The Local Endorser: Why it should Work
to be effective in their communication, they should be perceived as trustworthy, expert and attractive. They should also be perceived as being emotionally involved in the endorsement process. Further, it is important that there is a successful meaning transfer between the ce-lebrity and product, as well as the product and consumer.
The main hypothesis of this study is that employing local celebrity endorsement can be as effective as traditional, well-known celebrity endorsement. It is important to establish this because many firms, especially new ventures, lack the sufficient financial capital needed for investing in typically expensive celebrity endorsement. Therefore, the previous research on general celebrity endorsement that serves as the theoretical framework is now applied to the idea of using local celebrity endorsement. This part is the authors own integration and acts as the first part of developing and supporting the hypothesis before testing it empiri-cally.
In this thesis, a local celebrity is defined as someone famous within a region, niche, cate-gory, market or culture. The value of local celebrities might be understated. In today‟s soci-ety, it can appear that everything is a race to the top. The ultimate aim is to appear on top lists, employ top achievers, associate with A-listers, appear in the Fortune 500, and be the overall „Number 1‟. It is easy to simply focus on the mass market, rather than niche mar-kets. Therefore, the value of local celebrities is easily overlooked. What should be kept in mind is that local celebrities often may experience the same type of attention from the pub-lic as a well-known celebrity, although in the limits of their particular region or context. For newly started ventures, this may be especially true as recent research by Pae, Samiee and Tai (2002) shows that localized advertising messages are especially effective when brand knowledge is low. This is because these types of new and unknown brands require creative and culturally-compatible advertising for each market (Pae, et al., 2002). Further, it was found that consumers perceive local advertisements to be more interesting, less irritating, and generally preferred them to foreign commercials. Local advertisements were even pre-ferred in terms of purchase intentions (Pae, et al., 2002). The bottom line is that firms should look beyond mass marketing and explore the values of niche markets with their re-spective local celebrities.
Celebrities with Benefits
The authors of this thesis propose that the benefits of using a local celebrity in marketing communications could be many. The most obvious, of course, is their more reasonable price tag compared to well-known celebrities. Intuitively, the lesser known the celebrity is to the general public, the less she or he will be able to charge for the endorsement contract. Some local celebrities might even see this as a good opportunity for wanted publicity, and the deal could be closed at an even lower price than expected. Also intuitively; local, less-known celebrities are more likely to be easier to reach out to and employ. They probably have fewer items and commitments on their agenda and not as many people and opportun-ities fighting for their attention.
Perhaps most importantly, the local celebrity can be easier to relate to. Local celebrities are more likely to be seen in their everyday life and therefore be viewed as more real. A local celebrity is someone who is seen more as an average person, someone approachable by the masses. An important theoretical finding in this context is that local commercials (involving a local celebrity) seem to „naturally personify‟ cultural traits that local consumers under-stand and can relate to (Pae et al., 2002).
It has also been established that choosing the „right‟ celebrity is not simply about fame lev-el. Rather, the perceived fit between the product and the celebrity may be as important to consumers (The NPD Group/Celebrity Influence Study, 2006). Arguably, it will be easier to successfully fit a local brand with a local celebrity.
Finally, assumptions could be made about the negative aspects of celebrity endorsements. One of the major concerns of using celebrity endorsement is the risk for a negative image transfer to take place between the celebrity and the product. This can happen if the celebri-ty is involved in a real or alleged scandal, or if negative information is revealed about the celebrity (Andersen, 1983). Although it cannot be said with certainty, local celebrities can very well be assumed less prone to be involved in a scandal and in turn negatively affect the company. The argument is that local celebrities are not surrounded with as much media at-tention as well-known celebrities. This decreases the risk for false negative information about the celebrity to arise.
Under the following sub -headings, the benefits of using a local celebrity endorser will be discussed briefly in terms of the following concepts used throughout the thesis.
As stated in the section above, local celebrities are thought to be easier to relate to. It also seems that this may have positive effects on the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement. Erdogan (1999) contents that in order to gain communication effectiveness, the chosen endorser should be one that people can relate to and is similar to the target group. This is because consumers more easily can trust these individuals. As it seems, a local celebrity should be perceived more trustworthy than a more famous celebrity.
Perceived expertise is pointed out as the second important condition for being a credible communicator (Hovland, 1953). However, it is hard to guess whether or not local celebri-ties can be perceived at least as expert as better known celebrities. There might not be a distinction between local and well-known celebrities in possession of knowledge, expe-rience and skills. However, since expertise also is defined as the ability of the source to make truthful statements (Erdogan, 1999), it could be presumed that since local celebrities might be trusted more, they are also „trusted to be expert‟ if so is portrayed.
Hypothesis 1: Local celebrity endorsement can be viewed at least as credible as well-known celebrity endors-ers.
The communication effectiveness of the message partly depends on the familiarity, similari-ty and likeability of the endorser (McCracken, 1989). Arguably, celebrities that are local and seemingly closer to the public may be perceived more familiar and similar. Most notable is probably the similarity characteristic. Similarity is a reoccurring factor of importance in the study of influence and persuasion. Apparently, human beings inherently rely on the people around them for how to think, feel, and act. It is also said that influence is often best when exerted horizontally rather than vertically (Cialdini, 2001). In other words, people are more likely to be influenced by an endorser who seems closer to them. However, this being said
1 Introducing Celebrity Endorsement
1.1 Background to Study: Celebrity Endorsement, A Good but Expensive Idea
1.2 Problem Discussion
1.3 Purpose: Investigating Communication Effectiveness of Local and Well-known Celebrity Endorsement
1.4 Research Questions
1.6 Definitions of Concepts
1.7 Thesis Outline
2 Theoretical Framework
2.1 Choice of Theory
2.2 Choosing the Right Celebrity
3 The Local Endorser: Why it should Work
3.1 Celebrities with Benefits
3.2 Communication Effectiveness of Local and Well-known Celebrity Endorsement
4.1 Inductive or Deductive Approach
4.2 Qualitative versus Quantitative Research Approach
4.3 Research Strategy
4.3.1 Survey Design
4.3.2 Choosing the Right Celebrity
4.3.3 Designing Survey Questions
4.4 Survey Procedure
4.5 Validity and Reliability
5 Findings and Analysis
5.1 Data Analysis
5.2 Overview of Findings
5.3 Analysis in Accordance with Theoretical Framework
5.4 Analysis of Celebrity Endorsement Today
7 Limitations, Suggestions for Future Research and
7.2 Suggestions for Future Research
7.3 Final Thoughts
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Local Celebrity Endorsement