hypothesis is only relevant when the product or the brand that is being advertised is related to a product that enhances one's attractiveness.[63][64] Thus, it is not only important that the images of the product and the celebrity matches, but the importance of the need for the two images to match on an attractive basis is emphasized.[63]

Example one (touchpoints)[edit]

The All Blacks partnership with Adidas is again an accurate example. It is always made apparent that the All Blacks are wearing Adidas in any form of media they appear in. Adidas benefits from its alliance with the All Blacks because of the All Black's high reputation and the fact that they use only the best equipment. The All Blacks are constantly followed on every form of media. This concludes the reason as to why Adidas is their main sponsor – they want to be a part of the 'All Blacks' fame and success.

Consumers decipher the cultural codes embodied in celebrity images and actively identify personal, social and cultural meaning in these idols. Therefore, this is why celebrity branding and endorsing through technology has become increasingly more of a trend with initial touch points of communicational advertising. More and more corporate brands are enlisting celebrities to differentiate their brand and create a more competitive advantage through media (IIicic & M. Webster, 2015).[65] For example, if there are two brands that have a similar or identical product, it is almost guaranteed that the brand with the more established and well-known celebrity will be more successful in sales and interest (Ambroise, Pantin-Sohler, Valette – Florence & Albert, 2014[31]). Big companies such as Adidas and Nike use high-profile celebrities to appeal to the emotional side of the average consumer. Celebrities provide much more than entertainment. They influence consumers' perceptions, behaviours, values and decisions (Choi and Rifon, 2012).[66]

Celebrity branding has become a necessary tool for promoting and communicating brands. Whereas once there were only the three traditional methods, they are no longer utilized as much. Due to all of the new intrusive and personal forms of media, celebrities' lives have become more transparent to the public, making them seem as if their lifestyles are more attainable. Touchpoints are one of important reasons for this. Celebrities are therefore viewed as an honest and reliable source of information as people assume they are using what is being endorsed. The social meanings within a celebrity branding are the attributes of the celebrity's individuality and the values of society (Turner, 2014).[67][68]

Celebrity entrepreneurial branding[edit]

Celebrity entrepreneurial branding refers to when a celebrity associates themselves as a financial stakeholder and/or decision maker of a product line (Muda et al., 2014). There are three types of involvement that a celebrity can have with the branding of a product line, these are mono-branding, co-branded celebrity products and noncelebrity-branded products (Keel & Nataraajan, 2012).[20] Clothing and fragrances are the most common types of product lines (Patra & Datta, 2010[69]).


Mono-branding refers to when a product carries only the name of the Celebrity and the manufacturer does not directly associate itself with the product (Keel & Nataraajan, 2012[20]). Keel and Nataraajan (2012) state that mono-branding is commonly used to expand the customer base, or to extend the brands.[20] An example of this, is the collaboration between manufacturer Elizabeth Arden and Britney Spears who created the Britney Spears fragrance line (Keel & Nataraajan, 2012[20]).

Co-branded celebrity products[edit]

Co-branded celebrity products refers to a strategic alliance between two brands, to develop, produce and market a product, whilst all parties retain their name (Keel & Nataraajan, 2012[20]). Oeppen and Jamal[70] (2014) state there are three levels of co-branding: reach/awareness co-branding, value endorsement co-branding and value awareness co-branding. Reach/awareness co-branding is the lowest level and its purpose is to maximize brand awareness (Oeppen, & Jamal, 2014[70]). On the second level is value endorsement co-branding which aims to align either both or one of the brand's values in the consumers mind (Oeppen, & Jamal, 2014[70]). Finally, ingredient co-branding. This level of co-brandings aims to create higher value creation by using the product of a market leading brand "as a component of another brand" (Oeppen, & Jamal, 2014[70]). Co-branded celebrity products is commonly used in order to create greater value, expand customer base and increase brand awareness for both brands involved (Keel & Nataraajan, 2012[20]). An example of a co-branded celebrity product is the collaboration between Taylor Swift and Keds footwear who in 2012 released a range of shoes called the Taylor Swift for Keds Collection (Kreller & Sabatelle,[71] 2013).

