Credit points : 8
Deadline : Week 9
ASSESSMENT TASK #2 : CONTEMPORARY ISSUES ESSAY (WEIGHT 30%)
The objective of this assessment is to critically evaluate the ways that the internet online world/new media (web 2.0 based) has affected and delivered key messages relating to a current social issue. This may be via specific websites, online news channels, social networking sites, blogs, forums, wikis etc.
Choose a contemporary social issue and examine how it has been affected and impacted upon by the internet and online media.
Generally the Stages of essay writing are:
You will use your Learning Journal to complete Stages 1 – 3
In Week 5 you will submit a Draft Outline of your essay (Stages 4&5), that will be returned to you so that you can complete the Essay in Week 9.
Be vigilant of Mainstream media person
( celebrity endorsement in the era of new media )
Celebrity endorsement has been used as a marketing instrument and it is believed that the presence of celebrities has significant influence on the consumer purchase behaviors and intentions. Sometimes, consumers purchase certain products or services because of the presence of their favorite celebrities in advertisement instead of the products. For example, the promotion of Justin Bieber for Calvin Klein led to increase in sales (Chung and Cho, 2017).
In the age of new media, celebrity endorsement has advanced on a variety of social media, including platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Weibo (Dunn et al., 2016). In the past, celebrities showed up in advertisement to represent certain products or services. Currently, the relationship between celebrities and consumers have extended since celebrities are encouraged to engage with the consumers for the products and services they represent. Companies now have wider choices for celebrities, such as musicians, internet celebrities, athletes, or motive starts. Besides, small businesses now have the ability to afford the celebrity endorsement since some of the celebrities charge less fees (Burke, 2017).
However, celebrity endorsement in the era of new media also faces emerging challenges and the choice of celebrities also bring potential risks to the company and to the public. The celebrity endorsement never means that the quality of the products or the services is questionable. Since celebrities can take advantage of their reputation to make money easily, the credibility of the endorsement is not free from problem. Traditionally, media trust is measured based on the sources and message credibility by communication researchers (Ledbetter and Redd, 2016). The personal name of celebrities might override the concerns of the consumers regardless the underlying quality of products. Nevertheless, the lack of relevant knowledge and temptation of personal gains might impair the credibility of celebrity endorsement (Khamis et al., 2017).
This study will explore celebrity endorsement in the era of new media. By using the study method of case study, the hypothesis that lack of certain expertise and Congruity related to the product or services will harm the credibility of celebrity endorsement be tested. The case of Cui Yongyuan, a famous television host and producer in China will be analyzed for this study purpose.
2.0 Source of Credibility of celebrity endorsement
Specific models have been established to understand the influence of a communicator on consumer attitude. In the study of Hunter in 2009, the source credibility and source attractiveness are identified as two factors (Hunter, 2009). Source credibility consists trustworthiness and expertise. Expertise is the extent to which the communicator is regarded as source for valid assertion and trustworthiness is the extent of confidence in the assertions of the communicator. In the study of Khan et al., Physical appearance, turstworthiness of celebrities, expertises, congruent of celebrities might have impact on the effecitvness of celebrity endorsement as a marketing tool(Khan et al., 2016). In a similar study by Dom et al., attractivness, trustworthiness, expertise, and endorser and product fit will impact the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement (Dom et al., 2016).
According to to Patzer, physical attractiveness can serve as a source for attracting public attention in print and electronic media. Besides appearance, the credibility of the celebrity also plays a part. Celebrities with positive public image and good reputation are often considered as trustworthy since their reputation takes a long time and a vast of efforts to build up (Friedman and Friedman, 1976). Moreover, celebrities with expertise are regarded as credible, which indicates that the celebrities have high knowledge and experiences of the products (Woodside and Davenport, 1974). On the other hand, if the celebrities lack expertise in the product that they are recommending, the credibility might be impaired. Additionally, the match between the brand and the image of the celebrity also matters. For example, when Chinese NBA star Yao Ming first showed up in the advertisement for CDMA, a telecommunication company in China, people doubted the endorsement since the image of the celebrity does not fit the brand image of CDMA (Khan et al., 2016).
Cui Yongyuan was working on China Central Television(CCTV)as a hostand journalist before. The programs he hosted were very popular in China in the 1990s,even can be called asa symbol of an era. On social media which called Weibo in China, he has 1370 thousand of followers of his own account (Jing, 2017). It is theoretically right that people believe what did he said, because he can use his identity and experience to gain more trust on public.
