Author(s): R Bruce Money, Terence A Shimp, Tomoaki Sakano
The rapid advance of media technology and its expanding reach have elevated celebrities and the products they endorse to an unprecedented level of worldwide recognition. Celebrities' product endorsements transcend national borders and flow both from the United States to other countries as well as from other countries to the United States. The percentage of commercials worldwide featuring a celebrity has doubled in the last 10 years to about 17 percent (White, 2004). In the United States alone, the use of celebrities in advertisements has increased from 10 to 25 percent over the last decade, according to another estimate (Stafford, Spears, and Hsu, 2003). Even the ubiquitous American infomercial has adopted the practice of using celebrity endorsers, with growing frequency and apparent effectiveness (Martin, Bhimy, and Agee, 2002). Of course, except for cartoon characters and posthumous celebrities, advertisers cannot control the personal lives of their endorsers, and negative publicity surfaces on occasion in the lives of some. The two-edged sword of positive and negative information about a celebrity endorser has been explored mostly from the positive side, which has a well-established literature (e.g., Agrawal and Kamakura, 1995; Mathur, Mathur, and Rangan, 1997; Silvera and Austad, 2004). Damage to product reputation as a function of negative celebrity information emerging after an endorsement relation has been established represents a provocative area of inquiry for advertising researchers but has received limited attention (for exceptions, see Louie, Kulik, and Johnson, 2001; Till and Shimp, 1998). Considered in context of practical brand equity considerations, researchers might contemplate the potential effects on endorsed products resulting from the moral, ethical, and legal problems in which celebrity endorsers sometimes find themselves.