The Power of Celebrity Endorsements Fashion Report by Anna Petriccione

F a s h i o n; the universal word that captures style, identity, and culture all in one. Fashion is important everywhere, as it allows people to express themselves through a prevailing custom or style of dress, etiquette, and socializing. What one wears says a lot about who they are. Fashion is also the term used for the latest popular trend of dress, or manners of behavior in society. Therefore I believe the idea of “fashion” in terms of style, identity, and culture can become extremely powerful by incorporating celebrities to promote or create fashion trends because they are always in the public eye almost as the latest “trends” in Hollywood and they have a huge impact on the fashion industry. Therefore, the purpose of my report is to show why the fashion industry should look to incorporating celebrities into advertising for brands, and to make this known to fashion brand managers and chief marketing officers.

Brands, Celebrities, and Popular Culture:

A brand; a distinguished name, design, or symbol that consumers can identify with based on personal taste. Brands have become embedded in the consumer psyche and offer consumers the opportunity for self-expression, self-realization and self-identity. A celebrity is someone who exists in the public eye and builds their own brand that certain people can identify with. Celebrities understand the concept creating, maintaining, developing, and promoting a brand because they are indeed their own brand. They know how to market themselves, and they know how to reach specific consumers, especially when they already have a great following and reputation. Celebrities also attract consumers through their special unique talent or skill that can endorse a fashion brand significantly. I think the most important connection is that certain celebrity popularity changes with time, as does fashion, and fashion brands. Celebrity popularity is also reflected by popular culture. Popular culture is also defined by time, as it represents the popular beliefs, values, political views, social norms, movements, or fads of a certain time period. Brands also represent popular culture too, and an example would be the recent uproar of lifestyle brands as a representation of meaning and value in consumer’s lifestyles. This idea of popular culture goes hand in hand with celebrities, because celebrities arise out of popular culture. Fashion brand managers and chief marketing officers should understand popular culture and how celebrities are a part of that culture.

Social and cultural origins: Why should fashion brands pay attention to and integrate celebrities into their advertising?

As I mentioned earlier, popular culture plays a huge role in celebrity popularity. Popular culture is defined as the entirety of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, images, and other phenomena that are within the mainstream of a given culture. Therefore, whatever the new fad of popular culture may be, there is always a set of celebrities that rise within in that time period and make a name for themselves based on creative talent, image, and the ability to spark interest around the world. Popular culture endorses their popularity by putting them in the spotlight based on their career, or leadership roles. I think celebrity popularity intrigues fashion brand managers and chief marketing officers because celebrities can reach consumers in ways advertising cannot. Therefore, combining celebrities and advertisements can increase the promotion of a brand in a successful way. This is why celebrities should be included in fashion brand advertising. A celebrity is admired by the general public for their successes, and we as consumers admire what they have, whether it be cool cars, or extravagant houses. More importantly, we look at what a celebrity wears to understand who they are, and consumers may want to follow their style. They can be viewed as icons. I believe this concept drives consumers to buy products that a celebrity identifies with, especially fashion brands, because we all dream to live their lifestyle. We want what celebrities have. Also, in today’s popular culture, social media has consumed our attention. We all follow our favorite celebrities on Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat and we are able to see what they are wearing through posts. Sometimes, celebrities even create their own fashion line. We cannot avoid pop culture, due to advanced technology and the presence of social media as a platform of news and social life. We simply cannot ignore that celebrities are a part of popular culture. They can even be fashion symbols. This is a major advantage to incorporating celebrities in advertising! I also looked into the Meaning Transfer Model to further explain why celebrities can leave an impact. The Meaning Transfer Model explains the way consumers associate meaning with celebrities. It states that what a celebrity represents, is derived from the professional persona and environment of the celebrity. For example, consumers attach meanings and associations to celebrities as a result of their roles in television, film, music, or athletics. This meaning is then transferred to the product when the celebrity is seen in an advertisement. Some of the meanings of the celebrity become synonymous with the product. In the final stage meaning moves from the product to the consumer. Endorsers are thus seen as conduits of cultural meaning transfer, and configurations of desirable cultural meanings become part of the brand. Consumers take possession of meanings and put them to work in the construction of their notions of the self and the world. Thus, celebrities are seen as super-consumers exemplary figures who have created the clear and coherent powerful selves that everyone seeks and so strong that even a “momentary glimpse” of them in an advertisement instantly conveys meaning. Inevitably, celebrities can assist fashion trends using their own personal success and popularity to spark interest in a brand.

