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We like celebrities

June 8, 2010

3-D MRI of a section of the head.
Image via Wikipedia

Marketers use celebrities to pitch products. From sports stars to movie stars, fame sells products.

We know that.

But what’s interesting is that attractive people who aren’t famous don’t work as well. A new study called “Celebrities and shoes on the female brain: The neural correlates of product evaluation in the context of fame” aims to explain it by scanning our brains using an MRI. The results:

We find an increase in activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC) underlying the processing of celebrity–product pairings. This finding suggests that the effectiveness of celebrities stems from a transfer of positive affect from celebrity to product. Additional neuroimaging results indicate that this positive affect is elicited by the spontaneous retrieval of explicit memories associated with the celebrity endorser. Also, we demonstrate that neither the activation of implicit memories of earlier exposures nor an increase in attentional processing is essential for a celebrity advertisement to be effective. By explaining the neural mechanism of fame, our results illustrate how neuroscience may contribute to a better understanding of consumer behavior.”

The above is exerted from the abstract. The study costs money, but the abstract was interesting.

Fact is, celebrities remind us of cool moments. We associate with things they’ve done, be it movies we love, or sporting moments we can’t forget. The product gets to piggy-back on that reminder and becomes an additional association.

It’s not like its news. Still, when you see the brain spinning, it makes it seem more real.

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