Main Article Content
The purpose of this study is to observe the impact of celebrity endorser authenticity and product congruence on brand experience, brand evaluations and celebrity evaluations. Celebrity authenticity is defined by the celebrity’s ability to demonstrate rarity and stability, or their ability to maintain unique characteristics and talents consistently across time and situation. Congruence is how well a celebrity endorser matches with the brand’s product or product category. Previous studies suggest that both of these constructs independently enhance brand evaluations, such as brand loyalty, positive word of mouth, and emotional connection. In this case, authenticity and congruence were observed together. To test whether authenticity and congruence jointly impacted brand experience, brand evaluations, and celebrity evaluations, an experiment was conducted. In order to ensure internal validity, known brands and known celebrities were not used. Instead, a vignette approach was utilized. I found that, overall, authentic and congruent endorsement independently produced the strongest brand experience and the strongest evaluations. Authenticity and congruence together did not produce a synergistic effect but independently, when a celebrity endorser was authentic versus not authentic, evaluations were better and when a celebrity was congruent versus incongruent, evaluations were better. Therefore, in conclusion, if brand managers are looking to enhance brand experience or brand evaluations through celebrity endorsement, it is best to hire a celebrity that is authentic and a celebrity that is aligned with the brand’s product or product category. Additionally, if looking to enhance the evaluations of their currently contracted celebrity endorsers, perceived authenticity significantly impacts these evaluations. An overarching insight this study demonstrates, however, is that in an age of excess use of technology and social media where information is more readily available, it is important for companies to look beyond just profession when determining the best endorsement candidate to hire.
Comments from Mentors
“It was my sincere pleasure and honor to work with Catie on her thesis. From the start, it was obvious to me that she was going to complete a stellar project on involving celebrity authenticity, endorsements, and brand assessments. She chose an ambitious topic to study, designed a graduate-level experiment, and effectively analyzed the results to provide meaningful implications to not only marketing theory but also marketing practice. Her enthusiasm and unwavering commitment for the research, and the process itself, was evident throughout, leading to a clear demonstration of proficiency. Catie rose to every challenge she faced along the way. For example, to test some of her research questions, three-way interactions—something she had not encountered in any class before—were necessary. She quickly learned the analytical technique needed and adeptly interpreted those complex interactions. It was impressive to watch her explain her findings like a ‘pro’! As I expected, Catie did in fact shatter all of my expectations. And she did so with determination, thoughtfulness, and an unflappable positive attitude.”