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Notes present short pieces which are research-based, experience-based, or idea-based.

Celebrity Endorsers and Adolescents:
A Study of Gender Influences
Prashant Mishra, Upinder Dhar, Saifuddin Raotiwala

Introduction
The use of celebrity endorser as the source for a
communication message has increased dramatically in
the past few years. Celebrities have been used to
promote everything from sports drinks to digital mobile
phones and the use of communication medium seems
endless. Endorsers are used in broadcast media, both
television and radio, print media, and even outdoor
billboard advertising, and their effectiveness in each has
As proliferation of the media was taking Indian been tested. The value of celebrity endorsements has
households in its stride, marketers were quick to been recognized worldwide. In India too, it has become
grab the opportunities presented by this pheno- one of the most readily accepted practices. Firms such
menon. A significant transformation which be- as Hindustan Lever (Lux), Smithkline Beecham, and
came evident was the increased visibility of Action Shoes have been using celebrity endorsers for
celebrities such as movie stars, sports persons, long. The recent spate of Pepsi and Coke advertisements
and others. In such a scenario, the impact of using celebrities from tinsel world is an evidence of
celebrity endorsers on consumers' attitudes to the ever growing popularity of using celebrity as a
product evaluations and purchase is expected to spokesperson or endorser in marketing communication.
change. This paper attempts to explore the According to an international estimate, almost 10 per
influence of gender on consumers' perception cent of all advertising expenditure is being spent to pay
about male and female celebrity endorsers' ef- the endorser (Agrawal and Kamakura, 1995). It has also
fectiveness on three dimensions, i.e., attractive- been established that the use of celebrity endorser is
ness, trustworthiness, and expertise. The findings , not limited to any particular industry. Companies using
of the study are discussed to draw implications celebrity endorsers cross all industry categories.
for berth practitioners as well as researchers. One of the major factors for consideration by
organizations while selecting celebrity endorsers is
Praslumt Miskra is a member of the faculty in the Marketing the credibility and likeability of that particular
at At Nitma Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. endorser. It has been reported that a celebrity who
pmiskra7374@hotmail.com endorses more than one product is less effective.
r Dhar is the Director of the Prestige Institute of Tripp, Jensen and Carlson (1994) argued that the
Management and Research, Indore. number of products a celebrity endorses negatively
influences the consumers' perceptions of endorsers'
Raotiwala is an Executive with the DDE-ORG credibility and likeability, as well as attitude towards
Systems at Baroda. the advertisement. A person who is involved in
communicating the marketing message either in
direct or indirect manner is known as the source
(Belch and Belch, 1995). This process of social
influence results in an individual adopting the attitude
advocated by the communicator: compliance, iden-
tification, and internalization (Kamins, 1990) and this
is what gives a source its influence. Compliant relates

Vol. 26, No. 4, October-December 2001 59 Vikalpa
to special acceptance and approval and therefore not It is widely believed that celebrity endorsers
relevant in non-personal communication. It has been bring the benefit of their symbolic images (i.e., their
argued that celebrity endorsements are expensive for personal meaning) to the products and services to
firms and therefore selection process needs to be which they lend their name and person. Specifically,
taken into consideration carefully. the cultural meaning that resides within a particular
celebrity endorser is passed o$ to the product or
Research studies comparing the impact of ad- service being endorsed (McCracken, 1989; Langmeyer
vertisements with and without celebrity endorsers and Walker, 1991; Burroughs, Hooten and Knowles,
have found that those featuring celebrities were rated 1994). Indeed, prototypical bonding is the term used
more positively. This was especially true among to describe the process of associating a spokesperson's
teenagers who were more likely to project the attributes, traits, and values with a particular service
celebrity's credibility to the advertising message and or product (Lautman, 1991). Results of a survey of
the endorsed product (Atkin and Block, 1983). advertising executives indicated celebrity credibility,
Expertise and trustworthiness have been identified celebrity and audience match up, celebrity and brand
