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Endorsement and visual complexity in food advertising on Instagram

Sony Kusumasondjaja (Department of Management, Universitas Airlangga, Surabaya, Indonesia)
Fandy Tjiptono (School of Marketing and International Business, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 4 February 2019

Issue publication date: 2 September 2019




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the differences in consumer pleasure, arousal and purchase intention when consumers encounter food advertising on Instagram using different endorsers and visual complexity levels.


An experimental design was conducted involving 180 undergraduate students from several universities in Surabaya, Indonesia. The participants had actively used Instagram for at least one year.


Food ads endorsed by a celebrity generate more pleasure and arousal than those endorsed by food experts. Food advertising using high levels of visual complexity cues generates more pleasure and arousal than less complex advertising. However, less complex food ads using food experts create greater pleasure than those endorsed by celebrities. Consumer pleasure and arousal were significant mediators of the impact of endorser type and visual complexity on consumer purchase intentions.

Practical implications

As celebrities and higher levels of visual complexity result in more favorable responses to Instagram ads, food marketers need to consider increasing visual complexity when using celebrities in advertising by adding more objects, using more colors, objects, or textures and incorporating asymmetric elements in the advertisements.


This is one of the few studies comparing the effectiveness of celebrity and expert endorsers in Instagram advertising. Also, this research extends the existing knowledge about visual complexity in the context of social media advertising.



Kusumasondjaja, S. and Tjiptono, F. (2019), "Endorsement and visual complexity in food advertising on Instagram", Internet Research, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 659-687.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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