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Social media influencers & transgressive celebrity endorsement in consumption community contexts

Cocker, Hayley, Mardon, Rebecca and Daunt, Kate 2021. Social media influencers & transgressive celebrity endorsement in consumption community contexts. European Journal of Marketing 10.1108/EJM-07-2019-0567
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Purpose: This paper aims to elucidate instances whereby celebrity endorsements by social media influencers (SMIs) embedded within online consumption communities are perceived as transgressive by their fellow community members. In doing so, this research provides insights into the new challenges and considerations that such community contexts present for celebrity endorsement. Methodology: The research team conducted a longitudinal, netnographic study of the YouTube beauty community, involving an initial phase of netnographic immersion followed by an investigative netnography that examined community members’ response to celebrity endorsements by twelve SMIs within the community. Findings: This research identifies five recurring celebrity endorsement transgressions, each violating an established moral responsibility within the community. The paper explores how community members attribute responsibility for transgressive endorsements and identifies consequences for both the SMI and the endorsed brand. Research limitations: This study focused on a single consumption community, developing a deep understanding of the distinct moral responsibilities that shape the reception of celebrity endorsements within this context. Originality/value: Our analysis extends prior research on celebrity endorsement by SMIs by explaining when and why SMI endorsements are likely to be perceived as transgressive by the community, and providing new insights into community member responses to transgressive SMI endorsements. It also extends wider theories of celebrity endorsement by highlighting the influence of consumption community contexts upon endorsement reception and examining consumer responses to celebrity endorsements perceived as transgressive in and of themselves. Practical implications: The paper presents managerial recommendations that will aid both SMIs and brands in implementing celebrity endorsements that avoid communal perceptions of transgression. Keywords: Celebrity endorsement, celebrity transgressions, social media influencers, influencer marketing, consumption communities, online communities, netnography, YouTube

Item Type: Article
Status: In Press
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Additional Information: Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial International Licence 4.0 (CC BY-NC 4.0)
Publisher: Emerald
ISSN: 0309-0566
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 15 January 2021
Date of Acceptance: 8 January 2021
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2021 01:58

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