You’ve Come a Long Way, Hello Kitty: Exploring Celebrity Spokescharacters and the Match-Up Hypothesis in Cosmetics Advertising
Kim Sheehan, Professor, Honor Program Coordinator
High-end cosmetics companies use characters from childhood, such as Hello Kitty and the Little Mermaid, to sell cosmetics to adult women. While such images may tap into adults’ positive nostalgic feelings, and advertisements featuring these images may stimulate these feelings, it is unclear how well images from childhood fit with adult women’s notions of the role of cosmetics: that is, to empower women through beauty. This study investigated how adult American women viewed four different advertisements for the cosmetics company MAC featuring three celebrity spokescharacters (Miss Piggy, Hello Kitty and Wonder Woman) and a traditional beautiful model. The research showed evidence for the match-up hypothesis, that is, that better fit was related to more positive evaluations of the ad and the brand. The study also showed that celebrity spokescharacters from a woman’s childhood do not generate feelings of beauty and empowerment as well as a traditional model, and variance among the celebrity spokescharacters exists as well.