In 2013, he filmed a documentary on genetically modified foods, in which he explored the safety issue of whether genetically modified foods are safe or not. The documentary was criticized for misleading the public. Fang Zhouzi, a well-known celebrity against pseudoscience and fraud in China, has debate on Weibo with Cui Yongyuan regarding the genetically modified foods. In 2015, during Cui’s speech in Fudan University, a professor from the Genetics Institute challenged Cui but Cui argued that the professor did not qualify for debating him (Sci-tecn, 2017a). Later in the same year, Cui was though as lacking common knowledge and skills in natural science since he reposted a fake news on poisonous chemical. Recently, he launched online business to sell organic food. Online platform Pokuton starts to sell 30 kinds of non GM products, such as grains, seasonings, and eggs. However, the price on the platform is much higher than regular products (Jing, 2017). He was criticized by some of the online users for being lacking expertise in non GM products and stepping into fields that are irrelevant to his previous image (Sci-tecn, 2017b). People doubt that Cui aims to take advantage of his public reputation to grow its highly profitable business.
3.2 Lack of expertise
The lack of expertise will decrease the credibility of the endorsement of celebrity for the brand. Cui is not the expert and he did not have previous knowledge in GM. In the documentary about GM, Cui violates the scientific reports and common sense. He did not make his judgment based on authoritative sources and scientific information but on emotional feelings with arbitrary conclusion and rumors as examples. Even the scientific experts questioned the science nature of Cui’s statement, including profession from Life science institute in Fudan university and the dean of the college of life science, Beijing University (Lynas, 2017). In order to make the endorsement effective, the celebrity has to be mature, experience, and expert in the product so that audience can find actual meaning of the endorsement. In fact, most of the statements by Cui is founded on his emotional feeing and personal judgments rather than scientific results. Pu Gu Tang mall was soon reported to have many problems, including excessively high price, the publication of false photos, suspicious standards. (Sci-tecn, 2017a). Lacking basic knowledge in chemistry and common background in science, Cui made arbitrary judgment for GM products and even attacks others on the micro blog with argument with no basis. In the field of food safety, the expertise dimension of the celebrity endorsement might be more valuable than attractiveness compared with other field such as clothes and fashion (Muda et al., 2017).
3.3 Lack of match between brand and the celebrity
Lack of match between brand and the celebrity will lead to ineffectiveness of celebrity endorsement. Cui had its previous impression as a wide and humorous journalist and program host in the past. He was perceived as being affable and as a pioneer in talk shows in China. During the National People’s Congress, he hosted a talk show with regional leaders in China, which is the first of this kind in this country and he made his presence several times in the CCTV New Year Gala (Lynas, 2017). Being a celebrity in the national TV channel, he has strong influence on the opinion of the public. However, when he started to advocate for the non GM products and then launched his non GM products business, some of the consumers started to doubt the credibility of his assertions. It seems that he tries to change his image to a businessman and a fighter against reverse gens with emotional vent type personal attacks. His public image of humor, wisdom, and elegance has gradually faded during his online debate through micro blog. People begin to doubt that his goal for advocating for organic food is the organic food business (Chicco, 2017).
The lack of direct match between brand and the celebrity might harm the image of the celebrity. The harm and damage on both personal and business image is mutual. In fact, currently, the micro blog of Cui Yongyuan has become a place for war of words. Since his left CCTV, he has most of his public image reflected in the micro blog, where he updates the posts every day to response to users and debate with opponents. On the other hand, the image of the brand that he endorses also suffers from the faded reputation of the celebrity. The inappropriate actions and personal issues have negative impact o the business (Sci-tecn, 2017b). While the brand of Pu Gu Tang mall received much attention due to hot debate on the micro blog of Cui, the business has also been questioned and remains controversy (Chicco, 2017).
The current new media has made it easier for famous person to influence the purchase intention and choice of the general public. At the same time, celebrities gain easier access to interact with the audience and make their opinion public. When companies and brands are choosing celebrities for their business, they should consider multiple dimensions regarding the celebrities, including attractiveness, expertise of the celebrity, and the extent of match between the product and the celebrity. In the case of Cui Yongyuan and the business of non GM products, the previous reputation and popularity of Cui helped the brand to improve brand awareness in the public. However, the change in image and the lack of expertise in GM food of Cui also bring negative impact on the business. People doubt the motivation of Cui when he involves into the business since his previous career and image seem little relevant to the non GM products. In addition, lack of relevant knowledge makes the assertion by Cui little convincing to the general public. On the other side, the image and reputation of Cui is also questioned and nearly collapses due to his involvement in the non-GM product business. Conclusion can be drawn that while celebrity endorsement has been constantly used as a marketing tool and has grown popularity in the era of new media, business should be careful to pick up the suitable celebrities to represent and add more assurance to the business by taking into account the match and the expertise of the celebrities.
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