The Impact of Negative Publicity on Celebrity Ad Endorsements


Correspondence regarding this article should be sent to: Bradley R. Barnes, Professor, The Management School, University of Sheffield, 9 Mappin Street, Sheffield, S1 4DT, United Kingdom (


The article reports on an experiment to test the impact of negative publicity on celebrity ad endorsements. The extent to which negativity influences attitudes toward a celebrity, and to what degree this influences consumers of high–low involvement and image-related products is examined. Three hypothetical incidents relating to an extramarital affair, a drink-driving incident, and criticism of the professional integrity for three different celebrities (a television sitcom and film star, a television and radio presenter, and a current affairs television presenter) were developed and investigated using a sample of “Generation Y” consumers. Three different sources of negative information were used, based on rumor, media footage, and celebrity publicly tells all. The findings suggest that the statements had a negative effect on the overall attitudes toward the celebrities but showed variations for different product categories. Interestingly, there were no significant differences based on the source of negative information. Several implications are discussed and directions for future research suggested.