Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Whether they are gracing movie screens, tweeting about the size of their baby bump, or being photographed by the paparazzi in their swimwear accidently on purpose, celebrities compel consumers to care. Despite the pervasive consumer interest in celebrities, the fundamental process of how and when consumers develop relationships with and attachments to them is a subject that has been underexplored by marketing scholars, a discipline whose activities are often turbocharged by celebrities. In this research project, celebrities are viewed as brands in and of themselves, and accordingly, are examined through the prism of marketing's brand relationship literature. Drawing upon that literature and narrative transportation theory, a theoretical model of the celebrity brand attachment process is developed and empirically tested over the course of four online experiments. Results indicate that narratives about celebrity brands transport consumers to a place where they feel and behave as if they are in a communal-like relationship with the celebrity brand, despite their awareness of the contrary. These feelings and behaviors are lasting and manifest themselves back in the real world with increases in attachment and intention to consume more celebrity brand narratives. Furthermore, differences in the narrative type (on-stage vs. off-stage) and celebrity brand type (achieved vs. attributed) are found to impact the relationship between narratives and attachment level, while brand type and attachment style type are not found to significantly impact the narrative - attachment relationship.
This dissertation is Open Access and may be downloaded by anyone.