Gary Lineker has been fronting adverts for Walkers crisps since 1995. This strategy uses two different altercasts, most prominently the high-status admirer altercast, which can explain why celebrity product endorsements are so effective. People tend to admire high status people and often seek to be like them and gain their approval. Lefkowitz, Blake & Mouton (1955) demonstrated that people were more likely to jaywalk if someone in a suit did it, compared to someone dressed in denim. The person wearing a suit was perceived as having a higher status, and thus participants were more likely to copy them than someone who seemed ‘normal’. People who admire Gary Lineker will want to be like him, and will therefore be more likely to purchase a product he endorses.
Similarity altercasting (also known as the “Just Plain Folks” technique) may also be working in this ad campaign, as football fans watching the adverts will perceive shared interests with Gary Lineker, and therefore feel a greater sense of similarity to him when watching adverts, making the product more appealing to them. Research shows that even tiny similarities can have an effect: Stotland, Zander & Natsoulas (1961) found that sharing music interests increased agreements with a confederate in rating nonsense syllables.
Lefkowitz, M., Blake, R. R., & Mouton, J. S. (1955). Status factors in pedestrian violation of traffic signals. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 51(3), 704.
Stotland, E., Zander, A., & Natsoulas, T. (1961). Generalization of interpersonal similarity. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 62(2), 250.