Noncelebrity-branded products[edit]

Noncelebrity-branded products are products that are not branded with the manufacturer or the celebrity's name (Keel & Nataraajan, 2012[20]). Keel and Nataraajan (2012[20]) state that this method of celebrity branding is commonly used when the endorsing celebrity has a 'narrow audience', is of limited appeal to the wider market, or the celebrity-product relationship is not a perfect fit. The product or brand may have better success or broader appeal if it is not directly associated with the celebrity entrepreneurial endorser. This is largely common in the food industry, with many celebrities opening restaurants for example Arnold Schwarzenegger opened Schatzi, an Austrian restaurant. An example of this in an alternative industry is the clothing line 6126, which was founded by Lindsay Lohan (Keel & Nataraajan, 2012[20]).

Famous musicians collaborating with designer brands[edit]

Society at large has embraced the fashion choices of numerous musicians, and collaboration of famous musicians and designer brands is not exclusive to the 21st century. For instance, Nirvana's lead-man, Kurt Cobain, represented 90's grunge fashion while rapper Tupac Shukar was a symbol for 90's hip hop fashion. When hip hop music sales increased throughout the 1980s and 1990s, many apparel manufacturers wanted to capitalize on the trend. Karl Kani, a clothing brand centered around urban hip hop culture, attributed most of its success to the likes of Tupac and Mos Def wearing its apparel.[72] Music and fashion continue to intersect today due to the trend of celebrity musicians collaborating with designer brands. According to the Journal of Marketing Management, celebrity endorsement can be effective because consumers believe in the celebrity figures and consequently support the brands that the endorser markets. Evaluation of celebrity branding also suggests that credible advertising messages, coupled with the right endorser, can build consumer loyalty for the brand.[73] Companies today often work with famous musicians to reap various benefits for their business such as increasing brand awareness. Singer and songwriter, Lana Del Rey, collaborated with H&M, and a study found that the posts containing Del Rey on the Facebook brand page received more likes than their regular posts, averaging out to around 667,000 likes per post.[74] Over the past couple of years, many other well-known musicians have started their own capsule collections with designer brands.

FENTY PUMA by Rihanna[edit]

In December 2014, Grammy award-winning artist, Rihanna became a brand ambassador and creative director of the fashion sportswear brand PUMA. In this role, Rihanna oversaw the brand's women's line which included collaborations in apparel, footwear, and accessories. In 2015, Rihanna released her first footwear collaboration with PUMA, the Creeper, which sold out within three hours of its pre-sale launch.[75] Following the success, Rihanna and PUMA teamed up to create her very first fashion line named after her last name: FENTY PUMA by Rihanna. Each of the collection's seasons has introduced a different concept visually. The first season that dropped had roots in goth-streetwear culture, the 2017 spring/summer collection was French-inspired and described by Rihanna as, "If Marie Antoinette was going to the gym and needed something to wear." [76] Furthermore, the 2018 autumn/winter drop features a collection influenced by different cliques of high school. The apparel pieces features elements like exaggerated block letters and preppy silhouettes all designed by the help of the singer herself. In an interview with Vogue, Rihanna said, "I have never gotten the chance to dress up in school. I always had to wear a school uniform...making this collection, I was able to have a little fun and play and create." [77] Rihanna's last collection with PUMA dropped on March 15, 2018 fusing race culture and beach wear. According to Rihanna, making this collection "was definitely a challenge" but she "really wanted to make something that was completely different" than anything she's ever done before with PUMA. The introduction of Rihanna's line has not only been praised by critics and fashion bloggers, but has brought the company great success. Since the collaboration with the musician, PUMA has seen a 183% increase in searches on their site and Rihanna's velvet Creepers won Shoe of the Year Award in 2016.[78]

GUESS x A$AP Rocky[edit]

