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article imageDo celebrity drug endorsements work?

By Tim Sandle     Aug 24, 2014 in Health
New research reveals the common practice of using celebrity-endorsed drug adverts to offer treatments more credibility does not influence doctors when it comes to prescribing or strongly influencing consumers when they visit drug stores.
In the U.S. especially, where there are less controls over advertising prescription medicines, celebrities appear in drug and disease-specific adverts. Recently this has included actor Brooke Shields and singer Jessica Simpson.
To what extent do these celebrity driven advertising campaigns work? This was the research question posed by a report for the International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing.
The outcome of the study, Pharmaceutical News summarizes, was that the personal relevance of the adverts and not the celebrity selling them that has an impact on what consumers actually buy. For the research participants were randomly shown a fictitious print advert for a website offering depression advice.
In the study one group where shown either an image of actor Harrison Ford or actress Ashley Judd (both who have made public their issues with depression), while in the other group people where shown images that reflected the age and sex of the two celebrities — but changed their faces enough to make them look different, and were therefore not recognized as a celebrity. The researchers found that the majority of respondents went against recent research and viewed the celebrities within the ads as significantly more credible, but this did not reflect in their consumer behavior.
The study also found that it is the level of personal relevance to the advert which is the primary differentiating factor in consumer response. Therefore, the effect of the celebrity in the advert was independent of this factor.
Interviewed by PharamFile, Professor Brent Rollins, of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) and joint author of the study, said: “This research demonstrates that even if consumers deem the celebrity as more credible and pay significantly greater attention to the ad, it does not change the desire to act and search for more information, discuss the disease with their doctor or ask for a prescription.”
The study is titled “Impact of celebrity endorsements in disease-specific direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements.”
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