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Relationships between endorsers, causes, and brands

Introduction

The success of strategic brand alliances rests on the relationship between parties. Most importantly, there should be consistency in image or function among elements, also known as fit. Fit can be described as the degree to which a set of associated entities is perceived to be consistent in relation to mission, target audience, and / or values (Becker-Olsen & Hill, 2006). Historically, it has been studied in terms of perceived congruence between a brand and cause (e.g. Drumwright, 1996), or between a celebrity endorser and a brand (e.g. Kamins & Gupta, 1994). Since there are three factors that contribute to fit in this study, the perceived congruence between an endorser, brand, and cause as one entity will be assessed.

Types of fit

Gwinner (1997) identified two types of fit: image-based and function-based. Image-based fit occurs when there is some similarity in what the elements in a partnership represent. For example, both Subway and its celebrity endorser Michael Phelps represent a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, Coca-Cola’s collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on their Arctic Home campaign is another example of image-based fit since both organizations are known for their environmental conservation efforts.

Congruence in image between a charitable organization and a celebrity is also achieved when the celebrity is personally connected to the cause. For instance, Star Jones’ affiliation with the American Heart Association is based on her history as a survivor of heart disease.

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