In 2016, GUESS collaborated with rapper, A$AP Rocky, on a capsule collection featuring a line of apparel and accessories for both men and women. Because A$AP Rocky is a prominent rapper who has also been known for his style and interest in the fashion industry, the Los Angeles native brand, GUESS, paired up with him to release a 90's hip-hop throwback collection with a modern spin. Referring to the initial concept of the collaboration, Rocky said, "It was just all about doing this whole throwback thing and bringing back Guess and just showing its importance in hip hop. Let’s be real, Guess was the s**t for hip hop." [79] The line of apparel features iconic GUESS pieces like the triangle logo, colorful stripes, and distressed denim jackets with a redesigned version of the GUESS logo on the back. Most of the pieces in the collection replace the original "s" in "GUESS" with embroidered dollar signs in order to represent the rapper's insignia. According to Rocky, the line was also meant to feel nostalgic “I just wanted to bring back that feeling for our generation. There’s so much that they don’t know about, even with access to the Internet. I have a platform, so I’m just trying to show kids what they missed out on. They don’t know about the ‘80s and early ‘90s.”[80] During the summer of 2017, the rapper and GUESS hosted pop up shops in New York City and West Hollywood where celebrities and fans attended to get the first chance to purchase something from the collection. Despite the buzz from his collaboration with GUESS, the company still reported a loss of $21.3 million in its fiscal first quarter as of May 2017.[81]

Fred Perry x Amy Winehouse Foundation[edit]

Fred Perry is a British clothing brand founded in 1952 by triple Wimbledon champion, Fred Perry. The brand is known for its expensive yet casual wear, cashmere polos, sport-inspired wear, and involvement in mod culture. In 2010, the brand collaborated with the late British singer, Amy Winehouse to release a 50's and 60's inspired collection all designed by Winehouse herself. Richard Martin, former marketing director for Fred Perry, said the brand chose to collaborate with Winehouse because they "were aware she was a genuine fan of the brand" and because "Amy has a unique sense of style that reflects the brand's own historical reference points." [82] For the collection Winehouse was inspired by her own retro wardrobe and said, "I still dress like I am in the 50's." The line varies in its product assortment, featuring plaid shirts and rompers, vintage sweaters, and polos with embroidery replicating the singer's own tattoo designs. The singer was only alive during the first drop of her collaboration which featured pieces like an argyle longline sweater that she was often seen wearing in the public, as well as during her recording session with Tony Bennett. After Amy Winehouse passed away on July 23, 2011, Fred Perry eventually received permission from her family to continue to release the rest of the collection over the next couple of years. Mitch Winehouse, the singer's father said, "When Fred Perry came to us to ask what we would like to do with the new collection, it was natural to continue. Amy loved working on both collections and would want them to be made available." [83] The singer's collection with Fred Perry is still available for sale online, but some of the new pieces are not based on original designs by Ms. Winehouse. Instead, her tattoo artist, Henry Hate and the Fred Perry design team have collaborated to continue working on the collection. Since the new collaboration, all sales from the collection's Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 pieces were donated to the Amy Winehouse Foundation. The Amy Winehouse Foundation was started by the singer's parents after she passed away, and mainly aims to prevent the effects of drug and alcohol misuse on young people. Fred Perry continues to make seasonal donations to the Amy Winehouse Foundation.[84]

In today's world[edit]

In modern-day[when?] many businesses have chosen to use celebrities in their marketing communications to make their product or organisation seem appealing to consumers, this type of strategy is used to increase sales and help the business seem more popular than other competitors. By using many known celebrities to be the face of their business campaign this puts a high emplacement of the brand in the consumers mind and helps shows trustworthiness, expertise and attractiveness by the use of the celebrity (Escalas & Bettman, 2015, p. xx). By using celebrities it not only makes the consumer feel attracted to the product it also maintains attention and keeps a higher recall about the business in their minds due to their fame in today's modern environment. Many businesses around the world are flooded with competitors so turn to celebrity branding to appeal to their targeted consumers, due to celebrities being seen as role models this will trigger a sense of need and satisfaction to the product in the consumers mind and will make them be able to related more to the business.