as the most significant indicators of source credibility match up, celebrity attractiveness, and miscellaneous
of the communicator (Homer and Lynn, 1990). considerations as major considerations in the selec-
Though some other researchers have included physi- tion of celebrity (Miciak and Shanklin, 1994). A
cal attractiveness also in the analysis, to their fol- celebrity's trustworthiness and expertise jointly re-
lowers and to much of the general public, celebrities ferred to as credibility is the most important reason
represent an idealization of life that most people for selecting a celebrity endorser. People who are
imagine that they would love to live. Advertisers trustworthy and are perceived as knowledgeable on
spend enormous sums of money to have celebrities a particular issue, such as brand's effectiveness, are
promote their products, with the assumption that best able to convince others to undertake a course
reading or viewing audience will react positively to of action. On the other hand, attractiveness of the
the celebrity association with their product (Scott, celebrity is seen as a combination of a number of
1091). Of all the benefits that a celebrity might factors such as friendliness, likeability, physique, and
contribute to a firm's advertising programme - fame, occupation as some of the more important dimen-
talent, credibility, or charisma, celebrity credibility sions of the attractiveness concept. The celebrity-
with the consumer audience is the most important. audience match and celebrity-brand match is seen
Celebrity credibility is understood as the audiences' by executives as being greater in importance as
perception of both the celebrity's expertise - how compared to attractiveness. A number of other
much the celebrity knows about the product area, researches have demonstrated that credibility and
and trustworthiness - how honest is the celebrity attractiveness are the two basic attributes contributing
about the product (Ohanian,1991). to an endorser's effectiveness as each of them involves
Television stars, movie actors, and famous sports a different mechanism by which the endorser affects
persons are widely used in magazine advertisements, consumer attitude and behaviour (Kelman, 1961;
radio spots, and television commercials to endorse O'Keefe, 1990).
products. By definition, a celebrity is a personality Fundamentally, credibility denotes the tendency
(actor, entertainer or sports person) who is known to believe or trust someone. When an information
to the public for his or her accomplishments in the source like endorser is perceived as being credible,
areas other than the product class endorsed (Fried- audience attitudes are changed. This change occurs
man and Friedman, 1979). According to an estimate through a psychological process called internaliza-
in the US, as many as one fourth of all commercials tion, where the receiver accepts the endorsers'
employ celebrity endorsement (Spielman, 1987; Miciak position on an issue as his or her own. An internalized
and Shanklin, 1994). Advertisers and agencies are attitude tends to be maintained even if the source
willing to pay enormous sum to those celebrities who of the message is forgotten or if the source switches
are liked and respected by target audiences and who to a different position (Petty, Ostrom and Brock,
will favourably influence consumers' attitudes and 1981). Credibility consists of two important properties
behaviour towards the endorsed product. Such ex- of the endorsers, i.e., expertise and trustworthiness.
pectations are not oyer ambitious as it has been found Expertise refers to knowledge, experience or skills
that consumers' attitudes and perceptions of quality possessed by an endorser. It is a perceived rather
axe enhanced when celebrities endorse products than an absolute phenomenon. On the other hand,
(Fireworks and Friedman, 1987). trustworthiness refers to honesty, integrity, and

Vol.,No 4 October-December 2001 60 Vikalpa.
believability of a source. While expertise and was aimed at filling the gap in knowledge in the
trustworthiness are not mutually exclusive, a particu- domain of consumer psychology concerning gender
lar endorser is often perceived as highly trustworthy influences on celebrity endorsers' effectiveness.
but not particularly an expert. An endorser's trust- The survey approach was used to collect data front
worthiness depends primarily on the audiences' the respondents to explore the influence of gender
perceptions of his or her endorsement motivations. and adolescence on the perception about celebrity
Earlier, researches with ethnic minorities have re- endorsers. A quasi-experimental design was used
vealed that when a spokesperson matches the audi- to analyse the data obtained through survey.
