1 Celebrity Endorsement
Over 30 years ago Nike signed a huge endorsement contract with Michael Jordan. A deal that is still going on and turned into a lifetime contract. As of now Jordan is gaining more than 60mio US$ every year out of this collaboration (Totalsportek, 2015).
This example proves just how much money is spent on celebrity endorsement every year. This also seems to be valid since celebrity endorsement is very valuable as it has the power to make marketing messages stick out more in today’s cluttered marketing environment (Meenaghan, 2001). Within this context athlete endorsement is amongst the most popular forms of celebrity endorsement (Bush, Martin and Bush, 2004).
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In order to investigate this, the determinants of effective celebrity endorsement will be defined first before deeper evaluating certain events that may cause problems during the endorsement period. It shall be evaluated how strong those incidences (scandals, on-field performance, injuries) can affect the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement to ultimately answer if there might be situations where companies should not use it.
2 Determinants of Celebrity Endorsement Effectiveness
2.1 Endorsement Processing
2.1.1 Meaning Transfer model and image congruence
Effective celebrity endorsement relies on the consumer’s transfer of positive associations (meanings) with the endorser towards the endorsed brand (e.g. Till, 2001). Due to this, the meaning of the celebrity ultimately affects the meaning of the brand (Walker, Langmeyer and Langmeyer, 1992). Since this meaning transfer is the ultimate aim it is of crucial importance that the brand chooses an endorser, who carries the same meanings that the brand wants to associate itself with.
In order to further explain this meaning transfer, Grant McCracken (1989) established a general “process of meaning transfer during celebrity endorsement”. In course of his research he divided the process into three distinct steps: During the first step the celebrity (in this case athlete) acquires his “meaning” (image) through his/her on-field performance as well as off-field behaviour. The second step happens when the consumer transfers this meaning towards the brand the athlete endorses. The last step, which is certainly the most important one in order to evaluate endorsement effectiveness, is when this new brand image is transferred into actual consumer behaviour, as e.g. the purchase of a specific product.
Additionally it can be stated, that this meaning transfer is higher when there is a certain image congruence between endorser and brand (Biswas, Hussain and O’Donnel, 2009). This effect can be seen as a logical consequence of the fact that there are more connective notes if the brand and the endorser have a lot in common, which is leading to a higher associative strength (Till and Busler, 2000). In conclusion, the endorser and the brand should have as many attributes / images in common as possible. With this in mind it is highly important to evaluate the so called match–up theory in connection with celebrity endorsement.
2.1.2 Match–up theory
The match-up theory, used by many researches (e.g. Agrawal and Kamkura, 1995; Kahle and Homer, 1985), suggests that celebrity endorsement is more effective if the endorser fits well to the brand he/she endorses. This increased effectiveness develops from the fact that a high congruence makes the endorser more believable (Kamins and Gupta, 1994) and therefore ultimately influences the attitude towards the ad and the brand (Kamins, 1990; Misra and Beatty, 1990). Additionally to the positive attitude change researchers were able to prove a positive...