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This article considers celebrities as brands and relies on the brand personality literature to investigate how celebrities’ personality impacts their appeal. Celebrities’ appeal is analysed across different cultural fields (TV, music, sport and cinema) and over time. Using data gathered by Epoll Market Research about the perception of more than 3000 celebrities among the US population, our results show that apart from rudeness, all dimensions of personality have a positive impact on appeal. Interestingly, our results show that the impact of personality dimensions varies across cultural fields. Finally, we provide a dynamic analysis of the evolution of appeal over time, which also exhibits different patterns (declining, inverted U-shape) across cultural fields.
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Celebrities as human brands: An investigation of the effects of personality and time on
celebrities' appeal
Renaud LUNARDO*
KEDGE – Bordeaux Business School
Marketing department
680, Cours de la Libération – 33405 Talence Cedex.
Email: renaud.lunardo@kedgebs.com.
Olivier GERGAUD
KEDGE – Bordeaux Business School
CRED – Université de Paris II – Panthéon Assas
1 Research Cluster for Creative Industries, Culture, Sport.
Email: olivier.gergaud@kedgebs.com
Florine LIVAT
KEDGE – Bordeaux Business School
1 Research Cluster for Creative Industries, Culture, Sport.
Email: florine.livat@kedgebs.com
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Celebrities as human brands: An investigation of the effects of personality and time on
celebrities' appeal
Abstract: This paper considers celebrities as brands and relies on the brand personality
literature to investigate how celebrities' personality impacts their appeal. Celebrities' appeal is
analyzed across different cultural fields (TV, music, sport and cinema) and over time. Using
data gathered by Epoll Market Research about the perception of more than 3,000 celebrities
among the U.S. population, our results show that apart from rudeness, all dimensions of
personality have a positive impact on appeal. Interestingly, our results show that the impact of
personality dimensions varies across cultural fields. Finally, we provide a dynamic analysis of
the evolution of appeal over time, which also exhibits different patterns (declining, inverted
U-shape) across cultural fields.
Key words: brand personality, celebrity, appeal, TV, music, sport, cinema.
The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest associated with this research.
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Introduction
In the past decade, the number of people who are considered celebrities has been growing.
Celebrities are present in many different fields, including entertainment, sports, science,
politics (McCutcheon et al., 2002) and have become central for consumers, with 75% of
young adults exhibiting a strong attraction to a celebrity at some point in their lives (Boon and
Lomore, 2001; Flora, 2004).
Although celebrities enjoy fame and significant media coverage, they are not automatically
considered appealing by the audience. Some celebrities are indeed seen as more appealing
than others. For instance, the 91-year-old actress Betty White has been named for the third
time America's most appealing celebrity in 20131, while Paris Hilton was listed among the
least appealing in 20112. Discovering what makes a celebrity appealing is thus of interest to
celebrities, especially for those who use their image to launch their own branded products and
make extra money (e.g., Celine Dion or David Beckham launching a perfume). More than
1,000 celebrity brand extensions were recorded over the 2004-2009 period (Johnson 2009)
and it may be that the appeal of a celebrity impacts the success of a branded celebrity product,
triggering the need to better understand what makes a celebrity appealing.
Surprisingly, despite the importance of the issue of appeal for celebrities, the question
remains unanswered as to what makes a celebrity appealing. What academics have devoted
attention to is mainly what makes a celebrity an appropriate endorser (e.g., Agrawal and
Kamakura, 1995; Erdogan, 1999; McCracken, 1989; Tripp, Jensen and Carlson, 1994; Silvera
and Austad, 2004). More recently, researchers have investigated the valuation by consumers
of some celebrities' memorabilia3 (Newman, Diesendruck and Bloom, 2011). However,
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1http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/10/entertainmentuscelebritiesidUSBRE9390WM20130410
2 http://www.epollresearch.com/marketing/E-Score%20Celebrity%20YE%202011%202012-03-12-02-cf.pdf
3 http://www.nytimes.com/1987/06/26/arts/auctions-celebrities-memorabilia.html
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despite a focus on such aspects pertaining to celebrities, no marketing studies have
investigated so far what makes a celebrity appealing.
To tackle this issue, this research relies on the literature that considers celebrities as brands
(Thomson, 2006). While some would say that celebrities are appealing simply because of
their 'presence', their 'charisma', or something both natural and magic that goes beyond
rationality (Turner, 2014), this research draws on the brand personality literature (Aaker,
1997) and posits that what makes a celebrity appealing lies in her/his personality. As such,
this research first aims to investigate the extent to which the personality of celebrities – and
more precisely what dimension(s) of their personality – impacts their appeal. Importantly, this
investigation is conducted for celebrities from different cultural fields, namely TV, music,
cinema and sports. In doing so, we answer Parmentier's (2012) call for marketing research to
understand the variability of contexts in which celebrities achieve visibility,.
The second question we address is whether celebrities' appeal exhibits some sort of a
'lifecycle'. For instance, some celebrities experience a decline in appeal, as exemplified by the
American Idol judge Nicki Minaj or comic actor Andy Samberg who in 2013 were among
those whose public appeal declined most, according to the EPoll survey4. To this regard, it
remains to be determined whether such a decline can be observed for all celebrities or if the
evolution of appeal is field-specific. Thus, the second goal of this study is to adopt a
longitudinal lens to examine the evolution of appeal over time. This dynamic perspective
enables us to answer the question of whether a common pattern is observed across different
cultural fields or whether, on the contrary, the evolution of appeal is field-specific.
The rest of the article is organized as follows. First, celebrity is conceptualized and the
brand personality literature is reviewed to hypothesize the effects of personality dimensions
on celebrities' appeal. The 'lifecycle' of appeal is also hypothesized. Second, empirical data
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4 http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/celebrity-news/really-betty-white-named-americas-most-appealing-
celebrity/article10982312/
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collected from EPoll Market Research are described. Third, we present in detail the results
highlighting what makes celebrities appealing and how appeal evolves over time and across
cultural fields. Finally, results are discussed and implications are proposed.
Theoretical background
Celebrity and celebrities
Although celebrities are widely addressed in the literature (e.g., Agrawal and Kamakura,
1995; Goldsmith, Lafferty and Newell, 2000; Newman, Diesendruck and Bloom, 2011;
Tanner and Maeng, 2012), what they embody is surprisingly rarely defined. Celebrities are
here seen as part of the social elite who engage in the public relations machine of television
and movie roles, special event appearances, and talk show and gossip magazine placements
(McCracken, 1986). As such, celebrities are often admired, especially by young consumers,
who borrow from such celebrities for their identity construction (Boon and Lomore, 2001).
They constitute inspirational figures and comparative referents, and are sometimes considered
heroes, providing the high standards of achievement to which consumers aspire (Escalas and
Bettman, 2003). This view of celebrities as heroes has received some support from academics
(Bromnick and Swallow, 1999), O'Guinn (1991) even showing that celebrities perform some
of the functions of gods.
However, Shuart (2007) proposed a clear distinction between celebrities and heroes: being
a celebrity derives from fame only, while being a hero implies specific qualities, such as
being a distinguished person, admired for her/his ability, bravery or noble quality. This view
of celebrity is in line with that of Boorstin (1961), who considered it to be a function of “well-
knownness.” This view of celebrity as a function of fame is widely supported, with most
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research suggesting that it entails being famous beyond a restricted field of endeavor
(Gamson, 1994; McCracken, 1989; Turner, 2014).
However, seeing celebrity as only a function of well-knownness might not be appropriate.
So what turns a famous person into a celebrity? The main explanation might be "narrative"
(Gabler, 2001; Escalas, 2004). In other words, celebrity is constructed largely via stories that
appear in the mainstream media and that are reacted to by fans and end-consumers (Fournier,
2010). This importance of narratives is consistent with Dyer’s (1998) view of stardom
whereby "stardom is an image of the way stars live (…) that combines the spectacular with
the everyday, the special with the ordinary" (p. 35). According to the author – who mainly
focuses on film stars – celebrities are constructed as extraordinary or special, thanks to their
talents, and yet at the same time like us, 'ordinary'. Placing narratives at the core of the
celebrity construction process implies that celebrities are produced not only by the media
industries but also by the audience (Dyer, 2004). For instance, regarding movie stars
specifically, Hollywood and related agencies control the stars' films, their promotion,
portraits, press releases and fan clubs, and also, thanks to connections with other media
industries, information about them in newspapers, magazines, interviews, clips, etc. All this
control over the information supplied about the professional and public lives of stars ensures
an appealing story-telling that contributes to the construction of celebrity.
