Informations and abstract
Keywords: Celebrity Endorsement; Ambassador; Outdoor; Mountaineering; Brand Value.
The commercial promotion of products and services through celebrity endorsement is becoming increasingly common, as it is believed to strengthen brand awareness and reputation. In the "outdoor&mountaineering" industry, champions in the various sports/activities are signed up as brand ambassadors, and testify to the quality and utility of particular products. Sponsorship and endorsement agreement are a consolidated strategy to promote both a brand and specific products, and to strengthen that brand's relationship with practitioners and enthusiasts (with social media playing an ever increasing role). Businesses also benefit from athletes' expert opinions on products, which they test in extreme conditions in order to provide pre-launch feedback. Our paper examines the strategies of the main businesses operating in the sector, and assesses the (expected and actual) effects of celebrity endorsement on brand image and competitive positioning. Data was collected through personal, semi-structured interviews with the Italian representatives of eight companies and the analysis of the relevant company websites. The study is doubly innovative. First, in its analysis of a strongly growing industrial sector which has heretofore been little investigated from the marketing and communications perspective; secondly, because the responses to our research questions have given us valuable insights into the topic, enabling us to contribute to the debate on the evolution of branding in a commodity category in which consumer experience is key and the effects of community and the need for innovative communication methods based on the creation of brand credibility and loyalty are very evident.