ences* ethnicity, the spokesperson's trustworthiness The Sample
is enhanced, which in turn promotes more favourable
attitude towards the advertised brand (Deshpande A random sample of 200 subjects was selected
and Stayman, 1994). from the cities of Indore, Ujjain, Dewas, Jabalpur,
Raipur, Bhilai, and Bhopal. The final sample
The findings of an experimental test of various consisted of equal number of male and female
magazine advertisements for two products, rachet set adolescents. The average age of the sample was 16
and body oil, had revealed that the seductive model/ years for male adolescents (N=100) and 15 years
body oil Combination was perceived most favourably for female adolescents. The subjects were chosen
by all the respondents, whereas the nude model/ from prominent English medium higher secondary
body Oil combination was perceived as the least schools.
appealing advertisement. More importantly, females
too regarded the nude model/rachet set as least The Tools
appealing (Peterson and Kerin, 1977). According to For data collection, a standardized scale developed by
die meaning transfer model proposed by McCracken Ohnian (1991) was used to measure celebrity endorser
(1989), the brands benefit from associations with effectiveness on three dimensions: attractiveness, trust-
endorsers because they acquire or possess particular worthiness, and expertise. The cumulative score of the
configurations of cultural meanings that cannot be scale indicated overall effectiveness. The reliability as
found elsewhere. Thus, endorsers are expected to measured by the authors of the scale was .reported to be
enhance advertising readership or viewership or high. The scale was administered to the subjects after
listener ship and induce positive attitudinal change developing rapport with them. The purpose of the study
towards a company and its products and the per- was not disclosed in clear terms. However, the time to
sonality characteristics of the endorser can get as- respond was left to the subjects' choice. The responses
sociated with a brand's imagery. The endorsers' were to be given on a five-point Likert type scale ranging
characteristics are viewed from two perspectives. from agree (5) to disagree (1). Instructions about
First, that endorser is the source of information in celebrity to be considered were restricted to four
tine advertisement, hence contributing to the accept- celebrities (Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan among males
ance of the content of the message because of the and Kajol and Aishwarya Rai among females featuring
source's credibility or attractiveness, whereas the advertisements of various brands of soft drinks). In order
second and more recent perspective suggests that to ascertain the respondents' familiarity with the celeb-
endorser is someone possessing some symbolic prop- rities, a preliminary study was undertaken. The recall
erties which are transferred from the endorser to the was found to be high and all the respondents were users
endorsed brand (through advertising) and then from of the brands studied. As far as the target is concerned, in
tftie 1 "triuui1 tb the consumer (through the acts of the absence of any reliable published claim about die
purchasing and consuming or owning the brand). exact target of the campaigns, the authors considered the
In the light of- the above facts, the-present study total share of the consumption of the brands in the
was undertaken wok an objective to explore the area from which the study sample was chosen as a
perceptual differences amongst adolescents about starting point. According to the data available, the
effectiveness of male and female celebrity endorsers. sample universe (as per age group) accounted for almost
35 per cent of the total consumption of the products
Methodology under study. Hence it was reasonable to believe that
the target of the brands' communication is inclusive of
The Study the sample universe. For data analysis, the collected
The present study was focused at exploring the differ- data were subjected to test for significance of difference
ences amongst adolescents' perceptions about the ef- between means, i.e., Z-test. The statistical analysis was
fectiveness of male and female celebrities. The study undertaken after dividing the obtained data on the basis
of gender of subjects and celebrity.
Vol 26, No. 4, October-December 2001
61

Vikalpa
Results and Discussion * There is significant difference between female ado
lescents' perception toward attractiveness, trustwor
Results of the study can be summarized as under:
thiness, and expertise of male and female celebrities.