Consumer purchasing behavior/ changing consumer tastes:

A consumer looks for differentiation in products when considering a purchase and consumer behavior is constantly changing, especially within the world of fashion. Consumers are always looking for the next big trend that will set their personal style apart from everyone else, or they will follow the lead of trend setters. I believe this need to stand out and want the best product possible shifted consumer tastes and purchasing. Products with meaning that can by symbolic for specific lifestyles are what consumers wants. This is the reason why lifestyle brands in fashion have been on the rise. Consumers play an important role in the building of powerful brands, as do celebrities. “Products evolved into brands in order to create differentiation in increasingly competitive markets by offering customers something extra above and beyond the functional attributes and associated potential benefits” (Caroll 2). The emphasis of a brand is based on more symbolic, emotional features that generate more socio- psychological associations in the minds of consumers. Therefore, symbolic values become more important in differentiating the brand. Celebrities might just be the perfect touch to enhancing a brand, allowing that brand to stand out and be different. This indeed attracts consumers, especially since celebrities can create fashion trends. “Creating brand value and building brand equity requires managers to develop favorable, strong, and unique brand associations through an integrated approach” (Carroll 3). Consumers tend to see brands as badges that convey social meaning and that have the power to generate social acceptance. Brands also allow individuals to express themselves as they would like to be seen and this can generate social belonging.

What can celebrities bring to the endorsements?

Celebrity endorsement has become a popular approach in the branding process both in terms of gaining and keeping attention, and in creating favorable associations leading to positive knowledge and distinct brand images. Advertising is used as an important too in brand- image creation, and there has been an increase in the value of campaigns using celebrities to endorse brands, with cultural meaning transferred from a celebrity to a brand to a consumer. The benefits of celebrity endorsements for a brand include increased attention, image polishing, brand introduction, brand repositioning, brand recall, and perception of product value. “Celebrity endorsements enhance brand recall: subjects viewing ads for a product are more likely to remember the product if the ads feature a celebrity” (Clark 4). Also, Successful celebrity/ brand partnerships have resulted in significant gains in income for brand owners. I looked into the source attractiveness model which suggests that consumers generally have a more positive response to attractive people, and the effectiveness of the message depends on similarity, familiarity, and liking of the endorser. Therefore, attractive, well- known celebrities may be more successful in changing beliefs and generating purchasing intentions of the consumer. Raturi, Sushil, and Vikram Parekh, the authors of the article "The Impact of National Apparel Brand Attributes on Customer Purchase Intention” found through their study that customer knowledge, celebrity endorsement and product packaging/design have significant relationships with purchase intention (Raturi, Sushil, and Vikram Parekh 3). The advertisement represents a form of aesthetic reflexivity: expression that offers intrinsic rewards of self- realization and self –belonging. “Experimental results found that celebrity endorsements lower the cost of reaching a given set of customers by enhancing consumer recall and/or increase consumer’s valuation of an endorsed product” (Clark 18). Making the ads more memorable will also lower the variable cost, which shows that celebrity endorsements for a specific brand are a great asset. Experimental evidence also indicates that consumers value more highly a product endorsed by a celebrity than one without a celebrity endorsement. For instance Clark found that “subjects tend to like the product more when it was endorsed by the famous athlete than by the average citizens of Bakersfield, California. “Subjects tended to rate the products better or of higher quality if it was endorsed by a ‘congruent’ celebrity” (Clark 18). These observations suggest that celebrity endorsements also have a direct demand effect. We incorporate this effect into our model by assuming that a consumer who observes messages for two different firms’ products will likely recall the message containing a celebrity endorsement. This attaches a higher value to the celebrity-endorsed product (4). Finally, if designers can determine which celebrities are seen as leaders, and target consumers effectively, then the introduction of a particular fashion has much higher probability of becoming adopted. Celebrities serve s opinion leaders, and the consumers are there to listen. A perfect example of this idea is known as para social Interaction. I believe this idea is very important to the concept of celebrity endorsements because it is the ways in which audience members develop their one sided relationships with media being consumed, as if they are engaged in a relationship with that engagement (for example- a celebrity speaking directly to them). Mass media viewers and media figures have a para social relationship, where the user acts as if they are involved in a typical social relationship. A celebrity endorsement advertisement for a brand can typically make the consumer feel more inclined to buy something when it seems that the celebrity is talking directly to them. It is clear that celebrities can allow consumers to feel that they are relatable through clothing, since clothing is something we can identify with.

Celebrity endorsement success stories:

