Curtis P. Haugtvedt, Ph.D
21 February 2014
An advertising agency creating a commercial or advertising campaign tries to come up with a creative and persuasive message that consumers will respond to. Often these advertisements feature a celebrity endorser that the agency has decided fits the best with the product and/or the message that they are trying ‘sell’ to the consumer. But do they just simply think off of the top of their head who they believe will be the best fit for the campaign? Sometimes probably yes. But there are also models used to determine the appropriate celebrity for the job, and that is what my paper is going to be researching. “One of the most important variables that seems to influence how persuasive a celebrity will be in any advertising is the appropriateness of the celebrity for endorsing a particular brand and product. This appropriateness may be defined as the natural linkage between personality and product category, regardless of how the celebrity is actually used in the ad” (Jones). There are many different models used to determine which celebrity is the best fit for an advertising campaign, such as the source attractiveness model, the source credibility model, the product matchup hypothesis, the co-activation theory, the cognitive source model (elaboration likelihood model), and the cultural meaning transfer. The next sections of my paper will be discussing these models in greater detail.
First of the models I want to discuss are some that have been around for quite some time and were the bases of all of the models to follow. This model, the source model, is where marketers will rate celebrities on many different attributes when trying to place them into a commercial and “early attempts at understanding the influence of any source in the persuasive context suggested that an attractive, trustworthy, likable, or credible source facilitates the message-learning and acceptance process” (Jones). It was believed that you needed to determine in what context you want your advertisement to show and pick a celebrity that would align with this image. “...three factors contribute to the effectiveness of message. These are familiarity of an endorser, similarity of an endorser and liking of an endorser. Similarity can be defined as the extent to which the receiver (customer) finds resemblance between itself and the source (endorser). Familiarity refers to that how much knowledge the receiver (customer) posses about the source (endorser) And likability is the affection the receiver (customer) develops towards source (endorser) because of the physical attractiveness of the endorser” (Ahmed). That said, it seems as though likability relies a great deal on how attractive the celebrity is; I would say that familiarity related to trustworthiness, in that when you know someone well or have knowledge about them, then you are more likely to trust that said person.
Going beyond just physical appearance for how you perceive someone, you also may view someone as credible. This person does not necessarily need to be a celebrity, but maybe someone who is well known for this certain area of expertise, or perhaps as long as the advertisement states the person’s credentials, you are more apt to believing what the person is selling to you. Being credible “holds that the effectiveness of a message is based on the perceived level of expertise and trustworthiness the customers have in an endorser...Expertise can be defined as the extent to which the endorser (communicator) is perceived to be knowledgable, skillful and experienced” (Ahmed). I believe that attractiveness identifies more with peripheral cues, while credibility aligns more with central processing cues. When someone is viewed as attractive, you may be more interested in the advertisement just due to your sense of sight and emotional cues, whereas when someone is credible, you are...
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