• Male adolescents' perception of female celebrity's Female adolescents perceive female celebrities to be
attractiveness, trustworthiness, and expertise is sig more attractive, expert, and trustworthy than male
nificantly higher in comparison to their perception celebrities (Zatt = 10.98, p < 0.01; Ztrt = 4.213, p
of male celebrity (Zatt = 9.54, p < 0.01; Ztrt = 2.47, < 0.01; and Zexp = 3.14, p < 0.05).
p < 0.05; and Zexp = 3.49, p < 0.01). Even on
• On total sample too, irrespective of respondents'
cumulative influence, female celebrity is found to
gender, their perception of male and female celeb
be more influencing than male celebrity.
rities' attractiveness, trustworthiness, and expertise
• There is no significant difference in the perception differed significantly with female celebrity being
of male and female adolescents about male perceived as more attractive, trustworthy, and expert
celebrity's attractiveness, trustworthiness, and exper by adolescents (Zatt = 10.15, p < 0.01; Ztrt = 3.34,
tise. The same pattern is visible even in total score p < 0.05; and Zexp = 3.28, p < 0.05) (Table 2).
(Table 1).
As the design used to analyse the data accounted
• There is significant difference in the perception of for controlled manipulation of the gender of both
male adolescents about male celebrity's attractive the subjects (adolescents) and the targets (celebrities),
ness, trustworthiness and expertise as compared with it can be inferred from the results that the gender
that of female adolescents about female celebrity. of the perceiver (here the adolescents) is less an
Here, female adolescents found female celebrity indicator of the perception of celebrity endorser
being jnore attractive, trustworthy, and expert as (Table 2, Study groups 2, 3, and 5). On the other
compared to male adolescents' perception of male hand, it is the gender of the celebrity which has
celebrity (Zatt * 13.86, p < 0.01; Ztrt = 3.84, p < emerged as an influencer of respondents' perception
0.01; and Zexp ?= 5.18, p < 0.01). (Table 2, study groups 1, 4, and 6). It can be argued
• Male adolescents' perception about female that celebrity's gender has some influence on the
celebrity's attractiveness and trustworthiness is sig judgement of adolescents regarding celebrity's attrac-
nificantly higher than that of female respondents' tiveness, trustworthiness, and expertise. Even on
perception about male celebrity (Zatt = 8.06, p < cumulative basis, the same pattern can be observed
0.01; Ztrt = 2.88, p < 0.05). Although there is no which can be attributed to the interactive effect of
significant difference in the perceptions about respec the gender of both the target and the perceiver.
tive celebrity's expertise, the difference is found To further the argument about celebrity's gender
significant on cumulative score (Zcum = 3.90, p < influencing the perceptions of the perceivers (ado*
0.01). lescents in this case), analogous support can be drawn'
• , No significant difference is found between male and from the area of sex^roles in consumer behaviow.
female adolescents' perceptions about female It was purported that it is quite common to find
celebrity's attractiveness, trustworthiness, and exper- products that are either exclusively or strongly
tise. The same pattern emerged when compared on associated with the members of one sex. For example,
cumulative scores too. shaving equipments, cigars, ties, etc., are historically
table 1: Mean and Standard Deviation of Attractiveness, Trustworthiness, Expertise, and Overall
Effectiveness of Male and Female Celebrities as Perceived by Male and Female Adolescents
(Pf - 200)
Male Celebrity Female Celebrity

Male Adolescents A (N = 50) B (N = 50)
Attractiveness: 18.72 (4.05) Attractiveness: 27.78 (5.35)
Trustworthiness: 20.66 (5.59) Trustworthiness: 23.58 (6.21)
Expertise: 21.64 (5.43) Expertise: 25.86 (6.33)
Females Adolescents C (N = 50) D (N = 50)
Attractiveness: 18.90 (4.05) Attractiveness: 29.28 (3.55)
Trustworthiness: 20.00 (5.59) Trustworthiness: 24.82 (5.23)
Expertise: 23.18 (5.43) Expertise: 27.50 (5.57)
N.B. Values in parentheses represent standard deviation.