The importance of narratives in the construction of celebrity is also consistent with the
view of Parmentier et al. (2013) who propose that celebrities must differentiate themselves
from other celebrities to get a clear positioning. Celebrities must establish points of
differentiation and “stand out” from their competitors. Being covered by the media and
having many aspects of their lives exposed to the widest audience seem a relevant way of
differentiating themselves from other celebrities. Due to mass media and an increased access
to digital media, celebrity has become far more attainable than movie stardom and is now
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achievable for ordinary people (McQuarrie, Miller, and Phillips, 2013). The above review of
celebrity and the importance of narratives suggest that celebrity must be disassociated from
reputations for beauty, talent, or accomplishments (Gabler 1998), as it no longer requires any
particular merit or ability (Gamson, 1994).
Celebrities as human brands
As suggested by Thomson (2006, p. 105), celebrities can be considered as human brands.
For instance, Schroeder (2005) considers a celebrity like Andy Warhol as a stunning example
of "an artist as brand". Also, Luo et al. (2010) view movie stars as branded components of
movies. Overall, what is acknowledged is that persons – which includes celebrities – who are
the subject of marketing, interpersonal, or inter-organizational communications can be
referred to as human brands or person brands (Close, Moulard and Monroe, 2011; Parmentier
et al., 2013).
Considering what precedes, the rationale behind this research is 1/ that celebrities can be
considered as human brand (see Thomson, 2006) and thus 2/ that a brand personality-based
framework can be used to assess the impact of the celebrities' personality on their appeal.
Drawing on the "Big Five" human personality structure (Norman, 1963), the brand
personality dimensions (Aaker, 1997) thus refer to “the set of human characteristics
associated with a brand” (Aaker, 1997, p. 347). As such, the brand personality includes the
five dimensions of sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness.
Although considering human beings like celebrities as brands and then using the brand
personality literature to appraise the influence of the appeal of such human beings may be
seen as a circulatory reasoning, we claim here that the personality brand literature is very well
suited to investigating the effects of celebrities' personality. This claim builds on our appraisal
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of celebrities as brands, and thus our appraisal of the personality of celebrity as a manufactured
construct rather than a human construct. It also builds on previous research on
anthropomorphism showing that consumers tend to ascribe human-like characteristics to
brands (Guthrie, 1993; Aggarwal and McGill, 2007). Since people tend to ascribe human
characteristics to brands, and because celebrities are humans that may be considered as brands
(Thomson, 2006), the brand personality literature that builds on the five-factor structure of
human personality (Goldberg, 1992) appears the most appealing framework.
Brand personality and celebrities' personalities
The first dimension of brand personality identified by Aaker (1997) is sophistication. A
sophisticated brand is one that is glamorous, charming or romantic. Applying the brand
personality to celebrities implies that a sophisticated celebrity would thus be one who is
perceived as glamorous, charming or romantic. This dimension of personality including
glamour, charm and romanticism may be close – although not equal – to what some call
physical attractiveness, which indeed correlates almost perfectly with these notions, such as
desirability to date (0.97) or marry (0.93) (Cunningham et al. 1990). Associations with
attractiveness are predominantly positive in tone (Hamermesh and Biddle, 1994), with
physical attractiveness stimulating attributions of desirable personality characteristics and
likeableness. For instance, individuals attribute more socially desirable personality traits, such
as friendliness and interestingness, to more attractive individuals (Dion, Berscheid, and
Walster, 1972). The positive effect of beauty goes beyond mere preference judgments to
influence behavior in a public goods game (Andreoni and Pétrie, 2008) and even in real world
earned incomes (Hamermesh and Biddle, 1994; Gergaud, Ginsburgh and Livat, 2012). This
positive effect of physical attractiveness is in line with the substantial body of literature
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showing a positive effect of physically attractive celebrities on advertising effectiveness
(Baker and Churchill, 1977; Kahle and Homer, 1985). Overall, the argument outlined above
suggests a positive effect of sophistication on celebrity appeal.
The second dimension of brand personality is sincerity, which represents the idea of being
down-to-earth and honest. Considering sincerity as a sub-dimension of trust (Crosby, Evans,
and Cowles, 1990) and trust as exerting positive effects on affect (e.g., Chaudhuri and
Holbrook, 2001; Sung and Kim, 2010), individuals who perceive celebrities as sincere may be
likely to develop positive affect toward them and perceive them as appealing. Along with this
view of positive effects of sincerity, research in the consumer arena shows that when
consumers perceive a marketing agent as insincere, with a highly accessible ulterior motive
underlying his/her behavior (e.g., a salesperson offering a compliment to a potential customer
before purchase), the effects of insincerity are resisted (Campbell and Kirmani, 2000). Also of
importance, research on social judgment suggests that people's judgments of others fall into
two areas, namely warmth and competence (Judd et al., 2005). These two emerge in varied
contexts, such as liked and disliked groups (Cuddy, Fiske, and Glick, 2007) or romantic
partner choices (Sinclair and Fehr, 2005). Since warmth judgments include perceptions of
sincerity (e.g., Aaker, 1997; Judd et al., 2005), and warmth positively affects liking (Barger
and Grandey, 2006), it may be likely that sincerity exerts positive effects on appeal. In other
words, celebrities perceived as sincere may be considered more appealing than those
perceived as insincere.
As people's judgments fall into the area of competence, it is no surprise that competence
defines another dimension of brand personality (Aaker, 1997). Brand personality competence
is captured by facets including traits of being reliable, intelligent and successful (Mæhle and
Shneor 2009), and suggests an effective capacity to get one's own way (Cuddy, Fiske, and
Glick, 2007). Recent work on fundamental human needs suggests that if an object is
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responsive to a person's needs for competence, intense attachment may result (Deci and Ryan,
2000). As such, brands that are perceived as competent and fulfilling consumers’ needs
prompt more attachment than brands perceived as incompetent (Thomson, 2006). Applied to
celebrities, this may suggest that those being perceived as competent may lead to more
attachment and higher appeal scores.
Brand personality also involves excitement, which connotes notions of energy and activity.
Research provides consistent support for the notion that excitement is a characteristic that
people value. For instance, research on mate selection suggests that excitement is one of the
most desired characteristics (Buss and Barnes, 1986) and contributes to unique experiences
and interesting interactions (Li et al., 2002). Applied to people perception, these results
suggest that the more people attribute excitement to a celebrity, the more the celebrity will be
perceived as appealing.
Finally, brand personality includes the dimension of ruggedness. Ruggedness refers to
notions of toughness and strength, and is also indicative of a strict personality (Mæhle and
Shneor, 2009). This dimension has not proven valid since not systematically detected in
cross-national studies. For instance, in Spain and Japan, Aaker et al. (2001) did not find
evidence for this dimension and replaced it with peacefulness. The construct validity – i.e.,
the degree to which elements of its assessment instrument are relevant to and representative of
the targeted construct (Peter, 1981) – of the ruggedness dimension thus appears questionable.
Considering this lack of validity, we followed the procedure of Aaker et al. (2001) and
replaced the ruggedness dimension with one that appears close in content, rudeness. In
accordance with the original notions of a tough, strong and strict personality that were salient
in the dimension of ruggedness, rudeness in the social judgment literature refers to an
insensitive behavior enacted by a person who displays a lack of regard for others (Pearson and
Porath, 2005; Porath and Erez, 2007). These rude actions can be verbal or nonverbal, and may
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include the violation of norms of mutual respect (e.g., sexist comments, racial slurs) (Porath,
Macinnis and Folkes, 2010). Examples of rude behaviors from celebrities are common. For
instance, Batman star Christian Bale is known for having made little girls cry5. Actor Mel
Gibson, having separated from his girlfriend, has been accused of breaking her front teeth
with a blow that glanced off her jaw and grazed the chin of their infant daughter6. The fairness
and justice literatures clearly suggest that people witnessing rudeness are affected when others
are treated unfairly, and may punish perpetrators (Kahneman, Knetsch, and Thaler, 1986;
O’Gorman, Wilson, and Miller, 2005). Thus, we expect rudeness to deteriorate appeal scores
of celebrities.
Overall, in view of what precedes we hypothesize the following:
Hypothesis 1: Appeal will be positively impacted by sophistication (H1a), sincerity
(H1b), competence (H1c), and excitement (H1d), while it will be negatively impacted
by perceived rudeness (H1e).
