Celebrity Endorsement

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Connecting with Celebrities: Celebrity Endorsement, Brand Meaning, and Self-Brand Connections

Jennifer Edson Escalas James R. Bettman*

*Jennifer Edson Escalas is an Associate Professor of Management at the Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, 37203, (615) 322-3493, fax (615) 3437177, e-mail: jennifer.escalas@owen.vanderbilt.edu. James R. Bettman is the Burlington Industries Professor at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, Durham NC 27708-0120, (919) 660-7851, fax (919) 681-6245, e-mail: jrb12@mail.duke.edu.

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ABSTRACT

We propose that consumers appropriate brand symbolism that comes from celebrity endorsement to construct and communicate their self-concepts. Study 1 finds that
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We provide the first empirical test of this latter implication of McCracken’s view. After developing our conceptual model in more detail, we present two studies that provide empirical support for the notion that brand endorsement by celebrities with an image that consumers aspire to obtain enhances consumers’ self-brand connections, whereas brands endorsed by celebrities that consumers do not aspire to be like detracts from such connections. These effects are augmented when there is a match between the celebrity’s image and the brand’s image. These effects also are moderated by the degree to which the brands are symbolic, that is, communicate something about the user. Finally, we show that these effects are augmented when consumers feel an increased need for self-enhancement, in response to a threat to self-esteem.

THEORETICAL DEVELOPMENT Celebrity Endorsement, Meaning Transfer, and Self-Brand Connections Possessions can be used to satisfy psychological needs, such as actively creating one’s self-concept, reinforcing and expressing self-identity, and allowing one to differentiate oneself and assert one 's individuality (e.g., Ball and Tasaki 1992; Belk 1988; Kleine, Kleine, and Allen

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1995). Possessions can also serve a social purpose by reflecting social ties to one 's family, community, and/or cultural groups, including brand communities (Muniz and O’Guinn 2001). Consumer
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