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Brands all over the world use celebrities to advertise their products. As early as 1890, actress Sarah Bernhardt appeared on posters for La Diaphane, a famous brand of rice powder at the time (Lehu, 1993). The use of celebrities in advertising is not, therefore, a new phenomenon, but it has become increasingly widespread.
Brands like Pepsi have featured stars such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, or even the Spice Girls, with varying impact (Erdogan,1999). Pizza Hut launched its restaurants on the international market with icons that are almost universally recognized, such as Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, and Pamela Anderson. Some stars have several contracts with different brands: it is estimated that Michael Jordan, who appears in advertisements for Nike, Coke, Wheaties, Mc Donald’s, Hanes, Oakley, and Gatorade, has an impact worth about 14 billion dollars on the American economy (Erdogan & al. 2001). Similarly, in a single week, French footballer Zinedine Zidane appeared on posters for Dior perfume and Leader Price hard-discount supermarkets, as well as TV ads for Dannon yoghurt. Stars have become a vital component of advertising for certain categories of products, like perfume and cosmetics. While celebrity endorsement in advertising is not a new phenomenon, it has certainly become much more widespread over the past twenty years. It has even become common practice for some companies.
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In fact, consumers have become increasingly keen on celebrities (Masse-Stamberger, 2005): they are interested in people who are well-known simply due to the fact they have appeared on television, — like the stars of reality shows —, and celebrity magazines are tremendously popular, as people always want to know more about stars’ lives. The number of celebrities in advertising increased by 60 % between 2000 and 2004 (Neumann, 2006). As a result, in 2004, nearly 700 television advertisements featured celebrities.
Alongside this phenomenon, research into the role of celebrities in advertising has also increased since the 1990s (Pringle and Binet, 2005; Erdogan, 1999; Ohanian, 1991). This research more specifically investigates the concept of congruency between celebrity and brand, which is apparently a crucial factor. We shall start by defining terms such as “celebrity” and “endorsement” and presenting the main models in this field then introduce a two-dimensional analysis of congruency. We shall attempt to define this concept and its antecedents in more detail.
We shall then propose a scale for measuring perceived congruency between celebrities and brands. We must first define what we mean by celebrity endorsements in advertising. Firstly, we consider advertising according to an extremely broad definition, in agreement with Pringle and Binet: “Everything that has a name on it is advertising”. This definition corresponds to consumer perception of advertising. It covers media advertising, as well as sales promotion, sponsoring, direct marketing, etc.
As consumers do not generally make any distinction among these forms of communication (Ford-Hutchinson and Rothwell, 2002), it was appropriate to adopt this premise in our study, as we are examining the issue from a consumer standpoint. The term “celebrity” needs to be defined: according to the “Encyclopedie de l’Agora”, “celebrity is measured by the number of press cuttings and broadcast time devoted to a person and is thus distinguished from fame, which is generated by a person’s outstanding work or exemplary life.
Of course, a celebrity may be worthy of fame, as was the case of Lindbergh, but the connection is accidental – celebrity has nothing to do with merit, it is simply the result of the media attention given to an act or person”. According to Glamour Speakers, a Paris communication agency specialized in consulting on the choice of celebrities, “a celebrity is a person whose name, face, and voice are spontaneously recognized by a proportion of the general public (…) and who is immediately associated with a set of values”.
This definition corresponds to “classic” celebrity types, like actors, models, sports personalities, and rock stars … These people maintain their “celebrity” by appearances in mass media, such as fashion magazines and tabloids, that inform the public about their private lives. Endorsement (sometimes known as Celebrity Marketing) is a phenomenon where celebrities lend their image to brands. Several researchers have attempted to define endorsement over the last twenty years (see Erdogan, 1999). We will use McCracken’s definition (1989, p. 10): “the celebrity endorser is defined as any individual who enjoys public recognition and who uses this recognition on behalf of a consumer good by appearing with it in an advertisement ». Celebrity endorsements: a major phenomenon The fees received by celebrities for brand endorsements are very high: American actors Nicole Kidmann and Brad Pitt, as well as golfer Tiger Woods, may receive almost 5 million dollars per contract. In Europe, Zinedine Zidane refuses all proposals below 1. 2 million dollars.
