We explore how marketers can manage brand meaning through the use of celebrity endorsements. We theorize that consumers look to celebrity endorsements for brand symbolism, which they appropriate to construct and communicate their self-concepts by forming self-brand connections (SBC).
This research employs an experimental paradigm, with two empirical studies examining whether marketers can create meaning for their brands through the use of celebrity endorsements.
Study 1 finds that celebrity endorsement enhances SBC when consumers aspire to be like the celebrity, but harms them when consumers do not; furthermore, this effect is more pronounced when the brand image is congruent with the celebrity’s image. The effect is further moderated by the degree to which a brand communicates something about the user, with more symbolic brands having stronger effects than less symbolic brands. Study 2 finds that the effect of celebrity endorsement on SBC is augmented when consumers’ self-esteem is threatened. Consumers self-enhance by building connections to celebrities with favorable images or distancing themselves from those with unfavorable images.
These findings can help marketers’ decisions regarding when and whom to use as a celebrity endorsers by taking into account how consumers use meaning appropriated from celebrities when constructing the self.
Escalas, J.E. and Bettman, J.R. (2015), "Managing Brand Meaning through Celebrity Endorsement", Brand Meaning Management (Review of Marketing Research, Vol. 12), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 29-52. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1548-643520150000012002
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