When a Celebrity Is Tied to Immoral Behavior: Consumer Reactions to Michael Jackson and Kobe Bryant

Allison R. Johnson, University of Southern California
EXTENDED ABSTRACT - When a celebrity’s identity is linked to implications of immoral behavior, the reactions of consumers to the celebrity will determine whether their careers can continue to generate profits in the entertainment industry or as endorsers. However, the reactions of consumers tend to vary, from absolute belief in the celebrity’s innocence to absolute belief in his guilt. For example, reactions to the recent charges against Michael Jackson and Kobe Bryant illustrate the widely varied reactions of consumers. In the case of Michael Jackson, the media coverage emphasizes the reactions of his ardent fans who believe he is absolutely innocent, in implicit contrast with others who believe that he is probably guilty of the charges against him. Similarly, the media coverage suggests that many people believe Kobe Bryant is innocent of the charges that were made against him. However, many of the companies who had used him as an endorser are not taking the risk that their products will become associated with a man perceived as a rapist in the minds of some of their consumers.
[ to cite ]:
Allison R. Johnson (2005) ,"When a Celebrity Is Tied to Immoral Behavior: Consumer Reactions to Michael Jackson and Kobe Bryant", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 32, eds. Geeta Menon and Akshay R. Rao, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 100-101.