Yannick Noah, who recently replaced the footballer as the French public’s favorite personality, received 1,100,000 dollars (exclusive of commission on sales) for the new Sloggi underwear campaign. Research has attempted to elucidate the reasons why companies invest so much money in communication featuring celebrities (Erdogan, Baket and Tagg, 2001). There are many reasons (Lehu, 1993), but firstly, it is significant that celebrity endorsements are a way of avoiding anonymity and standing out from the competition in saturated markets.
For example, in the cosmetic and perfume industry, new products are being launched all the time. Cosmetic brands can no longer achieve recognition merely due to the intrinsic quality of their products, but do so, above all, by the image they project through their advertising campaigns, generally by featuring movie stars, models, or singers. Celebrities make an impression on consumers. According to Jacques Helleu, artistic director for Channel, “it is the only way of making a sufficiently strong impression on consumers memories to trigger a purchase when they are in a sales outlet at a later date” (Devilliers, 2004).
Beyond this objective of differentiation, it also gives brands an opportunity to focus their positioning in consumers’ minds. Another interesting example is that of Madrange, a French SME specialized in ham (Maudieu, 2004): recruiting famous actresses, like Veronique Jeannot in 1988, and, particularly, Veronique Genest and Sophie Duez, enabled this brand to develop awareness and a quality image, thus moving up to second position in this market, behind Fleury Michon.
Sometimes, celebrity endorsements also give a brand considerable exposure in the press, who are more likely to report on events concerning the brand if the celebrities are present (e. g. brand promotion parties; Erdogan and al. , 2001). The impact on sales is more difficult to assess. In 1998, Fortune magazine estimated Michael Jordan’s impact on the American economy and, particularly, on brands like Nike and Disney, at 14 billion dollars.
Recent advertising campaigns for Sloggi, featuring Yannick Noah, led to a 47% increase in the brand’s sales on the men’s and 5% on the women’s market over the past 10 months, which is an excellent result in a declining market (Neumann, 2006). The results of celebrity endorsements are, however, highly variable, as there are many factors involved, including the choice of celebrity, and the quality of the advertising itself, as well as the media programme, or even press relations.
This is why it is interesting to understand how endorsement works and identify the decisive factors for its effectiveness. From this perspective, we shall present the main models devised to explain the type of relationship that develops between celebrities and consumers. These models are essential to our understanding of the influence of celebrity on brand perception. The source attractiveness model The attractiveness model assumes that the effectiveness of the message depends on the physical characteristics of the source.
A celebrity spokesperson’s physical attractiveness has a positive impact on brand recall, attitude towards the brand, and purchasing intent (Kahle and Homer, 1985). Here, the endorser’s physical attractiveness is assumed to have an influence on the target’s acceptance of the advertising, particularly due to the phenomenon of identification. The effectiveness of the message depends on the endorser’s similarity, likeableness, and familiarity. While there is no doubt that a celebrity endorser may improve attitude towards advertising and a brand, its impact on purchasing behavior is less clear (Erdogan, 1999).
Attractiveness of the source is not the only characteristic of a celebrity to take into account (Friedman and Friedman, 1979) and is mainly significant for brands related to physical appearance (Kamins, 1990). The source credibility model The source credibility model was developed in the 1950s by Hovland and colleagues (Hovland and Weiss, 1951). According to this model, the effectiveness of a message depends on the perceived level of expertise and trustworthiness of an endorser (Ohanian, 1991). • Expertise refers to the extent to which the endorser is perceived as a valid source of information (Erdogan, 1999).
