Anthropomorphism in CSR Endorsement: A Comparative Study on Humanlike vs. Cartoonlike Virtual Influencers’ Climate Change Messaging

Jeongwon Yang, Ploypin Chuenterawong, Heejae Lee, T. Makana Chock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In recent years, a new form of influencer marketing, led by virtual ambassadors has appeared. Motivated by virtual influencers’ (VI) potentials as corporate social responsibility (CSR) messengers, the study (1) compared the persuasive power of VIs with different humanness; and (2) examined how humanness and endorser-CSR fit interplay in affecting source credibility via drawing upon the expectancy violation theory. An online experiment with a two (type of VI: humanlike vs. cartoonlike) × two (endorser-CSR fit: high vs. low) between-subjects design has been conducted via prolific (N = 202). As a result, there was no interaction effect between fit and type of endorser. Further, VIs with higher humanness predicted higher trustworthiness, expertise, and attractiveness. Lastly, higher expertise and trustworthiness elicited higher CSR engagement intention. Attractiveness and trustworthiness positively affected brand attitude, as trustworthiness was found to be the strongest predictor and the only mediator to affect both CSR engagement and brand attitude. Delving into what enhances VIs’ persuasiveness and how the subsequent effects influence consumers’ attitudes about the endorsed message reveals the social media marketing potential of VIs to serve as effective communicators between consumers and brands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Promotion Management
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • corporate social responsibility
  • expectancy violation theory
  • influencer marketing
  • source credibility
  • Virtual influencers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Anthropomorphism in CSR Endorsement: A Comparative Study on Humanlike vs. Cartoonlike Virtual Influencers’ Climate Change Messaging'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this