Relating to marketing and advertising[edit]

Celebrity branding is crucial in the delivery of a message from the communicators to the audience. These celebrities are often referred to as opinion leaders or OLs. An opinion leader is a well-known individual or group that is used to help influence an opinion on a certain subject or matter due to their perceived social standing. Not to be confused with an opinion former, who is someone who holds professional expertise due to previous study and/or employment and is known to be knowledgeable within the field.[85] These celebrities or OL's will communicate to the audience through socially mediated communications that enable the audience themselves to create a meaning through their own interactions. Examples of outlets include magazines, billboards, television ads, social media promotion and promotional events.

Opinion leaders are the first step in the elements of persuasion. This is most important to the pre-purchase experience when a consumer is most interested in the marketing of the product they are intending to buy. The power of the persuasion that the opinion leader possesses will change depending on many different factors. The first is their credibility, this also works in turn with perceived trustworthiness. Consumers are more likely to believe that the campaign is genuine if the opinion leader is someone who has a reputation for being honest and credible. Another factor is their expertise in that field, although they don't have to be at an opinion formers level of expertise, any previous actions, study or jobs that may help the consumer believe that they do know a little bit about what they are promoting, also helps with the authenticity of the advert. For some, the more superficial values hold the most weight in persuasion so the mere fact that the OL is attractive is a key for them, also their social standing not only effects the reach of promotion, but also can attribute to the persuasiveness. People who are the most effected by opinion leaders are those who are often engaged under the peripheral route. The peripheral route is less analytical of the actual product at hand, but will be persuaded due to other factors including an opinion leader that the consumer likes, or attractive elements of the packaging. Whereas those who undertake the central route of persuasion are less affected by these often superficial features and are more likely to choose an option based on the merits of the products or the strength of the argument.[86]

An example of opinion leaders in the social media touch point is the uprising in tourism campaigns running that will fully fund an Instagram opinion leaders travel to their country to 'gram' the whole experience. These opinion leaders are people with a large number of followers (think hundreds of thousands), and a strong influence within in Instagram community. The photos are of a real experience, so is perceived as very authentic and a real experience. This will be more persuasive in convincing people to travel to the particular country as they want to see the monument, beach, or other landmark that they have seen on Instagram.

Opinion leaders help businesses overcome a key problem in today's marketing context that is to cut through the clutter. The average consumer 20 years ago was exposed to up to 2,000 adverts a day, while in today's modern marketing platform consumers can be exposed to anywhere up to 5,000 adverts in a 24-hour period.[87] Due to the many different and new advertising outlets used in today's world and the large number of adverts present, one of the biggest struggle for a company is to stand out and differentiate themselves as not all of those 5,000 ads will be memorable, let alone noticeable.

Communication through celebrity branding[edit]

Communication has been variously defined as the passing of information, between a sender and a receiver (Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A, 2012)[4] representing the reasoning behind why celebrity endorsements of brands are so successful in this day and age. This suggests that for communication to occur, there must be some common thinking between two parties and information must be passed from one person to another (or from one group to another) (Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A, 2012).[4] Celebrities are now a common factor within people's daily lives – whether we like it or not we live in a world that has been socially influenced by celebrities.

This is exactly why celebrity endorsed products are so successful.

Media in the past 10 years has changed dramatically. Society as a whole has been completely reconstructed with the advancements in technology. Different models of communication are now used universally – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. – alongside many other traditional media (radio, print and television etc.) Technology through social media now runs the show. As observed technology is rapidly adapting, meaning communication through celebrity branding must also be updated regularly.

Models of communication are always present when marketing a product. Especially when it comes to celebrities endorsing products.

Link with communication[edit]

The link between communication and celebrity branding is that there has to be good communication and understanding between the product/company and the celebrity supporting the good. Therefore, there cannot be a bad effect due to the celebrity portraying the brand or product incorrectly because of a miscommunication and causing conflict, frustration or tension (Sabie and Androniceanu, 2012).

The celebrity endorser needs to use persuasive communication to intrigue an audience into the brand's product or service. The celebrity endorser influencing a consumer's intentions, beliefs, attitudes, motivations and behavior in connecting with the brand's product or service can do this. This type of communication can encourage a consumer's decision in purchasing the product/service.

