The effects of association strength on attention and product evaluation: Reconsidering endorsement effectiveness

Yonghwan Chang, Yong Jae Ko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to test whether endorsements that show a low strength of association (bottom-up bias) benefit from increased attention and processing efforts. The current study also tested whether consumer involvement level (top-down bias) dynamically interacts with the bottom-up attention phenomena. Design/methodology/approach: Through a series of pretests, 36 potential celebrity-product matches were identified using real athletes and product brands. Two experiments were conducted: 330 individual responses (110 participants × three conditions) were obtained in a within-subjects lab experiment, and 868 participants were recruited for a between-subjects online experiment. Linear mixed modeling and moderated mediation analysis were performed. Findings: The relationships between the strength of image associations and attention time to endorsements and recall and choice consideration of endorsed brands were U-shaped and curvilinear. Attention largely mediated the relationship between the strength of association and recall/choice. Involvement effects were diluted by the strength of association effects, rejecting top-down attentional control. Practical implications: Brand managers for both products and celebrities are recommended to search for corresponding not only image-matched partners but also endorsement partners with dissonant pre-existing images. Originality/value: The majority of the existing endorsement literature has conventionally suggested that congruence between the endorser and the endorsed property, rather than incongruence, induces consumers’ positive endorsement evaluation. This study constructs important theoretical advancements to the existing literature by empirically proving that through an attentional process, an endorsement contract, conventionally perceived as mismatched, can also generate positive outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1257-1279
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Association strength
  • Attention
  • Cognitive dissonance
  • Endorsement effectiveness
  • Mismatch


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