A risk of meaning transfer: Are negative associations more likely to transfer than positive associations?

Margaret C. Campbell, Caleb Warren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Celebrity endorsement is a common influence tactic used by marketers. By linking their brands with cultural entities such as celebrity endorsers, marketers attempt to acquire positive meanings and personality traits associated with the entity. Entities, however, often have both positive and negative associations. For example, a celebrity can be both smart and arrogant, or sexy and ditsy. We highlight a risk of meaning transfer: negative associations are more likely to transfer to a brand than positive associations. Three studies show that brands are more likely to acquire the negative than the positive personality traits associated with a celebrity endorser and that negative associations transfer even under conditions that inhibit the transfer of positive associations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-192
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Influence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Associations
  • Brand meaning
  • Brand personality
  • Celebrity endorsement
  • Meaning transfer
  • Negativity bias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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