Categorization and celebrity appeal across cultural fields
As noted by Holmes (2004), celebrities can be found in very different fields such as, but
not limited to, TV, music, cinema and sports. Some celebrities even exert their talent in more
than one field (e.g. Jennifer Lopez who is known as both a singer and an actress). What is
posited here is that the personality of a celebrity may affect his/her appeal differently
according to his/her cultural field. Research on categorization suggests that a two-step process
may account for the determinants of celebrity appeal across cultural fields. Research shows
that when people encounter a target person – like a celebrity – within a social interaction
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5 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2152796/Christian-Bales-publicist-claims-Batman-star-little-girls-
sensational-new-book.html
6 http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-07-16/entertainment/chi-100716-mel-gibson-punch-oksana-grigorieva-
photo_1_robyn-gibson-extortion-teeth
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episode, they first categorize the person on the basis of salient characteristics (e.g.,
sophistication) (Macrae and Bodenhausen, 2001; Macrae, Bodenhausen and Milne, 1995).
The term category is used here to describe the whole set of information that perceivers have in
mind about various groups of individuals (e.g., Italians, doctors, etc.). Once this
categorization is made, features associated with the category are activated, and the observer is
likely to rely on these category-based expectations when judging the target (Reinhard,
Messner and Sporer, 2006). For instance, in the case of political leaders, their appeal will
depend on how much their personality fits with the context (Bem and Funder, 1978). As a
result, when judging a celebrity, people may first appraise his/her salient attributes – like
sophistication, sincerity or rudeness – and then rate the importance of these attributes
depending on the field the celebrity belongs to. For instance, an individual being exposed to a
movie celebrity may first rate their sophistication, and will then consider this attribute
according to its relevance to the field considered. Thus, the effects of sophistication, sincerity,
competence, excitement and rudeness on celebrity appeal must be analyzed across fields. This
reasoning is supported by Parmentier et al. (2013) who posit that person brands must “fit in”
with the expectations of the field. Celebrities must learn about and comply with the field’s
values. This suggests that a fit is required between the values that the celebrity exhibits and
the values the field expects. Personality is thus crucial in that it may communicate about the
celebrity’s values.
Specifically, it seems straightforward that sincerity, competence and excitement may have
a positive effect and rudeness a negative effect for celebrities of all fields. Specifically
regarding sincerity, Dyer (2004 ) highlights its value arguing that "there is a rhetoric of
sincerity or authenticity, two qualities greatly prized in stars because they guarantee,
respectively, that the star really means what he or she says, and that the star really is what she
or he appears to be" (p. 10). All celebrities, from those in the cinema and TV industries to
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those in the sport and music industries, may thus gain in appeal if they are perceived sincere.
Regarding competence – the demonstration of the ability to perform well productive activities
valued within the field (Parmentier, 2012) – this dimension might as well have positive
effects according for celebrities of all fields. In a study of the soccer player David Beckham,
Parmentier (2012) identifies competence as a main contributory factor to the emergence of a
powerful human brand, thus suggesting that competence may be a powerful factor of appeal.
Beyond the mere field of sport, such a dimension of competence might explain the appeal of
celebrities of other field. For instance, an actor that performs well in either blockbusters or
movies with lower commercial success might be recognized as competent, such competence
leading to increases in his or her appeal. Thus, competence is hypothesized to exert a positive
impact for celebrities from all fields. Turning now to excitement, as this dimension connotes
the valued notions of sociability, energy, and activity, it may exert positive effects
independently of the field. The same rationale applies for rudeness which, unlike excitement,
is not valued and may exert negative effects on appeal for celebrities of all fields.
However, it is here suggested that sophistication may exert different impacts on appeal
according to the field under consideration. Sophistication refers to observable attributes like
glamour, and charm, and it may be a personality dimension of interest for celebrities who
belong to a cultural field where observable cues are valued. This proposition finds some
theoretical support in that the attractiveness of endorsers has different effects according to
whether the brand is related to physical appearance. For instance, Kamins (1990) showed that
for an attractiveness-related product, using a physically attractive celebrity significantly
enhances attitude towards an ad, while it has no effect for an attractiveness-unrelated product.
Thus, since TV and cinema are two fields where observable cues might be particularly valued,
sophistication is likely to contribute to a celebrity's appeal in these particular fields. However,
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this effect may not hold for celebrities from the music and sport fields, where what matters
more might be the notion of performance.
Considering the above, it is proposed that:
Hypothesis 2: Some determinants of appeal will vary according to the cultural field (TV,
music, sport, cinema). More specifically, whatever the cultural field, sincerity,
competence, and excitement will exert a positive effect on appeal and rudeness will exert a
negative effect (H2a). Sophistication will exert a lower positive effect in music and sports
(H2b).
Celebrity appeal over time
Research suggests that over time, as heroes retire and disappear from the spotlight, their
appeal begins to increase, even more than when they were performing (Shuart, 2007). Given
that celebrities are often considered heroes (e.g., Bromnick and Swallow, 1999; Escalas and
Bettman, 2003), their appeal might increase over time. However, heroes are quite different
from regular celebrities in that a hero refers to 'one who succeeds' while celebrities are just
'famous persons' (Shuart, 2007, p. 128) with no condition of high performance required. Thus,
the increase in the appeal of heroes over time may not hold for all celebrities, who can be
either successful or unsuccessful persons.
What is argued here is that the dilution or enhancement of appeal may depend on the field
of the celebrity, with the evolution of appeal over time following different patterns according
to whether the celebrity is involved in the TV, music, sport or cinema industry. For instance,
one may argue that the appeal of a famous athlete may depend on his/her performance.
Considering that physical abilities and performance usually decrease over time, the appeal of
athletes may thus decrease steadily over time. On the contrary, this decline in appeal may not
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hold in music and cinema since performance may not erode but rather remain stable or even
increase with experience.
Turning to the evolution of appeal of celebrities in the TV industry, research has showed
that mere exposure to others can produce feelings of attraction (Moreland and Zajonc, 1982).
The mere repeated exposure of social stimuli, such as names (Harrison, Tutone and
McFadgen, 1971) and photographs (Hamm, Baum and Nikels, 1975), enhances subjects’
feelings of attraction towards the people those stimuli refer to. Considering 1/ this effect of
mere exposure and 2/ the characteristics of TV as a media form enhancing people’s exposure
to celebrities, the appeal of TV celebrities is likely to increase over time. This hypothesis is in
line with what Luo et al. (2010) discovered, which was that regular exposure is needed for the
equity status of the celebrity not to erode over time.
Given the overall exposure of celebrities and the effect of mere exposure, their appeal may
increase over time, but more significantly in the TV industry, and not in the sport industry.
Thus, it is proposed that:
Hypothesis 3: Overall, appeal will increase over time (H3a). More specifically, the appeal
of TV celebrities (H3b) will increase over time, while appeal will remain stable for music
(H3c) and movie (H3d) celebrities, and will decrease for sport celebrities (H3e).
Empirical study
Data
Our data are based on surveys conducted by Epoll Market Research, a firm based in Los
Angeles, California, that launched its first panel in 1997. Epoll has an online proprietary panel
used for E-Score Celebrity surveys and more generally to assess the image of culture-related
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people or brands. To become a member and be given the right to judge celebrities,
respondents must register on the Epoll website and provide contact information as well as
demographic data (see Epoll.com for recruitment and panel management information). Today,
two hundred and fifty thousand “judges” are registered in the United States, making the panel
nationally representative in terms of ethnic background (African American, Asian, Caucasian,
Latin American, Native, Other), income groups, gender, marital status, regions (South, North
East, Midwest, West, South), education, age (for 13 year-old at least), type of employment
(part time, homemaker, full time, seeking for a job, retired, not employed), type of activity
(accounting, etc.). Importantly, any panel member (i.e. judge) cannot ask to participate in
some research but is contacted by Epoll. The market research company monitors how
frequently respondents are recruited as well as the length of the survey and makes sure that no
judge evaluates more than 25 celebrities during a single survey. Rather, judges are randomly
selected to participate and receive point incentives to reward their selection and participation
in surveys. These points can be traded in for gift cards at major retailers. This quality policy
makes Epoll a well-established market research company.whose data are used by both
important actors from the media and entertainment industries (Forbes magazine for instance)
and academics (for instance, Tuten, 2005).
We now turn to the database used in this research. It contains 6,175 celebrities and each
has been assessed one or several times between 2003 and 2011. The assessment procedure
works as follows. Each “survey” which informs us about the popularity, appeal and potential
determinants (see below) of a given celebrity at a given period of time, is administered to
1,100 judges. However, the number of judges varies substantially between celebrities as not
all of them are known by all judges7. Each judge is supposed to evaluate 25 celebrities. For
each assessment, judges are asked to choose as many attributes as (s)he wishes from a list of
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7 Judges are invited to evaluate another celebrity when they declare they are not familiar with the celebrity they are
asked to judge.
