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An Ethical Perspective on Necro-Advertising: The Moderating Effect of Brand Equity

Abstract : Necro-advertising refers to the use of deceased celebrities in advertising. This practice offers unique advantages to brands that seek to benefit from positive associations with timeless celebrities at a more affordable cost than celebrity endorsement. Nevertheless, how consumers actually respond to the use of deceased celebrities in advertising remains under-theorized. This research is the first to empirically examine consumers’ ethical judgments about necro-advertising practices. In particular, drawing from the signaling theory, it demonstrates the impact of consumer inferences about the existence of a legal agreement for using deceased celebrities’ images on brand ethicality. The results of two experimental studies show that a low-equity brand is more likely to be perceived as unethical when using necro-advertising since consumers have limited knowledge about these brands. Conversely, our findings confirm how a high level of equity prevents from the aforementioned adverse effects since these brands’ assets send a credible signal about their capability to get approval from a deceased celebrity’s estate for the use of its image. While deepening current knowledge on the perceived ethicality of necro-advertising practices, this research uncovers the moderating effect of equity on consumer inferences about brand ethicality. The results also suggest managerial caveats and guidelines for low-equity brands. In particular, while necro-advertising may have a negative impact on the perceived ethicality of low-equity brands, disclosing a statement about a contractual engagement with the deceased celebrity’s estate can mitigate this negative effect by providing an unequivocal signal that the brand is acting ethically.
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Contributor : Isabelle Celet Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, November 4, 2020 - 3:40:50 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, December 6, 2022 - 12:42:13 PM




Benjamin Boeuf, Jessica Darveau. An Ethical Perspective on Necro-Advertising: The Moderating Effect of Brand Equity. Journal of Business Ethics, 2019, 155 (4), pp.1077-1099. ⟨10.1007/s10551-017-3490-x⟩. ⟨hal-02988216⟩



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