“Madonna, the original material girl with her reputation for reflecting dark, pseudo masochistic places in her work, has herself toned down her image in private, with a stable family life and house in the English countryside. Nonetheless, her capacity to take the apparently obvious, push it, subvert it, make it all about sex then twist it some more until you are not sure if it is pastiche or porn remains. This represents a good match-up for the Versace brand, which wants to remove the excesses but retain the self-assured sexuality. Versace hired Madonna as an endorser for the brand, where the advertisement presented Madonna dressed as sexy secretary or power executive super-vixen, depending on interpretation, with her feet up on a glass desk. It is an intriguing context to feature both the Versace brand, which shares no associations with work and office, and Madonna, a professional dancer and singer, who constantly pushes back boundaries through her craft. The approach of these advertisements represents a major change in style for both brands, which have tended to use professional models in their campaigns. This was a successful campaign because Madonna based on the time period, her fan following, and the change in her life fit well with the Versace brand” (Caroll 9). I think this insight written by Carroll gives great detail and insight to how Versace found Madonna to be a great fit to the brand based on the specific stage of her life and the stage of their brand. It was based off of pop culture, appearance, and her personal brand. Another more recent success story of fashion brands partnering with celebrities is the David Beckham and H&M campaign. “David Beckham is without doubt one of the most significant athletes of (post) modern times. He transcends boundaries in a way that few, if any, other English athletes have ever done, and has become a truly global brand. Beckham bends more than just soccer balls. While the phrase “bend it like Beckham” refers to his almost unique ability to curve a free kick around a defensive wall and into the corner of a goal, in the media he also bends societal norms in a commercially appealing way. In this way the David Beckham persona is truly multi-dimensional” (Vincent, John, John S. Hill, and Jason W. Lee. 3). David Beckham began working with H&M in 2012 and he will be building on that partnership, not only continuing with his successful Bodywear collection, but also with the introduction of Modern Essentials by David Beckham - a specially curated selection of his favorite pieces for the season. Beckham and H&M are the dynamic duo, as David Beckham enhances the brand entirely. This will be a campaign to keep an eye on. What will he do next? Other famous successful celebrity/ brand partnerships include Natalie Portman as Miss Dior, Nicole Kidman and Chanel No. 5, Mark Wahlberg and Calvin Klein, Mike Jordan and Nike, and so many more. It is clear that these endorsements have been successful and will continue to be!

Challenges/ Recommendations:

All of this added value is great, but chief marketing officers and fashion brand managers need to be aware of several things! These are some of the challenges fashion brands need to be aware of:

1) Celebrities can command large fees for contracts.

2) The celebrity system is primarily used an American cultural enterprise because Americans identify strongly with celebrities and are more willing to accept and internalize endorsement messages.

3) A celebrity could potentially ruin the reputation of the brand if something happens in their personal life that gets head lined in the media, or even worse they could pass away. Although this is terrible, it is also terrible that the face of the brand could be lost after much hard work.

Therefore, my 3 recommendations to the fashion brand managers and chief marketing officers are:

1) Choose a trustworthy celebrity that fits the brand (Madonna and Versace example). The source credibility model suggests that the effectiveness of the message depends on the degree of expertise and trustworthiness conveyed by the celebrity and trust is reflected in the confidence in the general believability of the celebrity endorser and message. This also goes hand in hand with the “match-up hypothesis” with emphasis for celebrities.

2) Find a celebrity that may have more of an international fan base if you are looking for someone to send a message globally about your brand. This also includes looking at their reputation overall, and if they will be someone consumers will relate to and would want them to be wearing the brand’s and technically their clothing.

3) Brand positioning – find the unique target market and find a celebrity that could be identified with the brand for a long period of time (if successful) Consumers will look for consistency with collaboration, especially if it is a celebrity they will learn to love.

Clearly, Celebrity endorsements have been successful over the years and I believe they will continue to make up a huge percentage of successful brand advertising, especially in the fashion industry. It is proven celebrities can help endorse and promote brands, providing recognition and recall to their list of expertise! I think this is a huge factor for fashion brand managers and chief marketing officers to consider, and I hope to see more successful celebrity/brand partnerships.

Works Cited

Carroll, Angela. "Brand Communications In Fashion Categories Using Celebrity Endorsement." Journal Of Brand Management 17.2 (2009): 146-158. Business Source Complete. Web. 13 Feb. 2016.

Clark, C. Robert, and Ignatius J. Horstmann. "A Model Of Advertising Format Competition: On The Use Of Celebrities In Ads." Canadian Journal Of Economics 46.4 (2013): 1606-1630. Business Source Complete. Web. 13 Feb. 2016.

Raturi, Sushil, and Vikram Parekh. "The Impact Of National Apparel Brand Attributes On Customer Purchase Intention." SIES Journal Of Management 8.2 (2012): 43-53. Business Source Premier. Web. 9 Feb. 2016.

Vincent, John, John S. Hill, and Jason W. Lee. "The Multiple Brand Personalities Of David Beckham: A Case Study Of The Beckham Brand." Sport Marketing Quarterly 18.3 (2009): 173-180. Business Source Complete. Web. 11 Feb. 2016.

Weisfeld-Spolter, Suri, and Maneesh Thakkar. "Is A Designer Only As Good As A Star Who Wears Her Clothes? Examining The Roles Of Celebrities As Opinion Leaders For The Diffusion Of Fashion In The Us Teen Market." Academy Of Marketing Studies Journal 15.2 (2011): 133-144. Business Source Complete. Web. 13 Feb. 2016.

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