When Should a Brand Cut Ties With a Scandalized Endorser?

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It is important for brands to appropriately respond when their athlete endorsers are involved in a scandal. The present study examines how consumer evaluations of endorsed brands are influenced by a brand’s response to an endorser scandal. A 2 (brand response strategy type: maintenance vs. termination) × 2 (endorser scandal type: competence-relevant vs. competence-irrelevant) between-subjects experiment is conducted. Specifically, the authors focus on the perceived appropriateness of the response strategy and consumer attitudes toward an endorsed brand. Subjects were recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk (N = 111). Consumers perceive that terminating an endorsement contract with a scandalized endorser is more appropriate than maintaining the relationship. This is particularly true when celebrity endorsers are involved in competence-relevant scandals. A further analysis provided support for the idea that perceived “appropriateness” mediates the relationship between competence-relevant scandal and consumer attitude toward an endorsed brand. A termination strategy was considered appropriate when scandalized endorsers engaged in competence-relevant scandals, which eventually lead to more favorable consumer evaluations toward an endorsed brand.



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