Academic journal article College and University

Star Power: Elevating Prospective Student Interest through Expert and Celebrity Endorsements-Relevant Message, Relevant Media

Academic journal article College and University

Star Power: Elevating Prospective Student Interest through Expert and Celebrity Endorsements-Relevant Message, Relevant Media

Article excerpt

Star power will guide admission and recruitment officers as they strive to garner the attention of prospective students. John E Kennedy, Jr. (lawyer, journalist, magazine publisher), J.D. Salinger (writer), Katherine Eiepburn (actress), Paul Tagliabue (National Football League commissioner), and Franklin D. Roosevelt (32nd president of the United States) are expert and celebrity names that echo in the halls of U.S. universities (Rooney 2003). The following expert and celebrity names may be more effective in vying for the attention of todays high school students and soon-to-be graduates: Serena van der Woodsen ("Gossip Girl"), Brian Griffin ("Family Guy"), Alexander Ludwig ("Hunger Games"), Dakota Fanning ("Twilight"), Dylan and Cole Sprouse ("Suite Life of Zach and Cody"), Emma Watson ("Harry Potter"), Jaméis Watson (quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner), Missy Franklin (gold medalist, U.S. Olympic swim team), Jessica Springsteen (competitive horseback rider), Patrick Schwarzenegger (actor and model), and Scout Willis (actress) (Robinson and Stanger 2014). These expert and celebrity names offer prospective students the ability to follow in their footsteps and "room" with them by enrolling at the colleges they attended.

Expert and celebrity appeal is not a new advertising strategy. This is especially true of star athletes who promote a university. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (ncaa) "insists college players not be used as sales tools," but this does not prevent institutions from courting advertisers and sponsors alike (Wieberg and Berkowitz 2009, p. 2). Like athletes, expert and celebrity endorsers have a unique ability to initiate and perpetuate product conversations and to engage consumers in a narrative-one desired by consumers because they are part of the brands message. A recent study of celebrity endorsements indicated "that sales for some brands increased up to 20 percent" (Crutchfield 2010, p. 1).

Consumers are exposed to more than 3,000 advertisements each day through multiple channels (e.g., apps, billboards, magazines, radio, social media, television, and websites). One hundred and fifty of the 3,000 advertisements reach the subconscious mind, and approximately 900 (30%) reach the conscious mind (Crutchfield 2010). Featuring experts and celebrities may "dramatically accelerate the po tential for your brand to reach the conscious mind of the consumer" (Crutchfield 2010, p.i). Currently, more than 5,000 colleges and universities operate in the United States (Cook 2014), "each with its own unique purpose, history, student body, and faculty" (Nafukho and Burnett 2002, p.3) and vying for the attention of college seekers.

Gaining the attention of high school graduates is a primary goal of higher education admission officers. Although the number of students enrolled at U.S. degree-granting institutions is expected to increase by 13.9 percent between now and 2022 (Lederman 2014), admission representatives strive to garner attention for their institutions-that is, to be included on prospective students' lists of schools they are considering. Competition is surging because students have more choices "thanks to easier-to-access airline transportation and telecommunications. Parents are more willing to send their kids across state lines. Students apply to more colleges now, because of this and because of the Common Application, which has made applying to multiple schools as simple as a few more clicks" (Cook 2014, p.2). Currently enrolled and alumni expert and celebrity endorsers have the ability to give these soon-to-be college students the opportunity to "room" with star power and to advance their search process to college choice (or enrollment). A 2012 study con- eluded that millennials were twice as likely as Gen-Xers (individuals between the ages of 35 and 49 years), four times more likely than boomers (individuals between the ages of 50 and 69 years), and ten times more likely than silents (individuals age 70 years and older) to be influenced by celebrities (Barton, Koslow and Beauchamp 2014). …

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