Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Celebrity endorsements in advertising

Using a celebrity in order to promote a product or an entire brand is not unheard of. In fact, it has been estimated that celebrity endorsements have been utilised in 25% of American advertisements (Shimp, 2000). Celebrity endorsement is clearly a popular technique, shown to produce more favourable advertisement ratings (Dean and Biswas, 2001), and in turn increasing sales for the companies choosing to make use of this method (Erdogan, 2001). Perhaps this is down to their physical attractiveness (Chaiken, 1979), or their familiarity with the audience (Buhr and Simpson, 1987), all stemming from the liking technique put forward by Cialdini (2009). 

Early research conducted by Aktin and Block (1983) looked to demonstrate the effectiveness of celebrity endorsers. This study drew focus on the impact of celebrity endorsements in alcohol advertising and how this influenced both younger and older audiences. The source of the endorsement was manipulated between celebrity and non celebrity characters. Participants were exposed to either one of these endorsed advertisements and subsequently asked to evaluate the advertisements over an 18 item questionnaire on a scale of 0 to 10. 

 Figure 1: Mean ratings given for both celebrity and non-celebrity conditions.

Figure 1 demonstrates that out of these 18 items measuring 18 scales, the mean score for 15 of these scored higher for celebrity source as opposed to the non-celebrity source. Significant differences in favour of the celebrity endorser were found for how strong, interesting, effective and important the advertisement was perceived to be. In regards to the character endorsing the product, celebrities were scored signficiantly higher on scales of trustworthiness, attractiveness and competency than the non-celebrity endorsers. The product image was also rated on a scale of 1 to 7. In the celebrity endorser condition, the product image was found to be significantly more pleasant, enjoyable and superior. 

A range of studies have found similar findings to those of Atkin and Block (1983)(Goldsmith, Lafferty & Newell, 2000; Tripp, Jenson & Carlson, 1994), therefore I think celebrity endorsements will be around for many years to come. 


Atkin, C. and Block, M. (1983). Effectiveness of celebrity endorsers. Journal of Advertising Research, 23, 57-61. 

Buhr, T. A and Simpson, T. L. (1987). Celebrity endorsers' expertise and perceptions of attractiveness, likeability and familiarity. Psychology Reports, 60, 1307-1309. 

Chaiken, S. (1979). Communicator physical attractiveness and persuasion. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 37, 1387-1389.

Cialdini, R. B. (2009). Influence: Science and Practice. (5th ed). Boston: Pearson. 

Dean, D. H. and Biswas, A. (2001). Third party organisation endorsement of products: an advertising cue affecting consumer prepurchase evaluation of goods and services. 
Journal of Advertising Research, 30, 41-57

Erdogan, B. Z. (2001). Selecting celebrity endorsers: the practitioner's perspective. Journal of Advertising Research, 41, 39-48.

Goldsmith, R., Lafferty, B. & Newell, S. (2000) The impact of corporate credibility
and celebrity credibility on consumer reaction to advertisements and brands.
Journal of Advertising Research, 29, 43–54

Shimp, T. A. (2000). Advertising Promotion: Supplemental Aspects of Integrated Marketing Communications, 5th ed., Dryden Press, Fort Worth, TX.

Tripp, C., Jenson, T. & Carlson, L. (1994) The effect of multiple product
endorsements by celebrities on consumers’ attitudes and intentions. Journal of Consumer Research, 20, 535–547

Ravi Khera


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