Celebrity entrepreneurship and celebrity endorsement : Similarities, differences and the effect of deeper engagement

Abstract: Increasingly, celebrities appear not only as endorsers for products but are apparently engaged in entrepreneurial roles as initiators, owners and perhaps even managers in the ventures that market the products they promote. Despite being extensively referred to in popular media, scholars have been slow to recognize the importance of this new phenomenon. This thesis argues theoretically and shows empirically that celebrityentrepreneurs are more effective communicators than typical celebrityendorsers because of their increased engagement with ventures. I theorize that greater Engagement increases the celebrity's Emotional Involvement as perceived by consumers. This is an endorser quality thus far neglected in the marketing communications literature. In turn, Emotional Involvement, much like the empirically established dimensions Trustworthiness, Expertise and Attractiveness, should affect traditional outcome variables such as Attitude Towards the Advertisement and Brand. On the downside, increases in celebrity engagement may lead to relatively stronger and worsening changes in Attitudes Towards the Brand if and when negative information about the celebrity is revealed. A series of eight experiments were conducted on 781 Swedish and Baltic students and 151 Swedish retirees. Though there were nuanced differences and additional complexities in each experiment, participants' reactions to advertisements containing a celebrity portrayed as a typical endorser or entrepreneur were recorded. The overall results of these experiments suggest that Emotional Involvement can be successfully operationalized as distinct from variables previously known to influence Communication Effectiveness. In addition, Emotional Involvement has positive effects on Attitudes Toward the Advertisement and Brand that are as strong as the predictors traditionally applied in the marketing communications literature. Moreover, the celebrity entrepreneur condition in the experimental manipulation consistently led to an increase in Emotional Involvement and to a lesser extent Trustworthiness, but not Expertise and Attractiveness. Finally, Negative Celebrity Information led toa change in participants' Attitudes Towards the Brand which was more strongly negative for celebrity entrepreneurs than celebrity endorsers. In addition the effect of negative celebrity information on a company's brand is worse when they support the celebrity rather than fire them. However this effect did not appear to interact with the celebrity's purported Engagement.