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46 (see Appendix 1). In order to eliminate the possible effect of the total number of judges,
these numbers are translated into percentages. For instance, instead of giving the number of
times judges have chosen the term "charming" to evaluate George Clooney, the database
reports that 43% of respondents judge George Clooney to be "charming". Also, we decided to
discard aggregate judgments made by less than 100 judges. A high percentage is an indicator
of the intensity with which each of these attributes is chosen by judges.
This research is based on each celebrity's most recent survey available in the Epoll
database. Focusing on the most recent survey allows us to control for the effect of time on the
intensity with which celebrities are judged appealing or not, all other things being equal. The
resulting sample is made up of 3,117 celebrities (one survey per celebrity). The most frequent
occupations found in the Epoll database are, in decreasing order, TV (39.17%), cinema
(20.55%), music (14.94%), and sports (10.94%). The full list of occupations is found in Table
1 below.
18
Table 1
Number of celebrities – breakdown by cultural field
Activities – Epoll N % Cum. Field % / Field
Business person 41 1.3 13.07 Business 1.3
Film Personality - Actor 623 19.76 4.28 Cinema 2.55
Film Producer/Director 25 .79 41.07 Cinema
Fashion - Designer 20 .63 18.97 Fashion 2.18
Fashion - Model 49 1.55 2.52 Fashion
Comedian 123 3.9 18.33 LPA8 4.31
Magician 5 .16 42.40 LPA
Stage Performer 8 .25 6.83 LPA
Internet Celebrity 3 .1 41.83 Media 1.14
Journalist 13 .41 42.25 Media
Radio Personality 20 .63 6.58 Media
Musician 471 14.94 57.34 Music 14.94
Celebrity Baby 7 .22 13.29 Other 1.14
First Lady 8 .25 41.33 Other
Other 21 .67 58.01 Other
Politician 61 1.93 59.94 Politics 1.93
Athlete 345 1.94 1.94 Sport 12.49
Coach 36 1.14 14.43 Sport
Health & Fitness Expert 13 .41 41.74 Sport
TV Personality 1,225 38.85 99.68 TV 39.17
TV Producer/Director 7 .22 99.90 TV
TV Screenwriter 3 .1 10.00 TV

8 Live Performing Arts
19
Measures of personality and appeal
The five dimensions of personality were captured using multi-attribute (qualifying terms)
measures. For each measure, we based our decisions on two criteria, the content similarity
and the empirical results of factor analyses. Also, we ensured that each measure was
unidimensional with single eigenvalues greater than 1 (Hair et al. 2005). Sophistication is
captured by 6 attributes: 'beautiful,' 'attractive,' 'glamorous,' 'sexy,' 'stylish' and 'cute' (α = .96).
Sincerity is compiled from 5 attributes: 'trustworthy,' 'sincere,' 'good listener,' 'compassionate'
and 'can identify with' (α = .89). Competence is based upon 3 attributes: 'experienced,'
'intelligent,' and 'interesting' (α = .81). Excitement is measured with the following three
attributes: 'exciting,' 'dynamic' and 'good energy' (α = .80). Last, the four attributes measuring
rudeness are 'mean,' 'rude,' 'cold' and 'creepy' (α = .87). For each dimension of personality, an
index was formed from the mean of their respective attributes. These indexes will serve as
variables and be included in further analyses. Turning to appeal as the dependent variable, the
single attribute 'appealing' was used. As for the other variables, this measure represents the
percentage of judges that used this attribute to appraise a celebrity.
Discriminant validity was assessed following Fornell and Larcker (1981) who suggest that
for discriminant validity to be proven, the average variance extracted for each construct must
be higher than the squared correlation between that construct and any other construct. All
measures exhibit discriminant validity. Convergent validity is also supported as the average
variance extracted clearly exceeds 0.50 for all variables (Hair et al., 2005).
Table 2 provides a description of the various measures used in this analysis and of their
psychometric properties. Table 3 provides evidence for the convergent and discriminant
validities. Table 4 describes the data.
20
Table 2
Description and psychometric properties of the measures of celebrities' personalities and
appeal
Personality
Dimension
Items Loadings Extracted
Variance
Eigenvalue Reliability
(α)
Sophistication Beautiful .94 78.98% 4.74 .96
Attractive .94
Glamorous .91
Sexy .92
Stylish .87
Cute .71
Sincerity Trustworthy .92 70.49% 3.52 .89
Sincere .93
Good listener .82
Compassionate .85
Can identify
with
.61
Competence Experienced .83 74.60% 2.24 .81
Intelligent .91
Interesting .83
Excitement Exciting .83 73.12% 2.19 .80
Dynamic .90
Good energy .83
Rudeness Mean .92 76.01% 3.04 .87
Rude .91
Cold .88
Creepy .75
Appeal Appealing - - - -
Table 3
Squared correlations matrix
Sophistication Sincerity Competence Excitement Rudeness
Sophistication .78
Sincerity .00 .70
Competence .06 .43 .74
Excitement .00 .05 .08 .73
Rudeness .09 .10 .03 .07 .76
Note: Average variance extracted appears in diagonal.
21
Table 4
Descriptive Statistics (sample size: 3,117 celebrities)
Variable Mean Std. Dev. Min Max
Appeal score .5 .14 .03 .87
Sophistication 13.03 11.4 .17 52.83
Sincerity 8.44 4.72 .6 32.8
Competence 23.3 9.06 2 57
Excitement 15.55 5.55 1 57
Rudeness 3.64 4.62 0 44.5
22
Estimation procedure
Our goal here is to model , the proportion of survey respondents who consider celebrity i
appealing as a function of a vector of explanatory variables . 9 This vector includes the 5
dimensions of personality that were detected from the principal component analysis
conducted above (sophistication, sincerity, competence, excitement and rudeness), a set of
occupation dummies, as well as a series of 17 semester dummies which inform us about the
number of semesters of presence of celebrity i in the Epoll database.
The usual linear regression models assume that data come from a normal distribution with
the mean related to its predictors (∼
,  and  ). However, there are obvious
occasions when a normal distribution is inappropriate. Proportions fall into this category as
they are, by construction, constrained between 0 and 1. Considering this, we followed Hardin
and Hilbe (2007) and adopted a Generalized Linear Model (GLM) approach. This approach is
a flexible generalization of ordinary least squares which is, among others, designed to model
how the mean proportion relates to the set of explanatory variables (see Nelder and
Wedderburn, 1972). In GLM, each outcome of the dependent variable is assumed to be
generated from a particular distribution in the exponential family10 (∼
, ), and a link
function provides the relationship between the linear predictor and the mean of the
distribution function (  ).
The expected proportion of appeal for celebrity i, p, may be modeled using a binomial
distribution. There are several popular link functions for the binomial distribution, the most
popular being the canonical logit link:  ln/1  ).11

9 In this theoretical setup, X covers all right-hand side variables.
10 These include the binomial, gamma, inverse gaussian, negative binomial, poisson and gaussian distributions.
11 Alternative choices for the link function in the case of a binomial distribution include the probit and complementary
log-log functions.
23
We first estimate the model on the full sample made up of 3,117 surveys-celebrities. In this
case, appeal scores are explained by the 5 dimensions of personality and we also control for
time and occupation fixed-effects. We then estimate a series of four equations, for those
occupations (or cultural fields) which account for more than 10% of the total sample size as
follows: TV (1,235 celebrities), music (471 celebrities), sport (394 celebrities) and cinema
(648 celebrities).These four regressions include time fixed-effects. The large number of
observations available allows us to use semester dummies instead of year dummies for a
better approximation of the effect of time on appeal. These coefficients, as well as their z-
statistics, are given in Appendix. Estimation results are presented in Table 5.
Estimation results
Impact of the various personality traits on appeal
Equation 1 shows that sophistication (β = .004, t = 10.23, p < .001), sincerity (β = .008, t =
6.44, p < .001), competence (β = .010, t = 13.80, p < .001) and excitement (β = .019, t =
21.46, p < .001) all exert a positive impact on appeal. On the contrary, and as expected,
rudeness has a negative impact on appeal (β = -.034, t = 26.50, p < .001). These results are in
line with H1a, H1b, H1c, H1d and H1e.