Vol 26, No. 4, October-December 2001 62 Vikalpa
Table 2; Critical Ratios for Attractiveness, Trustworthiness, Expertise, and Overall Effectiveness of Male
and Female Celebrities as Perceived by Male and Female Adole scents (N = 200)

Study Groups Critical Ratio (Z-Valtie)

1. Male Celebrity- Male Attractiveness = 9.54**
Adolescent and Female Celebrity Trustworthiness = 2.47*
- Male Adolescents Expertise = 3.492** Overall * 4.64**
2. Male Celebrity - Male Attractiveness = 0.182
Adolescent and Male Celebrity - Trustworthiness = 0.560
Female Adolescents Expertise = 1.108 Overall = 0.233
3. Male Celebrity - Male Attractiveness = 13.86**
Adolescent and Female Celebrity Trustworthiness = 3.840**
- Female Adolescents Expertise = 5.18** Overall = 6.478**
4. Female Celebrity - Male Attractiveness = 8.062**
Adolescent and Male Celebrity - Trustworthiness = 2.889**
Female Adolescents Expertise = 1.861 Overall = 3.904**
5. Female Celebrity - Male Attractiveness •=* 1.652
Adolescent and Female Celebrity Trustworthiness = 1.080
- Female Adolescents Expertise = 1.375 Overall = 1.280
6. Male Celebrity - Female Attractiveness = 10.984**
Adolescent and Female Celebrity Trustworthiness = 4.213**
- Female Adolescents Expertise = 3.139** Overall = 5.390**
•Significant at .05 level.
"Significant at .01 level.
mate products, whereas bracelets, hair dryers, and match up between spokesperson and audience simi-
sweet smelling colognes are generally considered larity is specially important when the product or
feminine products. Though there are researches to service in question is one where audience members
suggest that for most of these products, the sex link are heterogeneous in terms of their tastes and
is either diminishing or disappearing blurring the line preferences (Fieck and Higie, 1992). It has also been
between 'male only' or female only' products, observed that advertising researchers have not stud-
consumer still tend to impute sex or gender to the ied attractiveness extensively, and what littte research
products and for this reason in the light of 'cultural has been conducted has focused primarily on the
mewrung transfer' proposition, it is reasonable to physical attractiveness dimension only fOhnjan> 19|N$,
argue that advertisers should not only consider the
The findings of the present study can be seen
sex of target market but also the cues associated with
the products which may transfer certain meanings in the light of the argument that gender of the subjects
had no significant effect on their intention to purchase
influencing the perceived sex of the product category
or evaluate the attractiveness and expertise of the
(WiMsie, 1995; Shermach, 1995). In this context, as
the celebrities offer variety of cues through their celebrities (Ohnian, 1991). The findings of the present
study can be explained with the help of social
personality, achievements, and other attributes, their
comparison theory proposed by Festinger (1954),
gender can be rightly seen as an important variable
affecting ad-effectiveness as indicated by the current which purported that adolescents and pre-adolescents
compare their physical attractiveness witn that of
findings & The observations of Kamins (1990),
models. Apart from this, similar influences of the
further lend credence to the present findings that what
makes a celebrity an effective endorser is the gender of adolescents on their perception of celebrity
endorser's physical attractiveness irrespective of
existence of a meaningful relationship or match up
celebrity's gender find significant support from earlier
between the audience, and the product.
researches which suggested that advertising and mass
Another theme which supports the influence of media may play a part in creating and reinforcing
cetebrity endorser's gender on adolescents' percep- a preoccupation with physical attractiveness (Downs
tion of their attractiveness is the fact that the general and Harrison, 1985; Myers and Biocca, 1992) and
concept of attractiveness consists of three related influence consumer perceptions of what constitutes
ideas, similarity, familiarity, and liking (Triandis, an acceptable level of physical attractiveness (Peterson,
1971). In addition, a study has demonstrated that a 1987; Richins, 1991). Further support can be found
Vol. 26, No. 4, October-December 2001 63 Vikalpa
in the assertion of Martin and Kennedy (1994a, be supported with the association principle of attrac-
1994b) that female college students, adolescents, and tion in which the core idea is that one likes those
pre-adolescents compare their physical attractiveness who are associated with good experiences and
with that of models in advertisements and identify dislikes those who are associated with bad experi-
with the models. ences (Taylor, Peplau and Sears, 1997).
