“Hey guys, check this out! #ad” The Impact of Media Figure-User Relationships and Ad Explicitness on Celebrity Endorsements

Kathryn L. Lookadoo, Norman C. H. Wong


This study examined the extent to which parasocial relationships (PSR) between celebrities and media users impact the effectiveness of celebrity endorsements on social media for various products. A 2 (high/low PSR endorser) x 2 (explicit/implicit endorsement) experiment tested the effects of PSR and endorsement explicitness on media users’ attitudes toward the endorsed product and product purchase intentions. A total of 346 participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 16 Twitter message conditions (i.e., 8 celebrities and 2 types of endorsements). Product purchase intentions were not significantly impacted by the celebrity credibility or source congruence whereas attitudes toward the endorsed product was significantly affected. Media user-figure relationships significantly impacted both attitudes and intentions. PSR and endorsement explicitness had a significant interaction effect on attitudes toward products. Product attitudes were most positive for explicit endorsements from high PSR endorsers and least positive for explicit endorsements from low PSR endorsers. Implications for marketers are discussed in the paper. 


parasocial relationship; wishful identification; social media; celebrity endorsements

Full Text:



Celebrities’ endorsement earnings on social media. (2016, October 17). The Economist. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2016/10/17/celebrities-endorsement-earnings-on-social-media.

Amos, C., Holmes, G., & Strutton, D. (2008). Exploring the relationship between celebrity endorser effects and advertising effectiveness: A quantitative synthesis of effect size. International Journal of Advertising, 27(2), 209-234.

Auter, P., & Palmgreen, P. (2000). Development and validation of a parasocial interaction measure: The audience-persona interaction scale. Communication Research Reports, 17(1), 79-89.

Batra, R., & Homer, P. M. (2004). The situational impact of brand image beliefs. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 14, 318-330.

Bond, B. J. & Drogos, K.L. (2014). Sex on the shore: Wishful identification and parasocial relationships as mediators in the relationship between Jersey Shore exposure and emerging adults’ sexual attitudes and behaviors. Media Psychology, 17, 102-126. doi: 10.1080/15213269.2013.872039

Caballero, M. J., & Pride, W. M. (1984). Selected effects of salesperson sex and attractiveness in direct mail advertisements. Journal of Marketing Management, 48(4), 94-100.

Carroll, A. (2008). Brand communications in fashion categories using celebrity endorsement. Journal of Brand Management, 17(2), 146-158. doi: 10.1057/bm.2008.42

Chang, K. T. T., Chen, W., & Tan, B. C. Y. (2012). Advertising effectiveness in social networking sites: Social ties, expertise, and product type. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 59(4), 634-643.

Cheung C.M. & Thadani, D.R. (2010) The effectiveness of electronic word-of-mouth communication: A literature analysis. Proceedings of the 23rd Bled eConference eTrust: implications for the individual, enterprises and society, p 329–345

Choi, S. M., & Rifon, N. J. (2012). It is a match: The impact of congruence between celebrity image and consumer ideal self on endorsement effectiveness. Psychology & Marketing, 29(9), 639-650. doi: 10.1002/mar.20550

Chory-Assad, R. M., & Yanen, A. (2005). Hopelessness and loneliness as predictors of older adults' involvement with favorite television performers. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 49(2), 182-201. doi: 10.1207/s15506878jobem4902_3

Chung, S. & Cho, H. (2017). Fostering parasocial relationships with celebrities on social media: Implications for celebrity endorsement. Psychology & Marketing, 34(4): 481-495. doi: 1002/mar.21001

Cohen, E. L. (2010). Expectancy violations in relationships with friends and media figures. Communication Research Reports, 27(2), 97-111. doi: 10.1080/08824091003737836

Cronley, M., Kardes, F., Goddard, P., & Houghton, D. (1999). Endorsing products for the money: The role of the correspondence bias in celebrity advertising. Advances In Consumer Research, 26, 627–631.

Crutchfield, D. (2010). Celebrity endorsements still push product. Advertising Age (accessed October 18, 2018), [available at http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/marketing-celebrity-endorsements-push-product/146023].

Cunningham, N., & Bright, L. F. (2012). The tweet is in your court: Measuring attitude towards athlete endorsements in social media. International Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications, 4(2), 73–87.

Dibble, J. L., Hartmann, T., & Rosaen, S. F. (2016). Parasocial interaction and parasocial relationship: Conceptual clarification and a critical assessment of measures. Human Communication Research, 42(1), 21-44. doi: 10.1111/hcre.12063

Ding, Y. & Qiu, L. (2017). The impact of celebrity-following activities on endorsement effectiveness on microblogging platforms: A parasocial interaction perspective. Nankai Business Review International, 8, 2, 158-173. doi: 10.1108/NBRI-11-2016-0043

Djafarova, E. & Rushworth, C. (2017). Exploring the credibility of online celebrities’ Instagram profiles in influencing the purchase decisions of young female users. Computers in Human Behavior, 68, 1-7. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.11.009

DuVall, E. (2017, April 20). FTC to Instagram starrs: Disclose paid endorsement posts. Retrieved from https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2017/04/20/FTC-to-Instagram-stars-Disclose-paid-endorsement-posts/4681492712253/.