Models of communication[edit]

  • Source Encoding
  • Buzz Marketing
  • Receiver Decoding

Models of communication source encoding

Source encoding is relevant often in celebrity branding. The sender, or source, of a communication is the person or organization that has information to share with another person or group of people. This is generally a hired spokesman, such as a celebrity, who appears in a company's advertisements (Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A, 2012).[4] Brands must ensure that they carefully choose with whom they decide to endorse their brand, as this will be the first touch point the consumer encounters and they will be communicating the brand as well as endorsing it. Because the receiver's perceptions of the source influence how the communication of the brand is received, marketers must be very careful to pick a communicator the receiver believes is knowledgeable and trustworthy. They need to be someone who they can identify and relate the product to (Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A, 2012). However, sometimes this method of communication can backfire on a brand. This can be the result of a public figure acting out of place and they are therefor viewed badly which results in the brand being viewed negatively also.

Example one

Nike unfortunately has had to learn this the hard way – with professional sports stars having a tendency to be viewed by the media negatively. Tiger Woods was the perfect example of an accurate fit for Nike golf apparel. However, as soon as the public became aware of his 'marriage issues' Nike dropped his contract for fear that people might may no longer want to buy their products. Nike knew that bad publicity would have been counterproductive on the sale of their products. Tiger Woods' fall from grace would reverberate against the wholesome image, which Nike wanted to project. Because of the advancement of social media, celebrity endorsement can be a double-edged sword. When the celebrity is at the height of popularity endorsement works well for both parties. However, when the celebrity falls from grace then the use of the celebrity is non productive – the effects are almost immediate.

Example two

A more recent example is that of Maria Sharapova, world tennis champion and highest paid female athlete, who failed a drug test at the Australian open in January 2016. She admitted the charge and the brands she was endorsing withdrew their sponsorships – Nike, TAG Heuer and Porsche (Harris & Murray Brown, 2016).[88] Nike alone has cancelled many deals with sports stars including Oscar Pistorious, Manny Pacquiao, Lance Armstrong and Ray Rice. (Harris & Murray Brown, 2016)

However successful endorsements are more common than not, for example that of George Clooney promoting Nespresso coffee. Nespresso lures international clients with 'A list' celebrity's status such as George Clooney. Because of his wide-ranging appeal and worldly charismatic identity, people see the product as highly desirable.[89]

Channel-buzz marketing[edit]

The channel is the method by which the communication travels from the source or sender to the receiver (Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A, 2012).[4] Buzz marketing comes under the channel method and is another way in which celebrities can create a 'buzz marketing' effect and get people talking about a product. Many marketers are focusing on creating viral buzz to spread the word about their brand by using online techniques (Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A, 2012).[4] Celebrities best do this as they have wide followings in the 'online world'. Celebrities create a buzz when they promote a new trend or current craze. The public listen, as they can now learn a lot more about celebrities as they follow their daily movements on social media. The public eye can gain an insight into the public figure's attitudes, values and beliefs with a simple click or tap of a screen. The public eye then mimics the actions, preference and lifestyles of their favourite celebrities. This is how the method of 'Buzz Marketing' works so well and is the reasoning behind why big corporations compete against one another to sign contracts with these public figures – they want to create the first 'buzz' in the market. "Personally relevant meanings derived from celebrity and brand associations are important as they influence consumer motivation, preference and choice (Gutman, 1982)[4] Creating a buzz is so important from a communicational marketing perspective as (Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A, 2012)[4] it shows how valuable "pass-along" benefits are from consumers talking about a buzz created around a product (Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A., 2012).

