ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2018, Vol. 50 ›› Issue (8): 907-919.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00907

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Self-enhancing or self-deprecating: How can celebrity endorsement enhance the marketing effectiveness of advertisements in social media

HUANG Minxue1,YAO Shunyu1(),LIU Maohong2   

  1. 1 Department of Marketing and Tourism Management, Economics and Management School, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
    2 Management School, Wuhan University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430081, China
  • Received:2017-08-30 Published:2018-08-25 Online:2018-07-02


Recent years have witnessed the increasing prevalence of celebrity endorsement as advertising in China. The reason for this increased prevalence is that celebrity endorsements can boost the credibility and attractiveness of advertisements and therefore lead to increased profits for companies in most cases. In the social media environment, the influence of celebrities is amplified remarkably by the following of their fans. Previous studies have demonstrated that the effect of celebrity endorsements is mostly positive or self-enhancing. However, this effect does not always apply in social media platforms. For example, several celebrity endorsements actually contain self-deprecating content. In this study, we explored the role of self-enhancement and self-deprecation in celebrity endorsement effectiveness and examined their impact on consumers’ intent to share. Furthermore, we introduce the moderating effect of product types, namely, whether a product is utilitarian or hedonic.

To obtain preliminary insights, we collected 86 micro-blog posts with celebrity endorsements and coded them as either self-enhancing or self-deprecating posts. Analysis of secondary data showed that consumers shared numerous self-enhancing celebrity endorsement posts with regard to hedonic products, and consumers shared many self-deprecating celebrity endorsement posts with regard to utilitarian products.

Subsequently, we conducted laboratory studies to validate our hypothesis further. First, we performed a robust test on the effect of different celebrity endorsements on consumers’ intent to share. The results of the two types of celebrity endorsements (self-enhancing and self-deprecating) indicated the effect of self-deprecating celebrity endorsement on consumers’ intent to share was stronger than that of self-enhancing celebrity endorsement. Second, we examined the interactive effect of celebrity endorsements and product types and the mediating role of social influence. As expected, the 2 (celebrity endorsements: self-enhancing vs. self-deprecating) × 2 (product types: utilitarian vs. hedonic) subject design experiment suggested that participants in the utilitarian product condition were willing to share self-deprecating content, and this effect was caused by informative influence. On the contrary, participants in the hedonic product condition were willing to share self-enhancing content, and this effect was driven by normative influence.

Our research contributes to literature on celebrity endorsement in social media by focusing on consumers’ sharing intention rather than purchase behavior. First, this research explores whether self-deprecating celebrity endorsement can strengthen consumers’ intent to share or not. Second, this study provides a new perspective on celebrity endorsement by differentiating its content into two types: self-enhancing and self-deprecating. Third, this research examines the impact of product difference in celebrity advertisement. It reveals that consumers in different product conditions might share different celebrity endorsement advertisements. Finally, we demonstrated the mediation mechanism of the interaction between celebrity endorsement and product type by examining consumers’ sharing intention. Aside from this empirical demonstration, our research also presents many useful implications for companies with regard to the design of celebrity endorsement.

Key words: celebrity endorsement, product types, normative influence, informative influence, word of mouth

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