Celebrities & Endorsements: The more you know, the less you like 'em

New research published today suggests the more the public know about the personal life and opinions of a celebrity, the less effective endorsements of products (and politicians) by that celebrity are. Celebrities beware of over-exposure!

'A sign of celebrity is that his name is often worth more than his services' - Daniel J. Boorstin

The more over-exposed a celebrity's private life becomes, the less the public likes them, and the less effective their endorsement of products, brands and politicians will become. These are the findings of new research published today in the journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology, in a series of experiments which used the politically polarising pair of Tom Hanks and Mel Gibson as examples.

The more details the research participants received about the private lives, political position and religious beliefs of these two long established cinema megastars, the less highly the participants thought of them.

Surprisingly, the drop in esteem occurred across the board, and was only slightly less pronounced in subjects whose own beliefs broadly tallied with the stars'. So while the liberals still thought better of Hanks, even they thought a little less of him the more they knew, and the further their image of him got from that projected by his movie roles.

In this celebrity-obsessed age, one of the most frequent complaints we hear from our beloved stars is the intrusions into their private lives their fame inevitably brings.

The usual public response to this Faustian complaint is 'So what?' The public understands the trade off for the adulation they receive is a loss of some privacy and anonymity.

But as this research shows, from the celebrity perspective this isn't just speacial pleading: keeping something back is a practical career consideration for those who want to maximise their appeal over the long term.

This feeds into a problem some latter-day celebrities have from day one: without any discernible talent to attract an audience in the first place, all they have to offer to interest us are their controversial opinions and the details of their private lives. But, as this research demonstrates, the more we know about a celebrity, the less we like them: Remember when Jersey Shore's The Situation was actually paid to stop wearing Abercrombie & Fitch clothes? It's the same process at work.

The researchers finish their paper with the following words of caution:

'[Celebrities] informing the public about themselves and their positions on political, religious, and social issues may diminish not only their popularity but their endorsement appearances and sales at the box office.'

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01973533.2012.728408

rob.keery@tandf.co.uk

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