March 2018 (Vol. 58, Issue 1)
What Do We Know about Celebrity Endorsement in Advertising?
“Corporations have realized for some time that celebrity endorsers can enhance advertisement credibility and liking as well as brand image, awareness, and purchase behavior,” writes Editor-in-Chief John B. Ford. “Celebrities have built-in images and followers, both powerful influencers to potential consumers.” Ford summarizes the current issue’s four themed articles on this topic and devotes the rest of the editorial to his annual thanks to the Journal‘s Ad Hoc reviewers—dozens of experts from around the world whose commitment to evaluating paper submissions in blind peer-review is invaluable
Why We Need More Replication Studies to Keep Empirical Knowledge in Check: How Reliable Is Truth in Advertising Research?
Replication studies, rarely published in advertising research journals, often are viewed as having little to offer beyond what already is known. Yet scholars for decades have warned that without replication, the credibility of any research findings is questionable. Reviving these concerns, Marla B. Royne, Great Oaks Foundation Professor of Marketing and Chair at the University of Memphis Fogelman College of Business and Economics, urges academics and practitioners to follow with caution the resulting advice from any study lacking replication. “‘If replication is revealed to not be an integral component of the advertising research process,’” she quotes from an early study, “‘what is known about the process and effects of advertising is based on unverified evidence’ (Reid et al., 1981).” Replications, Royne asserts, offer a number of ways to enhance and develop our understanding and appreciation of topics and get closer to the ever-elusive “truth.” As part of a solution, she calls for advertising research journals to:
- Consider responding to recent calls for transparency of data and statistical analysis of scientific research to allow other researchers to replicate their work more easily;
- This might include the open sharing of research instruments and datasets;
- Publish replication studies even when they reproduce the same findings they set out to test.
Are You Targeting Too Much? Effective Marketing Strategies for Brands
Brands increasingly are being drawn to the immediate benefits of targeted advertising. But at what long-term cost? asks Gian Fulgoni, Cofounder and Chairman Emeritus of comScore, Inc. “Ultimately, there are better ways to use targeting data today, whereby brands can drive both short-term performance and long-term outcomes,” Fulgoni writes. “These objectives need not be mutually exclusive, and brands must get smarter at how they deploy available targeting data if they expect to drive both results simultaneously.” Some brands, like Procter & Gamble and Unilever, already have recognized the perils of targeting, Fulgoni notes, and longer term, mass-market brands need to pay attention to the metrics of brand equity such as awareness and favorability: “Absent availability and affinity in the mind of enough consumers, brands will struggle to grow and maximize profits. Narrow targeting can walk a brand right into this trap.” Fulgoni suggests ways brands can both execute against marketing objectives in the cross-platform environment and finely targeting their audiences:
- Plan media that overlap broad and narrow targets
- Activate unexposed audiences on television via digital
- Measure unduplicated reach across platforms for broad and narrow audience targets
- Measure brand lift and sales lift for the same campaigns
Mobile Technology and Its Impact on the Consumer Decision-Making Journey: How Brands Can Capture the “Ubiquitous” Moment of Truth
Laurent Muzellec, Associate Professor of Marketing, Trinity Business School (Trinity College Dublin) and Eamonn O’Raghallaigh, CEO Digital Strategy Consultants, Trinity Business School urge brands that have not done so to take advantage of a consumer path to purchase that has been radically altered by mobile technology. One way is to create an application (app) with the goal of covering what the authors describe as an expanded consumer journey that includes not just the three “moments of truth” (MOTs) dubbed by P&G in the 2000s, and fourth Zero MOT later coined by Google. Now, with the “widespread penetration of mobile smartphone technology” Muzellec and O’Raghallaigh claim to coin yet another: “ubiquitous” MOT (UMOT). “Mobile technologies allow consumers to perform most or all of the different stages simultaneously or within seconds” in contrast to “several days” between the consumer being first exposed to an advertisement and making a purchase. Creating an app (application) that can be adopted widely by consumers is essential for traditional companies to “bypass the new digital intermediaries.” Capitalizing on the UMOT, the authors write, enables companies like Starbucks to
- “detect that the customer is near the shop or predict his or her arrival on the basis of trends;
- send a push notification to the customer’s smartphone with a recommendation for a new blend of coffee roast he or she should try (stimulus);
- offer the customer an opportunity to review the recommendation and find out more information (ZMOT);
- select to purchase the item (FMOT);
- collect and experience his or her coffee in minutes (SMOT);
- share his or her experience of the new blend on social media (TMOT).”
