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Spot the difference: examining facial characteristics that enhance spokesperson effectiveness

Jasmina Ilicic (Monash Business School, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia)
Stacey M. Baxter (Newcastle Business School, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia)
Alicia Kulczynski (Newcastle Business School, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 24 January 2018

Issue publication date: 20 February 2018

1016

Abstract

Purpose

This research aims to examine the effect of spokesperson facial symmetry on advertisement attitude, brand attitude and purchase intention and the mediating role of source authenticity on attitudinal and behavioral judgments.

Design/methodology/approach

Two studies were undertaken. Study 1 examined the effect of facial symmetry on source authenticity and endorsement effectiveness. Study 2 investigated the influence of the authentic facial cues of freckles and moles on source authenticity and advertisement attitude, brand attitude and purchase intention.

Findings

Findings indicate that source authenticity is the mechanism that explains attitudinal and behavioral judgments toward advertisements featuring asymmetrical spokespeople. The phenomenon observed is due to a proposed source authenticity overgeneralization effect, whereby spokespeople with asymmetrical faces are perceived as more genuine and real which, subsequently, results in more positive attitude toward the advertisement, attitude toward the brand and greater purchase intention than advertisements featuring spokespeople with symmetrical faces. The addition of authentic (biological) facial cues (i.e. freckles and moles) on spokespeople with a symmetrical facial structure, however, can heighten perceptions of source authenticity and the manifestation of the source authenticity overgeneralization effect.

Research limitations/implications

This research has implications for marketing managers in the selection and depiction of spokespeople in their advertisements. However, this research is limited, as it only examines the facial feature characteristics of symmetry, freckles, and moles.

Originality/value

This research shows that an asymmetrical facial structure can positively influence source, attitudinal and behavioral judgments. This research also identifies that although symmetrical facial structures dilute source- and endorsement-based judgments, the addition of authentic facial cues, freckles and moles, can reverse the negative effects and enhance perceptions of source authenticity, attitude toward the advertisement, attitude toward the brand and purchase intentions.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank the Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle, for sponsoring this study.

Citation

Ilicic, J., Baxter, S.M. and Kulczynski, A. (2018), "Spot the difference: examining facial characteristics that enhance spokesperson effectiveness", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 52 No. 1/2, pp. 348-366. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-03-2017-0226

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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