Mapping the Celebrity Endorsement of Branded Food and Beverage Products and Marketing Campaigns in the United States, 1990–2017
Hedrick, Valisa E.
Rincón-Gallardo Patiño, Sofia
Polys, Nicholas F.
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Celebrity endorsement used to promote energy-dense and nutrient-poor (EDNP) food and beverage products may contribute to poor dietary habits. This study examined celebrity endorsement of branded food and beverage products and marketing campaigns in the United States (US) from 1990 to 2017. Celebrity endorsement data were collected from peer-reviewed and grey literature. Interactive data visualizations were created for the endorsement relationships between celebrities, companies and products whose nutritional profiles were compared with the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Smart Snacks Standards. Logistic regression was used to explore associations between celebrities’ demographic profiles and the nutritional profiles of products. Results showed 542 celebrities were associated with 732 endorsements representing 120 brands of 59 companies across 10 food and beverage categories. Two thirds (67.2%; n = 80) of the brands represented EDNP products that did not align with the USDA’s Smart Snacks Standards. Logistic regression analysis indicated that Millennial (p = 0.008) and male celebrities (p = 0.041) were more likely to endorse EDNP products than Generation Z teen and female celebrities, respectively. No statistical significance was observed for celebrities of other demographic profiles. This study may inform future policies and actions of the US government, industry, researchers and consumer advocacy organizations to use celebrity endorsement to promote healthy food environments for Americans.