Another view which supports the present find
On the other hand, the findings of the present ings is the argument that likeable personality traits
study are in contrast with some other researches.
across a group do not vary significantly. Anderson
According to a study of Franzoi (1995), the nature
(1968) explored amongst a group of college students
of physical attractiveness differs for male and female about their choice of how much they would like a
children and adolescents as well. He further ex-
person having some of the previously selected per
plained that girls tend to view their bodies as 'objects'
sonality traits. He found a general agreement among
and their physical beauty determines how they and the students about which characteristics are desirable
others judge their overall value, whereas boys tend
and which are undesirable. The findings of the
to view their bodies as 'process,' and power and
present study can further be supported by the
function are more important criteria for evaluating assertions of Zajonc (1968). He proposed a theory
their physical self. On similar lines, Lerner, Orlos
of mere exposure effect which purports that simply
and Knapp (1976) reported that female adolescents'
being exposed frequently to a person can increase
self concepts were derived primarily from attractive- one's liking for that person. This explains to some
ness of body, whereas male adolescents' self concepts
extent the insignificant difference between male and
were related more strongly to perceptions of physical
female adolescents while perceiving either male or
instrumental effectiveness. Further, it has been argued female celebrity. It can be argued that since all the
that as the ideal of attractiveness for girls is culturally
celebrities under study here are familiar faces, it is
more salient, they are more likely to be negatively
most likely that majority of respondents have «een
affected by the masculine ideal (Franzoi, 1995). The them frequently either in movies, television |»o-
findings of the study can be supported with the
grammes or other advertisements. This frequent
assertions of social comparison theory which holds
encounter of celebrities with the subjects might have
that people have a drive to evaluate their opinions led to similar feelings among the subjects. ,,
and abilities, which can be satisfied by 'social
comparisons' with other people. With theory as a Implications of the Study
framework, recent researches have established that
fertiale college students, pre-adolescents, and adoles- The present findings provide wider implications for
cents do compare their physical attractiveness with advertisers as well as marketing practitioners. As the
that of models in advertisements (Richins, 1991; study has pointed out that gender of celebrity signifi-
Martin and Kennedy, 1993; 1994a). cantly influences consumer perceptions about the
product irrespective of consumers' gender, the adwertis*
Levitt (1965) tested whether the effects of sales ers need to come out of 'like attracts like' cage for
people representing a prestigious company, a me- gender-specific products. An indication from the present
diup credible company, and an anonymous company study is that it is the celebrities' influence in terms of
had a differential impact on purchasing agents. It was achievements and image which accounts for greater
found that better the company's reputation, better influence than the sectoral gender match. Secondly,
were the salespeople's chances of getting a first celebrity endorsements need to be seen beyond the
hearing for a new product and early adoption of the gender-product match and audience-celebrity-gender
product. This may explain the present findings in match alone to leverage the real associative attributions
terms of no difference in celebrity's effectiveness as inherent in any celebrity in order to influence the
perceived by adolescents of different gender, as they consumers positively rather than simply building the
were exposed to that celebrity prior to their expe- communication campaign for informative or awareness
rience in advertisement and thus they had preset purposes. Thirdly, tracking consumers' changing
evaluations about that particular celebrity. On the behavioural pattern in the light of socio-cultural and
other hand, similarity is sometimes important because environmental changes is important in order to adapt
a source that is presented as being similar to the communication and promotional programmes to these
audience in terms of attitudes, opinions, activities, changes. This will help marketers in increasing the
background, social status or life style could achieve effectiveness of the advertising programmes to extract
botii liking and identification. The study can further greater benefits in terms of correct attributions and

Vol., No. 4, October-December 2001 64 Vika l p a
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