Eisend, M., & Langner, T. (2010). Immediate and delayed advertising effects of celebrity endorsers' attractiveness and expertise. International Journal of Advertising, 29(4), 527-546. doi: 10.2501/S0265048710201336

Erdogan, B. Z. (1999). Celebrity endorsement: A literature review. Journal of Marketing Management, 15(4), 291-314.

Erdogan, B. Z., & Baker, M. J. (2000). Towards a practitioner based model of selecting celebrity endorsers. International Journal of Advertising, 19, 25-42.

Erdogan, B. Z., Baker, M. J., & Tagg, S. (2001). Selecting celebrity endorsers: The practitioner's perspective. Journal of Advertising Research, 41(3), 39-48.

Federal Trade Commision (n.d.). The FTC’s endorsement guides: What people are asking. Retrieved on June 7, 2018 from https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking#SocialNetworkingSites.

Gilbert, D. T. & Malone, P. S. (1995). The correspondence bias. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 1, 21–38.

Goldsmith R.E. & Horowitz, D, (2006), Measuring motivations for online opinion seeking. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 6(2): 2–14.

Gomez, S. (2012, November 22). Big news! I've partnered with @adidasNEOlabel! See what we are up to and win a chance to meet me! #selenagoesNEO http://a.did.as/WgliVq [Twitter post]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/selenagomez.

Gong, W. & Li, X. (2017). Engaging fans on microblog: The synthetic influence of parasocial interaction and source characteristics on celebrity endorsement. Psychology & Marketing, 34, 720-732. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/mar.21018

Grant, A., Guthrie, K., & Ball-Rokeach, S. (1991). Television shopping: A media system dependency perspective. Communication Research, 18(6), 773-798. doi: 10.1177/009365091018006004

Hennin-Thurau, T., Gwinner, K. P., Walsh, G., & Gremler, D. D. (2004). Electronic word-of-mouth via consumer-opinion platforms: What motivates consumers to articulate themselves on the Internet? Journal of Interactive Marketing, 18(1), 38e52.

Hoffner, C. (1996). Children's wishful identification and parasocial interaction with favorite television characters. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 40(3), 389-402. doi: 10.1080/08838159609364360

Hoffner, C., & Buchanan, M. (2005). Young adults' wishful identification with television characters: The role of perceived similarity and character attributes. Media Psychology, 7(4), 325-351. doi: 10.1207/s1532785xmep0704_2

Horton, D., & Wohl, R. R. (1956). Mass communication and parasocial interaction. Psychiatry, 19, 215–229.

Jackson, D. J. (2005). The influence of celebrity endorsements on young adults' political opinions. The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 10(3), 80-98. doi: 10.1177/1081180x05279278

Kaikati, J. G. (1987). Celebrity advertising: A review and synthesis. International Journal of Advertising, 6(2), 93-105.

Kamins, M. A. (1990). An investigation into the "match-up" hypothesis in celebrity advertising: When beauty may be only skin deep. Journal of Advertising, 19, 4-13.

Kamins, M. A., & Gupta, K. (1994). Congruence between spokesperson and product type: A matchup hypothesis perspective. Psychology & Marketing, 11, 569-586.

Klimmt, C., Hefner, D., & Vorderer, P. (2009). The video game experience as “true” identification: A theory of enjoyable alterations of players' self-perception. Communication Theory, 19(4), 351-373. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2885.2009.01347

Kowalczyk, C. M. & Pounders, K. R., (2016). Transforming celebrities through social media: The role of authenticity and emotional attachment. Journal of Product & Brand Management, 25(4), 345-356. doi: 10.1108/JPBM-09-2015-0969

Labrecque, L. I. (2014). Fostering consumer–brand relationships in social media environments: The role of parasocial interaction. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 28, 134–148. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.intmar.2013.12.003

Lim, C. M. & Kim, Y-K. (2011). Older consumers’ TV home shopping: Loneliness, parasocial interaction, and perceived convenience. Psychology & Marketing, 28(8), 736-780. doi: 10.1002/mar.20411

Lueck, J. A. (2015). Friend-zone with benefits: The parasocial advertising of Kim Kardashian. Journal of Marketing Communications, 21(2), 91-109. doi: 10.1080/13527266.2012.726235.

McCracken, G. (1989). Who is the celebrity endorser? Cultural foundations of the endorsement process. . Journal of Consumer Research, 16(3), 310-321.