24
Table 5
GLM regression results for determinants of celebrity appeal
Equation 1 Equation 2 Equation 3 Equation 4 Equation 5
All TV Music Sport Cinema
Sophistication .004*** .004*** .004*** .003 .004***
(1.231) (6.303) (3.865) (1.714) (5.426)
Sincerity .008*** .004 .020*** .012** .011***
(6.445) (1.848) (6.281) (2.650) (4.392)
Competence .010*** .008*** .016*** .008*** .013***
(13.800) (7.399) (7.116) (3.631) (1.606)
Excitement .019*** .018*** .015*** .016*** .022***
(21.459) (12.201) (7.082) (8.424) (1.810)
Rudeness -.034*** -.042*** -.026*** -.033*** -.034***
(-26.503) (-16.126) (-9.854) (-13.512) (-1.054)
TV .069
(1.317)
LPA .161**
(2.914)
Media -.060
(-.959)
Politics -.188**
(-3.158)
Music -.018
(-.341)
Sport -.034
(-.638)
Cinema .131*
(2.515)
Fashion -.051
(-.893)
Business -.147*
(-2.383)
Time fixed-effects YES YES YES YES YES
Constant -.654*** -.487*** -.810*** -.591*** -.669***
(-11.840) (-14.166) (-15.606) (-1.249) (-15.800)
Obs. 3,117 1,235 471 394 648
.
Robust z-statistics in parentheses; *** p < .001, ** p < .01, * p < .05;
GLM Estimates are derived using a canonical logit link
and a binomial distribution. 'Other' is the reference occupation here.
25
Effects of personality on appeal across fields (Hypothesis 2)
Equations 2, 3, 4 and 5 reveal that the effects of competence, excitement (positive) and
rudeness (negative) are consistent across the four main fields, supporting H2a. Although not
hypothesized, it is interesting to note that excitement gets the largest effect for movie
celebrities. The series of Wald tests presented in Table 6 for excitement indeed indicates that
the magnitude of this effect is significantly lower for musicians (χ² = 5.52, p = .018) and
athletes (χ² = 4.72, p = .029). What this result suggests is that actors who exhibit an exciting
personality in their movies may gain more appeal than exciting celebrities from other fields.
Also, while H2a hypothesized a positive effect of sincerity for movie personalities, our
results show that this dimension has no significant impact on the level of appeal of TV
personalities (β = .004, t = 1.848, p > .05). H2a is thus not fully supported
Focusing now on H2b and sophistication, its positive effect on appeal holds for TV
personalities (β = .004, t = 6.303, p < .001), musicians (β = .004, t = 3.865, p < .001) and
movie personalities (β = .004, t = 5.426, p < .001), but does not for famous athletes (β = .003,
t = 1.714, p > .05). Interestingly, and although unexpected, sophistication exerts a positive
effect on appeal for musicians. As shown in Table 6, the effect of sophistication does not vary
significantly from one field to another, leading to the conclusion that sophistication has a
consistent positive effect on appeal across occupations. Considering this significant effect of
sophistication on appeal in the music industry, H2b is thus only partially supported.
26
Table 6
Wald tests of equality coefficients across cultural fields (occupations)
Null
hypothesis
Cinema
= Music
= Sport =
TV
TV
=
Music
TV
=
Sport
TV
=
Cinema
Music
=
Sport
Music
=
Cinema
Sport
=
Cinema
Sophistication .74 .02 .59 .10 .61 .14 .35
(.864) (.883) (.440) (.753) (.434) (.708) (.554)
Sincerity 2.47** 19.25** 2.89+ 5.21* 2.10 5.27* .06
(.000) (.000) (.089) (.022) (.147) (.021) (.813)
Competence 14.01** 9.67** .00 6.73** 6.20* 2.04 2.88+
(.002) (.002) (.969) (.009) (.012) (.153) (.089)
Excitement 7.15+ 1.98 1.34 1.59 .09 5.52* 4.72*
(.067) (.159) (.247) (.207) (.758) (.018) (.029)
Rudeness 17.85** 17.73** 5.86* 3.12+ 3.74+ 3.49+ .07
(.000) (.000) (.015) (.077) (.053) (.062) (.797)
Note: **, *, + H0 is rejected at the 1%, 5% and 10% levels respectively.
27
Evolution of fame over time (Hypothesis 3)
We now turn to the analysis of celebrities’ appeal over time. We present the results for the
various coefficients and z-statistics obtained for the time dummies of the five equations
estimated above. The coefficients and z-statistics for equation 1 are plotted in Figure 1 and
reported in Table 7. The first result of interest is that the evolution of appeal is not constant
over time but clearly nonlinear. Appeal scores are significantly higher when the celebrity
blooms and appears for the first time in the Epoll database. Then his/her fame starts
decreasing for about two years and increases again after five semesters of presence in the
database (which is a proxy for appearance in the media) (β = .00; Z = .23). Appeal scores are
maximum at around sixteen semesters (β = .13; Z = 5.91), or seven to eight years after their
first appearance in the database. Overall, appeal scores exhibit a positive trend, which
supports H3a.
The evolution of the phenomenon is nonlinear but varies substantially across cultural fields
(see Table 7 and Figure 2). As hypothesized (H3b), the appeal of TV personalities increases
steadily over time, and more specifically after 4 semesters (β = .03; Z = 1.07) and until 16
semesters (β = .18; Z = 4.52) of presence in the database. As expected, appeal scores of
musicians appear quite stable over time, suggesting consistent tastes over time and supporting
H3c. However, appeal scores of movie personalities increase steadily over time which goes
against H3d. This is especially true after 5 semesters (β = .00; Z =.01) and until 16 semesters
(β = .20; Z = 6.25) of presence in the database. Finally, and in line with H3e, appeal scores of
athletes are found to decrease steadily over time (from semester 1 (β = .20; Z = 5.04) to
semester 17 (β = -.04; Z = -.33)). This pattern is consistent with the fact that physical ability
deteriorates with age (Hoeymans et al. 1997).
28
Table 7
Appeal scores over time (breakdown by occupation)
Equation 1 Equation 2 Equation 3 Equation 4 Equation 5
Semester β Appeal Z Appeal β TV Z TV β Music Z Music β Sport Z Sport β Cinema Z Cinema
1 .13*** 5.15 .11 1.78 .11* 2.09 .20*** 5.04 .08* 2.06
2 .03 1.72 .07* 2.1 .06 1.49 .14 1.95 .03 1.03
3 .04* 2.03 .09* 2.54 -.01 -.21 -.04 -.81 .08* 2.07
4 .04* 2.53 .03 1.07 .04 1.06 .05 1.05 .05 1.42
5 .00 .23 .04 1.62 .02 .59 .06 .56 .00 .01
6 .04 1.81 .06 1.63 .04 .92 .06 1.56 .03 .79
7 .09*** 4.58 .11*** 3.37 .06 1.81 -.00 -.13 .12** 3.03
8 .07*** 3.64 .09*** 2.84 -.01 -.21 .10 1.61 .10** 2.75
9 .08*** 4.26 .10*** 3.57 .09 1.64 .09** 2.79 .07 1.85
10 .10*** 6.00 .12*** 3.69 .10* 2.56 .09** 2.93 .12*** 4.1
11 .08*** 4.63 .11*** 3.8 .04 1.28 .02 .6 .10*** 3.48
12 .10*** 6.71 .14*** 5.52 -.00 -.08 .05 1.19 .13*** 4.92
13 .08*** 4.95 .08*** 3.33 .02 .57 .05 1.12 .14*** 4.65
14 .11*** 6.67 .16*** 6.31 -.03 -.61 .03 .62 .17*** 5.93
15 .12*** 7.24 .13*** 4.54 .04 1.2 -.02 -.46 .19*** 7.11
16 .13*** 5.91 .18*** 4.52 .06 1.28 .00 .25 .20*** 6.25
17 .09*** 3.38 .16*** 3.62 .07 1.76 -.04 -.33 .13*** 3.6
n 1,235 471 394 648
Robust z-statistics in parentheses; *** p<0.001, ** p<0.01, * p<0.05
29
Figure 1
Evolution of the phenomenon over time (all observations)
Figure 2
Evolution of the phenomenon over time (by category – Z-statistics)
0.05 .1 .15
0 5 10 15 20
# of semesters in Epoll
Estimated coeff. Local polynomial reg.
02468
0 5 10 15 20
# of semesters in Epoll
Z-statistics Local polynomial reg.
0 2 4 6 8
0 5 10 15 20
# of semesters in Epoll
Z-statistics (Cinema) Local polynomial reg.
-1 0 1 2 3
0 5 10 15 20
# of semesters in Epoll
Z-statistics (Music) Local polynomial reg.
-2 0 2 4 6
0 5 10 15 20
# of semesters in Epoll
Z-statistics (Sport) Local polynomial reg.
1 2 3 4 5 6
0 5 10 15 20
# of semesters in Epoll
Z-statistics (TV) Local polynomial reg.
