The research project explored the value of the personified celebrity endorser to brand
endorsement and the effect on the original brand and the personified celebrity endorser.
Endorsement has proven to be an effective marketing tool to increase purchase intent and
positively influence consumer attitudes towards a brand and, as a result the use of
endorsers, particularly celebrities, has grown. However the use of celebrities does have its
challenges as aligning the celebrities brand with ones’ own brand can be a risk. Overcoming
these challenges usually results in brands using personified endorsers, characters
designed to personify the brand, designed to reflect, and share features of, the brand’s
personality through endorsement. These characters require large amounts of investment
in time and finance, which later are often terminated after a period resulting in sunk costs
and loss of the characters’ equity.
This loss of equity in turn leads to these personified endorsers losing credibility in the
market and subsequently losing economic value when made redundant, particularly if they
have celebrity status. While many studies have been done on personified endorsers, few
have focused on human personified endorsers. Thus, to understand the potential impact of
the personified celebrity endorser’s credibility on consumers and other brands, a
quantitative study was undertaken that looked at the source credibility of an original brand
(Hansa Pilsener) and a personified celebrity endorser (The Vuyo character).
The source credibility was measured across three attributes: attractiveness,
trustworthiness and expertise. These attributes were measured pre and post respondents
being shown fictional stories involving Vuyo endorsing other brands or products.
The main finding of the research was that the personified celebrity endorser has his/her
own credibility that is separate from the original brand and if the personified celebrity
endorser promotes another brand or product, the original brand’s credibility remains
unharmed. This suggests that the personified celebrity endorser’s value can be extended
to other brands in order to gain further economic value