Receiver decoding-decoding

"Decoding is the process of transforming the sender's message back into thought" (Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A, 2012).[4] This explains the reasoning again of why choosing the right celebrity to endorse a product is so crucial. It is important that the company can create the product also in relation to the celebrity as the celebrity is not only a spokesman/ face of the brand but they are also a consumer of the product. "Effective communication is more likely when there is some common ground between the two parties". (Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A, 2012).[4] Because consumers humanize brands (Ambroise, Pantin-Sohler, Valette-Florence & Albert, 2014)[90] the celebrity must fit with the brand. This highlights the importance of the match up between the celebrity's image and the brand's image (Batra and Homer, 2004).[91]

Example one: Kim Kardashian promotes a lot of weight loss products as people are interested in how she loses her post-baby weight. Kim Kardashian uses her current situations and then endorses from there (Solomon, 2015[92]). Kim Kardashian and her weight issues are constantly in the media. People are more likely to take notice of what she has to say as they believe that she has personal experience and is knowledgeable about the product and has been selected for that very reason.

Example two: The All Blacks are a winning side, therefore representing 'Adidas' as a winning product. People young and old follow the All Blacks and are conscious of all things concerned with the All Blacks – they are respected and idolised. The brand's emotional involvement and its relationship with good values, sportsmanship and team morale all contribute to its overall image and success. "When brands establishing a relationship and connection to popular names in entertainment, sports, fashion, and other verticals, there is the potential to boost sales drastically, especially when the consumer believes the product or service is actually used by the celebrity him or herself" (Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A, 2012).[4] Wearing Adidas is obviously not going to make the consumer have the athletic ability of an All Black but the product is aligned with all the winning attributes of the All Black.


Touchpoints are crucial to a brand when it comes to marketing and advertising their product/service. Any point of contact where a business engages with a customer to exchange information about their good/service is considered a touchpoint. It targets the chosen market by taking advantage of the most effective channels to appeal to and entice this group to communicate their intended message. Brands need to think of the most optimal ways to get the word out about their good and the information surrounding it. Different touchpoints allow the brand to appeal to their specific market in the most direct way possible, which considers the particular targeted groups needs and wants out of accessing and receiving information about a product (Straker, K., Wrigley, C., & Rosemann, M. (2015)).[93]

In relation to celebrity branding, if a company decides they want to use a famous and well-known celebrity to endorse their campaign, they would need to carefully pick what touchpoints they use to convey their brand to their consumers.

Touchpoints are always evolving as the tastes and preferences of consumers are constantly changing and adapting to the technology and resources that are available. The traditional touchpoints that would have been relevant and effective in the 2000s could be greatly ineffective for marketing ten years later in the 2010s. The same as vital touchpoints marketers use now may have not existed a decade ago like all of the social media websites and apps. Traditional touchpoints began with radio, newspaper and television but now some of the most common touchpoints used in celebrity branding largely are through social media e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and various other social media webpages. Now with the forever changing technology, people are ditching old touchpoints for newer and faster ones leading sources like newspapers to get printed less and less every year and TV marketing to be less effective as people now can skip past advertisements missing the endorsement and the message it was trying to convey. These new touchpoints are quicker, highly accessible and easy to use for the modern day person with their portable smartphone or computer – this has created celebrity endorsements to be incredibly popular on these sites through the celebrity posting a picture or status advertising the business and their products on their personal accounts. These social media sites give celebrity branding a significant boost and immense opportunities with millions of millions of accounts, creating an audience which is virtually endless (Bradic, 2015).[4]

According to the 'source credibility model' (Hovland, Jannis, & Kelley, 1953), much research and study collated on endorser effectiveness conclude "that a celebrity generally has a greater impact on attitude change and purchase intention than a non-celebrity spokesman" (Choi, S.A.M. and Rifon, N.J. (2012).)[94] When people view these posts on the celebrity's personal social media account they therefore assume if the spokesman highly regards the good or service, this gains the consumers trust in the business and the purpose it serves.

To keep up with these changes, businesses who strategise using celebrity branding to advertise their campaigns will use the most obvious choice to reach their market. For example, if a brand is wanting to target the elderly it would make sense to put their celebrity marketing in radio or newspapers – though less used, still used by marketers to appeal to the tradition media users; whereas if they were targeting a younger market who are more social media and technology savvy then they would use websites like Instagram or Facebook to appeal to them and communicate their message.

See also[edit]

  • Influencer marketing
  • Promotional model
  • Staunton chess set (1849), possibly the first product marketed through celebrity endorsement
  • Testimonial


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Further reading[edit]

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