Sometimes a celebrity holding a negative public image is the best product endorser

Maria Sääksjärvi, Katarina Hellén, George Balabanis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine women’s reactions to celebrity endorsers holding positive and negative public images and the consequences for purchase intentions of the endorsed
product.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper draws on the social comparison literature and applies the theory of upward and downward comparisons to the celebrity endorsement context.
Findings – Study 1 shows that exposure to celebrities holding a positive public image decrease consumers’ temporal self-esteem, while celebrities holding a negative public image increase temporal self-esteem. Study 2 suggests that this change in self-esteem transfers to the product depending upon the type of social comparison focus (similarity vs dissimilarity) which people have. Study 3 shows that for consumers low in true self-esteem, i.e. self-esteem based upon a stable foundation, celebrities holding a positive public image decrease purchase intentions. For consumers high in true self-esteem, there was no difference between exposure to celebrities holding a positive and a negative public image for purchase intentions. Study 4 focused on replicating the results found in Studies 1-3 in the context of an achievement celebrity (as opposed to a regular celebrity). The findings in Study 4 provide further support for the results of Studies 1 and 3, and identify expert celebrities as a boundary condition for the
effects found in Study 2.
Practical implications – The results provide evidence suggesting that celebrities holding a negative
public image can be used as celebrity endorsers in product categories in which it can be considered
helpful to protect women’s self-esteem, such as beauty products or self-expressive products.
Originality/value – This research contributes to the literature on celebrity endorsement by adding a
boundary condition for the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement. According to the results, choosing a
positive celebrity can, for some groups, have negative effects on purchase intensions and that a negative
celebrity might be the safer choice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-441
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Volume50
Issue number3/4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Brand evaluation
  • Purchase intention
  • Self-esteem
  • Celebrity endorsement

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