Purpose: This paper aims to examine the effects of narrowing social distance with celebrity endorsers (i.e. via close relationship social categories) and their origin (i.e. local or international) on consumer attitudes about advertisements. It is proposed that using such a relational approach to celebrity endorsement, where celebrities are framed as socially close social categories, leads to more favorable attitudes toward the advertisement. Design/methodology/approach: A pilot test on actual advertisements and three laboratory experiments tested the proposed hypotheses on the effects of varying celebrity social distance levels, with self-referencing as mediator, on attitudes toward the advertisements. Findings: Celebrity endorsements are more effective when the advertisement features celebrities as socially close social category; furthermore, these effects are more pronounced when the celebrity is local as opposed to foreign. The study also proposes that consumer self-referencing vis-a-vis celebrities’ social distance through framed social categories mediates these effects. Originality/value: Anchored in the identity and social identity theories, implications on relational approaches to celebrity endorsements and international marketing communications are discussed together with the fact that Asian culture inherently subscribes to relational celebrity endorsements.
- Attitudes toward the advertisement
- Celebrity endorsements
- Relational approach
- Social distance