Celebrity athlete endorsement and social marketing: Promoting participation in sport and physical activity
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Endorsement is a common promotional strategy which can capture the attention of a target audience. Social marketing campaigns promoting sport and physical activity could be more effective if endorsed by a suitable individual. The purpose of this research was to investigate the role of endorsers and their attributes within the context of a social marketing campaign. A mixed method design within three related studies were conceived and implemented, each featuring both an experiment and focus groups. It was found that a sport-based social marketing campaign is more effective when endorsed by a celebrity athlete than an unknown expert/non-expert or a celebrity non-athlete endorser. It was also revealed that a former female athlete would be an appropriate fit for a campaign promoting sport and physical activity, specifically for those who are already psychologically involved in sport or physical activity. The use of an endorser within a social marketing setting for promotion of sport and physical activity is beneficial, but it is not straightforward. Social marketing practitioners need to consider the expertise, recognition, gender and career status of endorsers as well as the gender of the audience in order to maximise the effect of a campaign targeting young adults.