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENT IN ADVERTISING
Enhancing Brand Credibility via Celebrity Endorsement: Trustworthiness Trumps Attractiveness and Expertise
The right choice for an endorser can be an important decision for an advertiser. In this study, Stephen Wang, Professor of Marketing at National Taiwan Ocean University, and Angeline Close Scheinbaum, Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, analyzed the airline industry and examined source-credibility theory and its impact on brand performance for celebrity endorsements. Using data from 637 travelers, they assessed the role of trustworthiness, attractiveness, and endorser expertise on brand credibility and preference. The authors found that much depends on the involvement of the consumer with the industry involved. They discovered that “trustworthiness trumps beauty attractiveness and credibility when it comes to celebrity-endorsement source characteristics in the airline industry-where trust is especially paramount.” Among their practical suggestions:
- Advertisers using celebrity endorsement should feature an attractive celebrity who is perceived to be trustworthy to best influence both their low- and their high-involvement consumer base.
- In a global industry such as airlines, such a celebrity should be internationally recognized.
The Dual Entertainment Theory in Celebrity Endorsements: The Role of Celebrity Worship and Profession
Celebrities will have different levels of connection with those who follow them. This can affect the reaction of consumers to the endorsement relationship, and that, in turn, may depend on the profession of the celebrity. In India and in the U.K., “Different motives are instrumental in the celebrity effect on celebrity worshippers versus nonworshippers,” Subhadip Roy, Associate Professor of Marketing, Indian Institute of Management Udaipur, and Aditya Shankar Mishra, Associate Professor of Marketing IBS Hyderabad, write. Their research demonstrated that “celebrities from more glamorous professions, such as film actors, are perceived differently than celebrities from performance-oriented professions, such as sports.” Among their practical findings:
- Managers need to segregate consumers on the basis of their degree of affinity toward or worship of a celebrity before employing a marketing or communication strategy.
- Consumers at different levels of worship may display different motives even when both lead to positive attitude toward the endorsement.
- In this study, playful motives were “more relevant for celebrities from a glamorous profession, whereas aspirational motives became more relevant for celebrities related to a performance-related profession.”
- The celebrity profession moderates the effectiveness of the endorsement; more emphasis is needed on the celebrity’s profession, along with careful selection of celebrities for enhancing endorsement effectiveness.
- Brands should be wary of the potential negative effects of celebrity endorsement, such as personal scandals (think Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Martha Stewart and O. J. Simpson). Offsetting negativity with more positive attitude on the part of sponsors may offer a means to improve brand image.
How a Smile Can Make a Difference: Enhancing the Persuasive Appeal of Celebrity Endorsers – Boosting Consumer Perceptions of Celebrity Genuineness through the Use of a “Duchenne Smile” in Advertising
A team of Australian researchers studied the impact of a smile perceived to be genuine (a Duchenne Smile) and a pre-existing negative attitude toward a celebrity. Jasmina Ilicic, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Monash University, Melbourne; Alicia Kulczynski, Lecturer in Marketing and Stacey Baxter, Senior Lecturer in Marketing both at The University of Newcastle analyzed 340 respondents and found that “altering the depiction of the celebrity in advertising can influence consumer perceptions of the celebrity’s genuineness.” They offer that consumers will “perceive a celebrity to be less genuine when they:
- have a negative attitude toward the celebrity, and
- are exposed to a celebrity displaying a non-Duchenne (disingenuine) smile.”
On the other hand, “when a celebrity is featured in an advertisement displaying a Duchenne (genuine) smile, consumers will
- perceive the celebrity to be more genuine, and
- report more favorable attitudes toward the advertisement and greater purchase intention.”
The authors also suggest “that even if things go astray and celebrities fall from grace, careful execution of advertising can counteract negative associations held with a celebrity, meaning that premature dumping and replacement of celebrity endorsers may be avoided.” But they acknowledge that more research is needed:
- The study focused on print advertising; perceptions of source genuineness may differ in evaluating these effects across television and digital advertising.
- Researchers should experiment beyond static facial expressions to “fluidity of smiles portrayed through other media.”
The Market Value of Celebrity Endorsement: Evidence from India Reveals Factors that Can Influence Stock-Market Returns
One way to assess the quality of celebrity endorsements is to examine the impact of the endorsement on stock-market returns. In their research, Arpita Agnihotri, Assistant Professor, Northland College (Ashland, WI) and Saurabh Bhattacharya, Lecturer in Marketing Newcastle University Business School examined market value of publicly traded companies and endorsement announcements and found that abnormal stock returns were possible under certain types of circumstances in the Indian market. Their results demonstrate that:
- “Announcement specificity and celebrity reputation can increase the abnormal returns.” This is due to the fact that “more specific and detailed financial information is valued more highly by investors.”
- “Niche celebrities create more abnormal returns than mainstream celebrities.” These individuals are not as overexposed, they reflect an association with a niche environment, and they are less expensive.
- “Although managers invest heavily in celebrity endorsement and try to beat the competition by catching more of the customers’ attention, they need to realize that heavy investment in endorsements may lose value if a celebrity over endorses a brand.”