Picking a Celebrity Endorser? Keep Culture in Mind!

August 25, 2018 / James Hughes

Celebrity endorsements are a very, very commonplace marketing technique. Who among us hasn't seen a retired football player trying to sell weight loss shakes, or rapper selling headphones, and of course celebrity chefs selling anything that belongs in a kitchen. Hell, Snoop Dogg once agreed to be spokesperson for Hot Pockets, and Kim Kardashian was the face of Charmin toilet paper!

But while celebrity endorsements are commonplace, especially in the United States, what are the international concerns with celebrity endorsements? What should be considered before using a celebrity in Europe or Asia? Research has been able to elucidate some of these issues. A study by Jin-A Choi and Robert Lewis (2017) examined how Koreans and Americans differed in their responses to celebrity endorsements. They found that because Koreans and Americans have different values as societies, the most effective endorsements came from celebrities who represented those values. For Americans, a priority was on showing caring and fairness, while for Koreans the emphasis was on loyalty, authority, and purity.

What this Means for Managers:

The big takeaway from Choi & Lewis’ study is that it isn't enough to find a celebrity endorser who is related to the product somehow (though that helps!). When dealing with multi-national audiences, it is important to take into account the baseline values of the culture and find celebrities whose personal brand aligns with that culture.

Thanks for reading,

James Hughes


Choi, J., & Lewis, R. (2017). Culture and the Star-Power Strategy: Comparing American and Korean Response to Celebrity-Endorsed Advertising. Journal Of Global Marketing, 30(1), 3-11. doi:10.1080/08911762.2016.1242681