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Brand Personification through the Use of Spokespeople: An Exploratory Study of Ordinary Employees, CEOs, and Celebrities Featured in Advertising


  • Nathalie Fleck

    () (GAINS - ARGUMANS - Atelier De Recherche En Gestion De L'université Du Mans - GAINS - Groupe d'Analyse des Itinéraires et des Niveaux Salariaux - UM - Le Mans Université, UM - Le Mans Université)

  • Géraldine Michel

    () (GREGOR - Groupe de Recherche en Gestion des Organisations - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - IAE Paris - Sorbonne Business School)

  • Valérie Zeitoun

    (GREGOR - Groupe de Recherche en Gestion des Organisations - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - IAE Paris - Sorbonne Business School)


Personifying a brand through the use of a spokesperson is a strategy that some companies use to humanize their brands. Three of the ways that such personification is accomplished in advertising is by ads featuring celebrities, "regular people" (such as everyday consumers or persons employed by the brand), and company founders or CEOs as spokespeople. Using a sampling of representative print ads as stimuli, this exploratory qualitative research probed consumer thinking and perceptions regarding these various approaches to brand personification. It was found that celebrities could magically transport consumers to an idealized place, provided there was congruence between the celebrity and the brand. Ordinary people as spokespeople, when genuinely perceived as "one of us," could be particularly effective in humanizing a brand and eliciting empathy. Famous CEOs and company founders were revered by many respondents who viewed them as aspirational models: they are ordinary people with an extraordinary story. The implications and limitations of the research were discussed, and some directions for future research were provided.

Suggested Citation

  • Nathalie Fleck & Géraldine Michel & Valérie Zeitoun, 2014. "Brand Personification through the Use of Spokespeople: An Exploratory Study of Ordinary Employees, CEOs, and Celebrities Featured in Advertising," Post-Print halshs-01897868, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-01897868
    DOI: 10.1002/mar.20677
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server:

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    Cited by:

    1. Chu, Kyounghee & Lee, Do-Hee & Kim, Ji Yoon, 2019. "The effect of verbal brand personification on consumer evaluation in advertising: Internal and external personification," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 472-480.
    2. Jasmina Ilicic & Stacey M Baxter & Alicia Kulczynski, 2016. "The impact of age on consumer attachment to celebrities and endorsed brand attachment," Journal of Brand Management, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 23(3), pages 273-288, May.
    3. Clément Levallois & Morgane Marchand & Tiago Mata & André Panisson, 2016. "Twitter for Research, Handbook 2015-2016," Post-Print hal-01892824, HAL.
    4. Muela-Molina, Clara & Perelló-Oliver, Salvador & García-Arranz, Ana, 2020. "Endorsers’ presence in regulation and endorsements in dietary supplements’ advertising on Spanish radio," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 124(8), pages 902-908.
    5. Elgaaied-Gambier, Leila & Monnot, Elisa & Reniou, Fanny, 2018. "Using descriptive norm appeals effectively to promote green behavior," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 179-191.
    6. Carol L. Esmark & Stephanie M. Noble, 2018. "Retail space invaders: when employees’ invasion of customer space increases purchase intentions," Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Springer, vol. 46(3), pages 477-496, May.

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