The Meaning Transfer Model

The Meaning Transfer Model

McCracken (1989) explained the effectiveness of celebrity endorsers by assessing the meanings that the consumer associated with the endorser and eventually transfer to the brand by suggesting a three stages meaning transfer model. First, when a celebrity endorses a product in an advertisement, the audience forms associations. The meaning associated with the famous person moves from the endorser to the product or brand. The meaning attribute to the celebrity becomes associated with the brand in consumer??™s mind. Eventually, in the consumption phase, the meaning is transferred from the product to the consumers.
Stage three explicitly showed the importance of consumer decisions in the process of transferring the meaning to brand or company. This is an interesting part as there is neither automatic transfer of meaning nor any automatic transformation of the self. Consumer must claim the meanings then work with them. As the celebrity provides certain meanings in material form, consumers are keen to build a self from them.
The concern here is the audience or consumer. The main objective of the marketing communication programs is to touch the audience hearts and minds while creating an image of success and prosperity for them when they use the products. Hence, the communication programs chose must convey the information in the form, space, and time that audience expects. And it needs to make them feel good about themselves and their life, in general. This idea is shared by Kambitsis, Harahousou, Theodorakis, & Chatzibeis (2002), who found that the personality of athletes as being an important factor in influencing specific target groups where the personalities are easily recognize and much admired.

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Celebrity spokespersons are useful in marketing because they provide a set of characteristics that supports consumers in evaluating the presented brand (Martin, 1996). Hence, it is important for company to select the celebrity who has the appropriate response from consumers. In the case of high-involvement situation, celebrities were found to be appropriate, especially where the social and psychological risks are perceived to be high (Atkins & Block, 1983; H. H. Friedman & Friedman, 1978).

Nature of the Source

The nature of source (the celebrity) is important in order to have a successful celebrity representing a company??™s product successfully. Research conducted critically evaluates different ideas about factors deemed to be important in the nature of source although some may be perceived to be similar and overlap.

2.3.1 McCracken??™s Three Stage ???Meaning Transfer Model???

In order to understand importance of the sources attributes in the celebrity endorsement relationship, McCracken??™s Three Stage ???Meaning Transfer Model??? (McCracken, 1989) shows how celebrities are viewed as symbolic icons by brands and a range of meanings can be transferred across different cultures to the consumer.

There are three stages of the process as shown in Figure 2.5. The process shows images, meanings and associations initially from the celebrity are transferred to the product which results in consumer awareness and product purchases.

Figure 2.5: An adaptation of McCracken??™s three Stage ???Meaning Transfer Model??? ??“ McCracken (1989)

The meanings in stage 1 include demographic categories as well as other personality and lifestyle traits from the endorser (source). By having a range of different personality traits raises the importance of having similarities with the target audience (Shrimp, 2010).

This model supports the idea the nature of the source is imperative as it conveys the correct message to the targeted consumer. For example, the personality and image of Jennifer Aniston as the ???Actress from next door??™ (Buncombe, 2006) from her role as Rachael from the TV series ???Friends??? symbolises there is not one single meaning for the actress however, there are a variety of different characteristics which stimulate deeper meanings in the mass media.

McCracken (1989) highlights a famous person, whether a sportsperson or celebrity, represents a variety of meanings. Furthermore, Martin (1998) identifies the use of McCracken??™s theory as it provides a ???set of characteristics??? marketing teams are able to characterise their brand and influence consumers. In conclusion, McCracken??™s model compliments findings by Shrimp (2010) to conclude celebrities are used for their similarities to add multiple meaning, value, depth and power to a product or brand.

This theory has been further expanded to The Cultural Meaning Transfer Theory (McCracken, 1989.) The theory suggests meanings are consumed when purchases are made, as addition to the product. The findings are conclusive however it looks into subliminal messages in the celebrity and for the purposes of this analysis it is not relevant.

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