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Celebrities and Shoes on the Female Brain: The Neural Correlates of Product Evaluation in the Context of Fame

Mirre Stallen, Ale Smidts, Mark Rijpkema, Gitty Smit, Vasily Klucharev and Guillén Fernandez

ERIM Report Series Research in Management from Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam

Abstract: Celebrity endorsement is omnipresent. However, despite its prevalence, it is unclear why celebrities are more persuasive than (equally attractive) non-famous endorsers. The present study investigates which processes underlie the effect of fame on product memory and purchase intention by the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging methods. We find an increase in activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC) underlying the processing of celebrity-product pairings. This finding suggests that the effectiveness of celebrities stems from a transfer of positive affect from celebrity to product. Additional neuroimaging results indicate that this positive affect is elicited by the spontaneous retrieval of explicit memories associated with the celebrity endorser. Also, we demonstrate that neither the activation of implicit memories of earlier exposures nor an increase in attentional processing is essential for a celebrity advertisement to be effective. By explaining the neural mechanism of fame, our results illustrate how neuroscience may contribute to a better understanding of consumer behavior.

Keywords: affect transfer; celebrity endorsement; medial orbital frontal cortex; neuroeconomics; neuromarketing; persuasion (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C44 M M31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2009-08-26
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