30
Table 8
Summary of the hypotheses
Hypothesis 1
Hypothesis Independent
variable
Dependent
Variable
Expected effect Result
a Sophistication Appeal Positive Confirmed
b Sincerity Positive Confirmed
c Competence Positive Confirmed
d Excitement Positive Confirmed
e Rudeness Negative Confirmed
Hypothesis 2
Hypothesis Independent
variable
Dependent
Variable
Hypothesized
moderating
field(s)
Expected
IVDV
effect
Result
a Sincerity
Competence
Excitement
Rudeness
Appeal None Positive
Positive
Positive
Negative
Rejected
Confirmed
Confirmed
Confirmed
b Sophistication Appeal Music, sports Lower Partially
confirmed
Hypothesis 3
Hypothesis Time effect on appeal Field considered Result
a Positive - Confirmed
b Positive TV Confirmed
c None Music Confirmed
d None Movie Confirmed
e Negative Sport Rejected
31
Conclusion
The key findings of this research are threefold (Table 8). First, we identify the effects of
personality on celebrities’ appeal. Specifically, this research shows that appeal is positively
impacted by attributes that refer to sophistication, sincerity, competence and excitement. On
the contrary, appeal reacts negatively to perceived rudeness. Second, while some personality
traits exert a homogeneous influence across different occupations, some do not. For instance,
sophistication is found to have no effect for famous athletes, and sincerity is of no importance
for TV personalities. Third, a longitudinal analysis reveals that appeal overall increases over
time, but also that this trend is not homogeneous across fields. Our results indeed show that
the appeal of TV and movie personalities tends to increase over time, while this pattern does
not hold for 1/ famous musicians, whose scores tend to remain quite stable over time, and 2/
athletes whose appeal decreases almost steadily over the course of time.
Theoretical implications
This research investigates what makes celebrities appealing and thus focused on the
determinants of their appeal. By identifying four dimensions of personality as major sources
of appeal (namely sophistication, sincerity, competence and excitement), our model
contributes to the literature on celebrities in two ways. First, through our investigation of the
effects of personality on celebrities' appeal, we contribute to previous celebrity research
dealing with celebritisation (Kerrigan et al. 2011), that is the phenomenon occurring "when the
logic of celebrity is exploited as a mode of production in the service of economic calculation and
marketing ends" (p. 1510). While previous research on celebritisation is mainly qualitative in
essence (e.g., O’Guinn, 1991; Kerrigan et al. 2011), our quantitative approach shows how
four dimensions of personality contribute to make a celebrity appealing. In doing so, we
32
provide a novel understanding of how celebrities can enhance their appeal and better market
themselves. Specifically, our results show that sophistication, sincerity, competence and
excitement can contribute to the building of appealing celebrities and thus to the process of
celebritisation.
As previous literature focused primarily on documenting what could make celebrities
efficient endorsers (Erdogan, 1999), our second contribution lies in the identification we
provide of several personality dimensions that impact celebrities' appeal. While attractiveness
is considered the primary determinant of successful endorses (Choi and Rifon, 2012; Kahle
and Homer, 1985; Ohanian, 1990), we show that attractiveness is not the only dimension of
interest in selecting an endorser. Through our identification of other determinants of appeal
than the solely dimension of attractiveness, we provide new theoretical insights into what
makes potential successful endorsers. Precisely, considering their impact on appeal, the
dimensions of sincerity, competence and excitement might also represent attributes of interest
for brands in selecting endorsers. In this regard, further research is nevertheless needed to
investigate the impact of these dimensions on the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement
advertisements.
Managerial Implications
Our research provides both celebrities and their managers with a better understanding of what
makes them appealing and gives insight into strategies to enhance this sort of image capital.
Our results suggest that some personality dimensions are more likely to make celebrities
appealing. The consistent positive effect of sophistication, sincerity, competence and
excitement across fields suggests that celebrities can adopt different strategies to improve
their appeal through one or more of these dimensions. Although some dimensions may be
33
easier (but also more costly) to improve than others, there are many ways to look more
attractive, more sincere (i.e., generous, compassionate, down to earth, etc.) or more exciting.
For instance, sophistication can be enhanced through both natural methods – like training and
diet – and artificial ones – like surgery – that improve physical attractiveness.. Also,
celebrities can increase their sophistication and their subsequent appeal through their
associations with other sophisticated celebrities that they present themselves with. A celebrity
presenting her/himself with a sophisticated celebrity might indeed gain in appeal. Such a
strategy might also prove relevant when applied to some places or some cultural phenomena
which are also considered sophisticated. An actor experiencing a decline in his career might
gain for instance in presenting himself in a sophisticated sitcom, just as a singer could gain in
appeal if he is present at a sophisticated festival. Clearly, agents, PR, handlers and the media
have an important role here in helping celebrities choose the most appropriate and
sophisticated people to be presented with or the best places or shows to be seen in. Those
choices will contribute to the sophistication of celebrities and the shaping of their story.
Turning to sincerity, many celebrities engage in behaviors that provide a deep human view
of their personality. They might engage in charitable behavior, for instance, which can help in
being seen as full of sincerity, generosity and trust. Among many celebrities involved in
charities, Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie has been on field missions around the World
for more than ten years, meeting with refugees. In 2003 she was the first recipient of the
newly created Citizen of the World Award given out by the United Nations Correspondents
Association to those who have made a significant contribution for those who are in need
around the World12. It is very likely that such charitable behavior may help in making her
seen as appealing through the sincerity dimension.

12 https://www.looktothestars.org/celebrity/angelina-jolie
34
Conversely, some attributes have no effect, or even negative ones. Our results show that
perceived rudeness exerts a consistently negative effect on appeal across the different fields
considered here. This result is in line with previous examples of actors who have exhibited
rudeness on-set. For instance, after Christian Bale, the famous actor who screamed at director
of photography Shane Hurlbut on the set of Terminator Salvation in July 200813. He has also
been arrested for an alleged verbal assault against his mother and sister14. These rude
behaviors mean that he is now viewed as a celebrity with an anger-management problem. Our
results, as well as this example, suggest that celebrities must take care not to be perceived as
rude. Although one option for celebrities who are known – or likely – to exhibit rude
behaviors would be to hide from the mass media to keep their rudeness from the audience,
such an option is clearly not recommended as visibility is crucial for gaining celebrity. Thus, a
more relevant option would be to have an agent in charge of their image. Such public relations
agents exist and could prove to be of great interest for celebrities with behavioral problems.
By defining the right image celebrities should present to their audience, they would thus help
to maintain their appeal.
Importantly, as our results show that the effects of some attributes are of different
magnitudes across fields, this suggests that celebrities might consider ways of improving their
appeal, taking into consideration the specific features of their field. Also of importance are the
effects of sophistication and sincerity, which are not significant for athletes and TV
personalities respectively. These results suggest that celebrities may thus consider exhibiting
sophistication and sincerity, especially if they work in other industries than these two.
However, it must be noted that the strategies chosen for celebrities to enhance their appeal
must be undertaken in the light of any potential detriment to their authenticity. Consumers

13 http://www.accesshollywood.com/updated-audio-recording-surfaces-reportedly-featuring-christian-bale-lashing-out-
on-terminator-set_article_13378
14 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2167062/Christian-Bales-mother-sister-reveal-really-happened-
explosive-hotel-row--needs-stop-sulking-Batcave.html
35
exhibit an increased focus on authenticity, looking for authentic brands (Grayson and
Martinec, 2004; Beverland and Farrelly, 2010). Since celebrities may be seen as brands, they
must therefore keep in mind the potentially damaging impact that their quest for appeal may
have on their authenticity. To be perceived as authentic, celebrities must remain
unconventional and be seen to be going against the mainstream (Thornton, 1996). Objects or
brands that appear motivated by commercial considerations lack authenticity (Holt, 2002).
Thus, strategies that consist in switching from a well-established positioning to another one
that may at first sight be considered more appeal-inducing might prove to be unwise if they
are associated with commercial considerations and lead to a decrease in authenticity.
Turning to our dynamic model that examines how celebrities appeal varies over time, the
results show that appeal evolves differently over time and across fields. While the appeal of
popular musicians remains stable over time, the appeal of TV and movie stars increases
steadily for 16 semesters while the appeal of prominent athletes decreases steadily over the
course of time. These results suggest two important implications. First, TV and movie stars
have to be aware that their appeal is likely to decrease in the long run, so they must face the
fact that they need to find a way to renew their appeal. Considering the positive impact of
sophistication, sincerity, competence and excitement for the appeal of celebrities in the
cinema industry, it appears critical for those celebrities to work on these dimensions.
The second recommendation refers to the constant decrease in sport celebrities' appeal over
time. This decrease implies that sport celebrities are more likely than others to lose their
appeal in the long run. Considering the decrease in athletic performance of the human body as
it ages, one recommendation for athletes would be to switch to another field where their
appeal is not negatively affected by their declining athletic performance. In so doing, sport
celebrities may remain appealing on the basis of other personality dimensions like
sophistication or sincerity. This seems all the more interesting for such celebrities since their
36
years of training may have had positive effects on their sophistication, which is showed to
exert positive effects on appeal.
