Impact of celebrity endorsements in disease-specific direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to analyze the effects on consumer response between disease-specific advertising containing a celebrity compared to a non-celebrity endorser.

A randomized, cross-sectional two (endorser type) by two (levels of disease state involvement) factorial design was used. Respondents (over the age of 18) were randomly shown one of the ad types and then responded to an online survey questionnaire containing questions and various scales measuring disease state involvement, endorser credibility, attitude toward the ad and company, attention to the ad, behavioral intentions and information search behavior. The disease-specific ad stimuli modeled the form of current print direct-to-consumer ads and were created following recent Food and Drug Administration guidelines, with the only difference being the specific pictorial used (celebrity versus non-celebrity).

Findings: While endorser type did not significantly affect consumer attitudes, behavioral intentions and information search behavior, level of disease state involvement, though, did. More highly involved consumers had more positive attitudes, behavioral intentions and greater information search behavior.

Originality: While consumers paid more attention to the celebrity-containing ads and viewed them as more credible, this did not translate into significant effects on the outcome dependent variables of consumer attitudes toward the ad and company, behavioral intentions and information search behavior. As previous literature has suggested, level of disease state involvement was a significant predictor of respondent outcomes. Overall, pharmaceutical manufacturers might want to re-evaluate using a celebrity endorser in disease-specific ads, as this research shows the benefits/outcomes may not justify the cost.

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International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing





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This article was published in , Volume 8, Issue 2, 2014, pages 164-177. The published version is available at

Copyright ©2014 Emerald

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