There's something about Jena Malone: New insights into how celebrities appeal to consumers

Markus Wohlfeil, Susan Whelan

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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Although the public demand for celebrities has grown so strong these days that they have without any doubt become an essential part of our everyday lives and contemporary market economy, the marketing literature has paid scant attention to them beyond their mere potential as product endorsers. Therefore, this paper explores how celebrities capture our attention and appeal to us personally. In doing so, it seeks to explain in particular how and why consumers become emotionally attached to one celebrity, but remain indifferent to many other equally talented, interesting and attractive ones. Drawing on introspective insights from the author’s own personal fan relationship with the film actress Jena Malone and consumer responses from previous ethnographic studies of celebrity fans, the paper examines what the substance of a celebrity is and how it appeals to the individual consumer. The study finds that the substance of a celebrity consists of four key human brand attributes through which s/he appeals to consumers as a) the performer, b) the real person underneath the performer, c) the tangible manifestation of both through products, and c) the social link to other consumers.
Original languageEnglish
Pageson USB
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Event2011 Annual Academy of Marketing Conference - University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Duration: 1 Jan 2011 → …


Conference2011 Annual Academy of Marketing Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period1/01/11 → …
Internet address


  • celebrity fandom
  • Film star fandom
  • celebrity appeal
  • consumer interest
  • movie enjoyment
  • emotional attachment
  • autoethnography
  • introspection
  • Subjective personal introspection
  • Consumer behaviour
  • Consumer Culture Theory
  • celebrity culture
  • consumer-brand relationship
  • human brands

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