Limitations and Further Research
Our research is not without limitations. First, our appeal measure was a single item.
According to C-OAR-SE (Rossiter, 2002), when a concept is concrete – that is, it should not
be measured as being manifested or formed by other indirect concepts – it can be measured
with a single item. However, Freling, Crosno and Henard (2011) suggest that appeal is not a
concrete concept, but rather a complex one. Further research may thus benefit from assessing
appeal through a multiple item scale.
Second, our research relies on secondary data from an online poll. Such a method has some
limitations that need to be highlighted. First, the use of online polls provides no guarantee that
the measures needed to appraise our constructs are the most appropriate. Because such polls
are often conducted solely for the purposes of the agency and not for researchers, they
sometimes do not provide academics with the exact measures that are needed to appraise the
construct(s) that are of interest for their study. A second limitation of such poll lies in the
potential lack of consideration of some variables of potential interest. Thus, it may be the case
that some important determinants of appeal have not been considered here. An interesting
approach for further research would be to qualitatively explore the meaning of celebrity and
its determinants. Collecting qualitative data through interviews or ethnography may be helpful
to highlight some other variables of interest for a future quantitative data collection dealing
with the issue of celebrity appeal (Holbrook and O’Shaughnessy, 1988; Thompson, Locander,
and Pollio, 1989).
37
Also, it may be interesting to investigate the influence of personality not only across but
also inside cultural fields. Cultural fields may involve different disciplines with celebrities of
distinct personalities. For instance, in the sport industry, wrestlers or boxers might be seen as
rude athletes, while golfers might be seen as sophisticated ones. Since celebrities must “fit in”
with the expectations of their field and comply with the field’s values (Parmentier et al.,
2013), it might be that rude wrestlers are considered appealing but rude golfers may not be
considered so; also, sophisticated golfers may be perceived appealing, but rude golfers may
not. Thus, the personality dimensions may not only have different effects on appeal across
fields but also within fields. An investigation of personality effects among cultural fields may
thus bring more nuanced results and be of great interest for further research on celebrity
appeal.
Also, some differences might exist in the effect of personality and time between
performing celebrities (actors, singers, TV stars) and cultural celebrities (artists, politicians,
CEO's …). As the current sample is mainly composed of performing celebrities, these
differences were not examined in this paper and remain a promising area for further research.
Another avenue of research would be working on panel data to analyze more deeply the
lifecycle of celebrities' appeal. Our data from Epoll did not allow such a panel approach that
requires collecting data for a given celebrity at different times. However, this represents a
promising avenue for further research dealing with the appeal of celebrities over time.
Finally, because our secondary data were collected exclusively among Americans, the
present research examines the determinants of appeal in a particular cultural context. Relying
on secondary data may present some pitfalls in cultural research (Atkinson and Brandolini,
2001). For instance, their use does not allow comparing the appeal of celebrities from
different cultures, nor does it allow comparing how people from different cultures perceive
they appeal of given celebrities. Such a cultural approach may be of help to understand the
38
appeal of celebrities. In line with McCracken (1989), it is likely that a given celebrity may
have a different appeal depending on the cultural context of his/her professional performance.
Hence, further research should address the effect of culture on celebrities' appeal.
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Appendix 1
The 46 attributes used by Epoll Market Research for rating celebrities.
Activist, aggressive, approachable, articulate, attractive, beautiful, boring, can identify with,
charming, classy, cold, compassionate, confident, creepy, cute, distinctive voice, down-to-
earth, dynamic, emotional, exciting, experienced, funny, glamorous, good energy, good
listener, handsome, impartial, influential, insincere, intelligent, interesting, intriguing,
kooky/wacky, mean, over-exposed, physically-fit, rude, sexy, sincere, stylish, talented, trend-
setter, trustworthy, unique, versatile and warm.
... Research on social judgment suggests that people's judgments of others fall into two dimensions of social perception or what is referred to as power dimensions in the paper, warmth and competence (Lunardo et al., 2015). Fiske et al. (2002) maps out how people perceive social groups in these two dimensions and how they employ these dimensions to guide their decisions about and interactions with brands and other people (Kervyn et al., 2012). ...
... Warmth has been defined as taking actions in the best interests of the public such as socially-responsible corporate actions and support of social programs (Fournier & Alvarez, 2012, p. 182). Warmth can also be described as one's intentions toward and relationships with others, encompassing characteristics such as cooperativeness and respectfulness (Fragale et al., 2011) and including perceptions of sincerity (Lunardo et al., 2015); while competence can be described as one's ability or capability (Fournier & Alvarez, 2012), with brand personality competence being captured by the traits of reliability, intelligence and success (Lunardo et al., 2015). The perceived lack of these dimensions causes consumers to behave unfavourably toward their partner: the celebrity or the brand (Figure 1). ...
... Warmth has been defined as taking actions in the best interests of the public such as socially-responsible corporate actions and support of social programs (Fournier & Alvarez, 2012, p. 182). Warmth can also be described as one's intentions toward and relationships with others, encompassing characteristics such as cooperativeness and respectfulness (Fragale et al., 2011) and including perceptions of sincerity (Lunardo et al., 2015); while competence can be described as one's ability or capability (Fournier & Alvarez, 2012), with brand personality competence being captured by the traits of reliability, intelligence and success (Lunardo et al., 2015). The perceived lack of these dimensions causes consumers to behave unfavourably toward their partner: the celebrity or the brand (Figure 1). ...
Article
Celebrities and brands have been perceived to be more powerful in the consumer-celebrity-brand relationship. Of late, this power balance has been reversed with the presence of social media allowing consumers to wield this tool over celebrities and brands in the wake of a negative episode, such as an objectionable and controversial incident. This causes celebrities and brands, referred to as the influence target, to be cancelled. The power within relationships theory is used to examine the consumer cancel culture framework. A lack in power dimensions such as warmth and competence cause consumers to experience a decline in their attachment, resulting in cancelling the influence targets more so if the attachment style exhibited by the consumer is anxious and avoidant. This is the first paper in consumer-behaviour to explore this phenomenon from an academic perspective and has practical implications for protecting celebrities and brands from cancel episodes.
... Sports celebrities' lifestyle enhances fan loyalty (Mahmoudian et al., 2021), and their attractiveness to consumers (Erdogan, 1999;Seimien_ e and Jankovi c, 2014;Zafar et al., 2021) who can identify with the athletes due to the perception that they are highly reputable and distinctive (Carlson and Donavan, 2017). Studies have found that the dimensions related to sincerity, competence and excitement positively influence the athletes' appeal, while rudeness has a negative influence (Lunardo et al., 2015). People relate to sports celebrities in an aspirational or inspirational way (Dumitriu, 2015) by dreaming of being like their heroes. ...
... As such, this asset should be strategically managed to create and reinforce a positive lifestyle image. As human brands, celebrities need to differentiate themselves from their competitors (Parmentier et al., 2013), and their public lives constitute an appealing story that could be used for that purpose (Lunardo et al., 2015). Moreover, the appeal of celebrity athletes tends to constantly decrease over time (Lunardo et al., 2015) and thus needs to be managed to avoid this loss of image capital. ...
... As human brands, celebrities need to differentiate themselves from their competitors (Parmentier et al., 2013), and their public lives constitute an appealing story that could be used for that purpose (Lunardo et al., 2015). Moreover, the appeal of celebrity athletes tends to constantly decrease over time (Lunardo et al., 2015) and thus needs to be managed to avoid this loss of image capital. A study with elite athletes shows the inexistence of a strategic plan to support their social media activities (Geurin, 2017). ...
Article
Purpose In this study, we empirically analyse the effects of sports celebrities' image on consumers' engagement with them via social media and with their endorsed brand. In particular, we focus on the sport celebrity's athletic performance and marketable lifestyle image dimensions. Design/methodology/approach An online consumer survey was conducted regarding sports celebrities' endorsement campaigns and consumers' ad recall. The data were analysed using partial least squares structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM). Moderation and mediation effects were examined, and a multigroup analysis was used to test the existence of significant differences between groups. Findings The motivation to engage with sports celebrities' social media platforms transcends athletic performance and is positively related with the marketable lifestyle. Sports celebrities who highly engage consumers through social media can promote stronger engagement with the endorsed brand, and this effect is positively moderated by the perceived level of congruence between the sport celebrity and the endorsed brand. The effect of the sport celebrity's marketable lifestyle on the endorsed brand is partially mediated by their social media engagement with consumers. Moreover, a multigroup analysis shows no statistically significant differences among gender and age groups. Originality/value This study's contribution is a better understanding of the effect of sport celebrities' image dimensions on consumers' engagement with the celebrities' social media platforms. The marketable lifestyles of celebrities are an important asset that promotes engagement with their social media platforms by consumers that in turn, raises their marketing value in terms of endorsement contracts.
