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If Kate voted Conservative, would you?: The role of celebrity endorsements in political party advertising

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Purpose ‐ This research has been conducted with the aim of determining if celebrity endorsers in political party advertising have a significant impact on UK voter intentions. The use of celebrity endorsements is commonplace in the USA, but little is known about its effects in the UK. This research also aims to incorporate the use of celebrity endorsements in political party advertising with the political salience construct. Political salience represents how prominent politics and political issues are in the minds of the eligible voter. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A 2 (endorser: celebrity; non-celebrity)×2 (political salience: high; low) between-subjects factorial design experiment was used. The results show that celebrity endorsements do play a significant role in attitudes towards the political advert, attitudes towards the endorser and voter intention. However, this effect is significantly moderated by political salience. Findings ‐ The results show that low political salience respondents were significantly more likely to vote for the political party when a celebrity endorser is used. However, the inverse effect is found for high political salience respondents. Practical implications ‐ The results offer significant insights into the effect that celebrity endorsers could have in future elections and the importance that political salience plays in the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement. If political parties are to target those citizens that do not actively engage with politics then the use of celebrity endorsements would make a significant impact, given the results of this research. Originality/value ‐ This research would be of particular interest to political party campaigners as well as academics studying the effects of advertising and identity salience.
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Keywords: Advertising; Celebrities; Elections; Political parties; Politics; United Kingdom

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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