It is a matter of determining whether the advertising target perceives the endorser as having a certain level of experience, knowledge, and know-how that makes their recommendation of a product and/or brand credible. Erdogan’s review of previous literature (1999) indicated that a source perceived as highly credible is more effective and persuasive than a less credible one, as well as inducing a more positive change of attitude towards the brand or product and more changes in behavior. • Trustworthiness refers to the endorser’s honesty, credibility, and integrity, as perceived by the target.
It is a matter of determining whether the consumer trusts the source for the honest, objective way the information is presented (Ohanian, 1991). Ohanian (1990) developed a three-dimensional scale for assessing a celebrity’s credibility. The three dimensions in this credibility scale are attractiveness, trustworthiness, and expertise. However, as McCracken (1989) and Erdogan (1999) noted, limiting the assessment of an individual to certain dimensions may seem rather restrictive. These models may seem attractive but they have been criticized on several levels (Erdogan, 1999, Bower and Landreth, 2001).
They do not properly take into account the multifunctional aspect of certain characteristics of the source and there is no proof that the dimensions examined are the correct ones. However, above all, these models seem incomplete as they do not consider all the significance and perceptions connected to a particular celebrity, merely focusing on certain characteristics of the endorser, so we do not feel they are capable of capturing what a person, as a whole, is capable of contributing to an advertisement.
We think that McCracken’s meaning transfer model (1989), which includes all the cultural connotations of celebrity, is more suitable, as it explains the endorsement process as a whole. McCracken’s meaning transfer model (1989) This model has the advantage of including affective and cognitive aspects. The transfer theory relies on the endorsement process described by McCracken (1989). This process is based on the idea that, in the consumer society, which is organized around culture, celebrities have a shared cultural significance in the eyes of consumers (McCracken, 1986, 1989).
McCracken defines this transfer as the translation of the meaning of celebrity to a product or brand, e. g. in advertisements with celebrity spokespersons. Endorsement is effective when an individual who buys and consumes the product appropriates the meaning associated with the celebrity, which has been transferred to the product. About Bharti Airtel Limited Bharti Airtel Limited, a group company of Bharti Enterprises, is India’s leading integrated telecom services provider with an aggregate of 50 million customers.
Bharti Airtel has been rated among the best performing companies in the world in the Business Week IT 100 list 2007. Bharti Airtel is structured into three strategic business units – Mobile services, Broadband & Telephone (B&T) services and Enterprise services. The mobile business provides mobile & fixed wireless services using GSM technology across 23 telecom circles. The B&T business provides broadband & telephone services in 94 cities. The Enterprise services provide end-to-end telecom solutions to corporate customers and national & international long distance services to carriers.
All these services are provided under the Airtel brand. Airtel’s high-speed optic fibre network currently spans over 53,000 kms covering all the major cities in the country. The company has two international landing stations in Chennai that connects two submarine cable systems – i2i to Singapore and SEA-ME-WE-4 to Europe. For more information, visit www. bhartiairtel. in Telecom giant Bharti Airtel is the flagship company of Bharti Enterprises. The Bharti Group, has a diverse business portfolio and has created global brands in the telecommunication sector.
Bharti has recently forayed into retail business as Bharti Retail Pvt. Ltd. under a MoU with Wal-Mart for the cash & carry business. It has successfully launched an international venture with EL Rothschild Group to export fresh agri products exclusively to markets in Europe and USA and has launched Bharti AXA Life Insurance Company Ltd under a joint venture with AXA, world leader in financial protection and wealth management. Airtel comes to you from Bharti Airtel Limited, India’s largest integrated and the first private telecom services provider with a footprint in all the 23 telecom circles.
Bharti Airtel since its inception has been at the forefront of technology and has steered the course of the telecom sector in the country with its world class products and services. The businesses at Bharti Airtel have been structured into three individual strategic business units (SBU’s) – mobile services, broadband & telephone services (B&T) & enterprise services. The mobile business provides mobile & fixed wireless services using GSM technology across 23 telecom circles while the B&T business offers broadband & telephone services in 94 cities.