Academic journal article Sport Marketing Quarterly

Effects of Sport Celebrity Transgressions: An Exploratory Study

Academic journal article Sport Marketing Quarterly

Effects of Sport Celebrity Transgressions: An Exploratory Study

Article excerpt


Many organizations are reliant on the sport celebrity brand image to increase their own image (Boisvert 2010), especially during sport celebrity endorsement (Henseler, Wilson, & de Vreede, 2009; Hung, Chan, & Tse, 2011; Kitchen, Brignell, & Spickett, 2004; McCracken 1989; Spy, Pappu, & Cornwell, 2011; White, 2012). When a sport celebrity transgression (SCT) negatively affects the sport celebrity brand image, it is possible that the SCT may affect the sport celebrity's associated brand partners through the process of brand image transfer (McCracken, 1989). This is because celebrity endorsement has previously been described as a brand alliance (Jaiprahash, 2008), where negative information was found to spill over to other brand partners in the alliance (Votolato & Unnava, 2006).

A celebrity is highly valued because of their high levels of attention, interest, and profit generation (Gupta, 2009), and the celebrity enters a sponsorship arrangement with an already attained brand image (McCracken, 1989). Therefore, sponsor organizations align their products and services with these brand images, believing that the message delivered will achieve significant attention and recall from consumers (Erdogan & Drollinger, 2008; Ohanian, 1991). However, when the sport celebrity brand image is affected by an SCT, it is likely to impact the sport celebrity brand image (Till & Shimp, 1989) and the sponsorship campaign (Westberg, Wilson, & Stavros, 2008).

During sport celebrity endorsement, sponsors align their brand image with a specific brand association of the sport celebrity brand image (Till & Busler, 2000). Furthermore, consumer attitudes toward these brand associations in sport are based on their uniqueness and favorability (Bauer, Stokburger-Sauer, & Exler, 2008). When celebrities transgress, the meanings associated with their brand image may also change. It may even affect the uniqueness and favorability of a specific brand association. However, it is not clear which brand association may be more sensitive to an SCT when a specific type of SCT occurs.

Brand image has been described as the perceptions of consumers regarding a particular brand that is reflected by the brand association that is held in memory by the consumer (Keller 1993). As a result, any study investigating the impact of SCTs on the sport celebrity brand image should focus on the perceptions of consumers. In this study, consumers are referred to as individuals who closely follow a sport celebrity, attend sporting events, and/or follow sports on television (Solberg, Hanstad, & Thoring, 2010). Studies that focus on consumers' perceptions of SCTs do not take into account the brand image of a real sport celebrity during their investigation (Doyle, Pentecoste, & Funk, 2014; Solberg et al., 2010). Previous research has shown that sport consumers perceive a fictitious celebrity as different from a real sport celebrity (Till & Shimp, 1998). Therefore, this study investigates the impact of types of SCTs when real sport celebrities get involved in a transgression.

Transgression refers to the abuse of the implicit or explicit rules guiding relationship performance and evaluation (Aaker, Fournier, & Brasel, 2004). This definition suggests that consumers' perceptions of ent types SCT can vary between consumers, depending on consumers' "implicit or explicit rules." These implicit and explicit rules of a consumer may be represented by the consumers' core values and norms. It is also possible that some types of SCTs may fit into the core values and norms of a consumer while others will not fit. Previous research showed that the on-field and off-field type of SCT can affect consumers' perceptions (Summers & Johnson Morgan, 2008; Westberg et al., 2008; Wilson et al., 2008). Therefore, this paper presents a conceptual model to help explain the impact of different types of SCTs on the sport celebrity brand image. …

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