McGuire, W. J. (1985). Attitudes and attitude change. In G. Lindzey & E. Aronson (Eds.), Handbook of Social Psychology. Special Fields and Applications (3 ed., pp. 233-246). New York: Random House.

Miller, F. M., & Laczniak, G. R. (2011). The ethics of celebrity- athlete endorsement. Journal of Advertising Research, 51, 499–510.

Moeran, B. (2003). Celebrities and the name economy. Research in Economic Anthropology, 22, 299-321. doi: 10.1016/s0190-1281(03)22011-4

Moyer-Gusé, E. (2008). Toward a theory of entertainment persuasion: Explaining the persuasive effects of entertainment-education messages. Communication Theory, 18(3), 407-425. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2885.2008.00328.x

Nicolau, J., & Santa-María, M. (2013). Communicating excellence in innovation. Economics Letters, 118(1), 87e90. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econlet.2012.09.025

Ohanian, R. (1991). The impact of celebrity spokespersons’ perceived image on consumers’ intention to purchase. Journal of Advertising Research, 31(1), 46-54.

Piazza, J. (2012, January 28). How much can a celebrity make for tweeting. Vulture. Retrieved from http://www.vulture.com/2012/01/how-much-can-a-celebrity-make-for-tweeting.html

Rasmussen, L. (2018). Parasocial interaction in the digital age: An examination of relationship building effectiveness of YouTube celebrities. The Journal of Social Media in Society, 7(1), 280-294.

Ronaldo, C. (2018, June 4). “The world is watching. Let’s go to work #HerbalifeNutrition #BehindTheResults #sponsored” [Twitter post]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/Cristiano.

Rosaen, S. F., & Dibble, J. L. (2008). Investigating the relationships among child's age, parasocial interactions, and the social realism of favorite television characters. Communication Research Reports, 25(2), 145-154. doi: 10.1080/08824090802021806

Rubin, A. M., & Perse, E. M. (1987). Audience Activity and Soap Opera Involvement A Uses and Effects Investigation. Human Communication Research, 14(2), 246-268. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2958.1987.tb00129.x

Schmid, H., & Klimmt, C. (2011). A magically nice guy: Parasocial relationships with Harry Potter across different cultures. The International Communication Gazette, 73(3), 252-269.

Schramm, H., & Hartmann, T. (2008). The PSI-Process Scales. A new measure to assess the intensity and breadth of parasocial processes. Communications, 33(4), 385-401. doi: 10.1515/comm.2008.025

Spangenberg, E. R., Voss, K. E, & Crowley, A. E.. (1997). Measuring the hedonic and utilitarian dimensions of attitude: A generally applicable scale. Advances in Consumer Research, 24, 235 – 241.

Spry, A., Pappu, R., & Cornwell, T. B. (2011). Celebrity endorsement, brand credibility and brand equity. European Journal of Marketing, 45(6), 882-909. doi: 10.1108/03090561111119958

Sternthal, B., Phillips, L. W., & Dholakia, R. (1978). The persuasive effect of source credibility: A situational analysis. Public Opinion Quarterly, 42, 285–314.

Till, B. D., & Busler, M. (2000). The match-up hypothesis: Physical attractiveness, expertise, and the role of fit on brand attitude, purchase intent and brand beliefs. Journal of Advertising, 29(3), 1-13.

Till, B. D., Stanley, S. M., & Priluck, R. (2008). Classical conditioning and celebrity endorsers: An examination of belongingness and resistance to extinction. Psychology and Marketing, 25, 179–196.

TINA.org. (2017a, September 26). Ad watchdog TINA.org follows up on Kardashians’ deceptive advertising. Retrieved from https://www.truthinadvertising.org/ad-watchdog-tina-org-follows-kardashians-deceptive-advertising/.

TINA.org. (2017b, October 31). Warner Brothers & PewDiePie not game to disclose influencer marketing. Retrieved from https://www.truthinadvertising.org/warner-bros-press-release/.

TINA.org. (2018, April 4). DJ Khaled Instagram, Facebook, Twitter Database. Retrieved from https://www.truthinadvertising.org/dj-khaled-instagram-facebook-twitter-database/.

von Feilitzen, C., & Linné, O. (1975). Identifying with television characters. Journal of Communication, 25(4), 51-55. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.1975.tb00638.x

Wei, P.S., & Lu, H. P. (2013). An examination of the celebrity endorsements and online customer reviews influence female consumers’ shopping behavior. Computers in Huamn Behavior, 29(1), 193-201.

Yuan, C. L., Kim, J., Kim, S. J. (2016). Parasocial relationship effects on customer equity in the social media context. Journal of Business Research, 69, 3795-3803. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2015.12.071


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Based at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, USA, The Journal of Social Media in Society is sponsored by the Colleges of Liberal and Fine Arts, Education, Business Administration, and Graduate Studies.