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Social media influencers and transgressive celebrity endorsement in consumption community contexts

Hayley Cocker (Department of Marketing, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK)
Rebecca Mardon (Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Kate L. Daunt (Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 8 March 2021

Issue publication date: 13 July 2021

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1381

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to elucidate instances whereby celebrity endorsements by social media influencers (SMIs) embedded within online consumption communities are perceived as transgressive by their fellow community members. In doing so, this study provides insights into the new challenges and considerations that such community contexts present for celebrity endorsement.

Design/methodology/approach

The research team conducted a longitudinal, netnographic study of the YouTube beauty community, involving an initial phase of netnographic immersion followed by an investigative netnography that examined community members’ response to celebrity endorsements by 12 SMIs within the community.

Findings

This study identifies five recurring celebrity endorsement transgressions, each violating an established moral responsibility within the community. The paper explores how community members attribute responsibility for transgressive endorsements and identifies consequences for both the SMI and the endorsed brand.

Research limitations/implications

This study focused on a single consumption community, developing a deep understanding of the distinct moral responsibilities that shape the reception of celebrity endorsements within this context.

Practical implications

The paper presents managerial recommendations that will aid both SMIs and brands in implementing celebrity endorsements that avoid communal perceptions of transgression.

Originality/value

The analysis extends prior study on celebrity endorsement by SMIs by explaining when and why SMI endorsements are likely to be perceived as transgressive by the community and providing new insights into community member responses to transgressive SMI endorsements. It also extends wider theories of celebrity endorsement by highlighting the influence of consumption community contexts upon endorsement reception and examining consumer responses to celebrity endorsements perceived as transgressive in and of themselves.

Keywords

Citation

Cocker, H., Mardon, R. and Daunt, K.L. (2021), "Social media influencers and transgressive celebrity endorsement in consumption community contexts", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 55 No. 7, pp. 1841-1872. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-07-2019-0567

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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