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Free Content The Strengths and Weaknesses of Celebrities as Branding and Creative Design Elements in Advertising

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Celebrities are one of the most commonly used elements in advertising, as both design elements to signal the brand and as creative devices to attract attention and increase the consumers’ positive attitude to the advertisement. This raises two issues. The first is that despite the cost, as celebrities can be very expensive, prior literature has provided mixed results regarding celebrity contribution to effective advertising. The second is the possibility of conflicting objectives, in that a celebrity that is a powerful enough creative device to lift the cut through of the advertising may distract rather than build attention to the brand. Therefore, an advertisement gains on one dimension of advertising effectiveness but loses on another.

This multi-country study examines the strengths and weaknesses of celebrities as design elements in advertising, using advertisement recall, likeability and correct branding as advertising effectiveness measures. This research shows that celebrities cannot be used as silver bullets to guarantee effective advertising. We find no support that celebrity advertisements systematically outperform non-celebrity advertisements on any of the three advertising effectiveness measures. Category-level analysis reveals that advertisements with celebrities both outperform and underperform advertisements without celebrities. Further analysis with a classification of celebrity professions shows the superiority of athlete celebrities against non-celebrity advertisements in advertisement likeability. This suggests that there are extraneous factors which impact on advertising effectiveness when celebrities are involved. Our testing of some possible extraneous factors did not reveal anything significant.

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Keywords: advertising effectiveness; branding elements; celebrity; creative elements

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of South Australia

Publication date: March 1, 2015

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  • The Journal of Design, Business & Society is a double-blind peer reviewed scholarly journal that aims to publish high-quality academic papers that examine the role of design in business and/or society, case studies, design critiques, and book reviews of relevant literature. Our aim is to promote cross-disciplinary research in the field of design. Therefore, in addition to design papers we are also interested in receiving manuscripts on research about design that are coming from non-design areas, such as business, marketing, management, health, psychology, social sciences, environmental sciences, and others.
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