Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Research)


Cork Institute of Technology

First Advisor

Emmett Coffey

Second Advisor

Gearoid O Suilleabhain


A huge part of public relations in todays world is based around celebrity and their endorsements of brands, products, services and causes. The use of celebrity endorsement has become such a vital and trusted public relation tactic by so many PR practitioners to create a communication vessel between brand and consumer. This type of engagement between brands and their target audiences has become increasingly important to the Public Relations world for building long lasting and enduring relationships with these consumers and targeted audiences.

The aim of this research is to discover if celebrity endorsement makes an impact within public relations campaign, specifically looking at a mental health campaign.

The research will also look to identify what a celebrity is now defined as by people as the term is constantly evolving, why celebrity endorsement is chosen as a tactic and how companies select celebrities for a mental health campaign. I he study will also look at how effective the use of a chosen celebrity for a mental health effectively effected the chosen target public.

Although there has been some research into this area, there has not been a sufficient amount to justify a quantified approach so I chose a qualitative style of researching.

Public relations practitioners were chosen based on their expertise in the area of the specific mental health campaign chosen to investigate. These public relations practitioners have real knowledge about public relations and the world of celebrity endorsement. Following this a focus group of students who were involved in one of the initiatives to target a 13-18year old age group by the mental health campaign were selected. This focus group helped to discover how the targeted public was impacted by the tactic.

The extensive and varied findings would point to the idea that celebrity endorsement is indeed an influential public relations tactic that is used for many reasons. The beliefs would suggest that it is successful in : strengthening media relations, creating more media coverage, it enhances reputation, it projects company and campaign messages and it also proves to maximise brand value and consumer loyalty.

The academic literature showed a number of different models which could be used in the choosing of a celebrity which were used by the public relations professionals but none were used completely. In general the Match Up model was used to guarantee a correct fit between celebrity and the cause.

The target audiences opinions in the focus group were in agreement with the public relations choice of one of the celebrities chosen for the mental health campaign but not of another celebrity. In general the focus group felt strongly that physical attractiveness had nothing to do with the success of the celebrity in this mental health campaign and so were in agreement that having a celebrity with a strong connection to mental health issues was key to the integrity of the campaign.

In regard to future research I have made some recommendations that could be explored in this topic that may help other students of public relations and professionals in the industry both nationally and internationally.

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