... As brands struggle to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace and advertising becomes increasingly important, the dependence of brands on news about celebrities or their images has increased as well. As the presence of celebrities in advertising grows, it can seem natural to regard celebrities as brands in themselves (Centeno & Wang, 2017;Dwivedi & Johnson, 2013;Eren-Erdogmus et al., 2016;Freire et al., 2018;Lunardo et al., 2015;McCormick, 2016;Min et al., 2019;Muda et al., 2014). Given the explosion of user engagement with social and mass media, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social networking sites have become ubiquitous. ...
... In existing studies on brand theory, inanimate objects that comprise brand images are often personified and given personalities or identities that make it possible to form relationships with consumers. Meanwhile, a human or personal brand is perceived as a single human being or personality who does need to be anthropomorphized (Lunardo et al., 2015;McCracken, 1989). Thomson (2006) was the first to propose an academic approach to the concept and characteristics of human brands. ...
... He argued that a person can become a single independent brand and defined human brands as celebrities whose influence is differentiated from that of an ordinary person based on popularity. Celebrities, as subjects of marketing, interpersonal, or inter-organizational communications, have been referred to as human brands or person brands (Close et al., 2011;Lunardo et al., 2015;Parmentier et al., 2013). ...
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The purpose of the study attempts to assess consumer reactions by classifying anthropomorphized messages according to the authenticity of a human brand with which they are associated. And also the study to investigate the causal relationship between attributions of human brand and consumer–brand relationships, brand attitudes, and purchase intention. An experimental design was used to test the hypotheses. To examine factors that can help brands achieve marketing goals through the use of human brands, this study developed research hypotheses and a structural model by focusing on the consumer information-treating process based on the authenticity of a human brand and message type. The results indicate the existence of a between-group difference with respect to anthropomorphized messages as opposed to non-anthropomorphized messages as well as levels of brand authenticity. An interaction effect was observed for the consumer–brand relationship and attitudes toward a brand. In the main effect analysis, anthropomorphized messages induced a stronger consumer–brand relationship, more positive attitudes toward a brand, and stronger purchase intention for a brand. The results of a path analysis indicated that three dimensions of human brand attributions positively affect consumer–brand relationships. This study provides a new approach to the use of anthropomorphized messages by focusing on the relationship between advertising models and messages. As a result, positive effects can be expected as identification with an advertising model increases.
... People as brands A brand is a name and/or symbol used to distinguish a product, service or organisation from its competitors, being extended to include people like celebrities, journalists, CEOs (Gad and Rosencreutz, 2002;Lair et al., 2005;Lunardo et al., 2015) and athletes (Arai et al., 2014;Kristiansen and Williams, 2015). ...
... 4-5), with football managers having experience, education and a driving passion for football (Morrow and Howieson, 2014). "Human brand" also describes a football manager who acts as a spokesperson to endorse various brands (Arai et al., 2014;Koo, 2009;Lunardo et al., 2015). A celebrity is "an individual whose name has attention-getting, interest-riveting and profit-generating value" (Rein et al., 2006, p. 17), with managers being in the spotlight (Carter, 2007), and their actions being analysed by the media (Bridgewater, 2010). ...
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Purpose Sport is an important economic activity, and understanding the role of teams and managers is necessary, yet managers – specifically their brand personas – have been the subject of limited research. The purpose of this research is to explore the brand persona of a football manager, using Arsène Wenger as a case. Design/methodology/approach Due to the exploratory nature of the study, qualitative methods were used to explore the brand-building activity. Media reports and images that centred on Arsène Wenger's words covering a three-year period were analysed. In total, 1364 articles and 23 images were analysed in NVivo, using both a priori and emergent codes. Findings The findings show the construction of the brand persona in three main dimensions pertinent to his role as a manager. The first is the performance in the managerial role in which Arsène Wenger is appointed, the second is associated with the person (including emotions and self-expression) and the third is the context (i.e. football) in which the manager operates. Research limitations/implications The research focused on one manager while he was managing a premier league club and is limited to England. Practical implications While proposing a theoretical model, this study proposes football clubs understand a manager's persona in relation to the club's brand and the interactive effect. The support of the club on the persona is also indicated. Originality/value Football managers have received some research attention, but there has been no analysis of their brand personas. This study expands the understanding of the contribution of the manager to the club brand.
... Other definitions are reported in the supplementary material in Gorbatov et al. (2018). The human brand of several types of agents has been studied in the literature, such as the human brand of soccer players (Hofmann et al., 2021;Parmentier and Fischer, 2012), athletes (Carlson and Donavan, 2013;Hodge and Walker, 2015;Su et al., 2020), politicians (Speed et al., 2015), journalists (López-Meri and Casero-Ripollés, 2017), CEOs (Bendisch et al., 2013;Cottan-Nir and Lehman-Wilzig, 2018), television celebrities (Lunardo et al., 2015), fashion models (Parmentier et al., 2013), and marketing PhD candidates (Close et al., 2011). Like a product brand, a human brand also works as an extrinsic cue, signaling the quality of the product linked to it, especially in cases where the human brand is the creator's brand. ...
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Considering all transactions related to modern and contemporary visual artists mediated by galleries in Italy between 2007 and 2012, we propose an empirical measure of artist brand and explore its relationship with artist-specific characteristics, such as talent, fame, and popularity, through a structural model. We find that artist brand depends positively on talent, fame, and popularity. Moreover, we find that a co-creation mechanism is at work in the Italian art market, where galleries choose their specialization strategies in picking their artist portfolios. We interpret our findings in light of a novel conceptual framework of human branding and co-creation in the visual art market.
... As denoted by the attributes, athlete brand authenticity is complex, as athletes' physical abilities and performance usually decrease over time. In contrast, the appeal of music and film or television stars may not decline as performance and popularity remain rather high and may even increase with experience (e.g., Robert De Niro, Bob Dylan; Lunardo, Gergaud, & Livat, 2015). ...
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The management of an athlete brand is challenging due to the complex nature of athlete career and life. Striving to maintain brand authenticity will promote long-term sustainability of the brand. The purpose of the study is to determine possible factors that contribute to athlete brand authenticity and help athletes to develop their brand more authentically. To understand the concept of athlete brand authenticity, a systematic literature review was conducted on various electronic databases. The study opted the five-step stages of the framework for this systematic review. A total of 76 attributes were identified from past studies that analyzed the attributes of brand authenticity for various brands. After merging interrelated attributes, the final number of unique attributes was 23. These attributes were distributed among three major themes: on-field activities, off-field activities and marketing activities of an athlete. The study finds brand authenticity to be a multi-dimensional and complex process that endures for longer extensive periods of an athlete’s career. The current study also highlights the complications related to an athlete brand that occur when establishing athlete brand authenticity. Therefore, this study provides an opportunity to refine athlete brand authenticity further within the discussed domains.
... In other words, the persona is a construct created by 1) the roles played by the celebrity in films or TV series, 2) the celebrity's personality exposed in talk shows, etc., and 3) the image, i.e., the shared idea of the celebrity established after a period of time (Jerslev, 2014). These are the components that in the long run transform celebrities into brands that enhance sales of products associated with the celebrities (Lunardo, Gergaud & Livat, 2015;Younas, Farooq & Khalil, 2018). ...
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The research applies the relationship strategies and the image repair strategies frameworks to study and compare celebrities and microcelebrities’ communicative activity on social media during the lockdown in the USA and the UK in spring, 2020. For celebrities, the sample collected on social media in March – April, 2020, reveals qualitative changes: in the quarantine, first-rank celebrities attempted to reduce the assumed gap between themselves and their fans by using the strategies typically associated with microcelebrities, namely openness, positivity, task sharing, and assurance. If applied inappropriately, these strategies damaged the celebrities’ image and the famous chose either to take corrective actions or to ignore the communication failure. The microcelebrities’ messages during the lockdown did not show any qualitative shift: they held on to their typical openness, assurance and task sharing relationship maintenance strategies. Yet, the posts, where some microcelebrities, pursuing the openness strategy, sincerely reported their neglect of the quarantine restrictions, were more destructive to their image than similar posts from celebrities. The negative feedback affected microcelebrities communication on social media quantitatively and qualitatively: the number of messages dropped and the bloggers employed an extensive set of strategies to repair their image. Received: 3 June 2021 / Accepted: 26 July 2021 / Published: 5 September 2021
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