You are on page 1of 15

193

Official Journal of NASSM


www.JSM-Journal.com
ARTICLE
Journal of Sport Management, 2013, 27, 193-206
2013 Human Kinetics, Inc.
Carlson is with the Dept. of Marketing, Saint Louis University,
St. Louis, MO. Donavan is with the Dept. of Marketing, Colo-
rado State University, Fort Collins, CO.
Human Brands in Sport:
Athlete Brand Personality and Identification
Brad D. Carlson
Saint Louis University
D. Todd Donavan
Colorado State University
By integrating social identity theory with brand personality, the authors test a model of how perceptions of
human brands affect consumers level of cognitive identifcation. The fndings suggest that consumers view
athletes as human brands with unique personalities. Additional fndings demonstrate that athlete prestige and
distinctiveness leads to the evaluation of athlete identifcation. Once consumers identifed with the athlete,
they were more likely to feel an emotional attachment to the athlete, identify with the athletes team, purchase
team-related paraphernalia and increase their team-related viewership habits. The fndings extend previous
research on human brands and brand personalities in sports. Marketers can use the information gleaned from
this study to better promote products that are closely associated with well-recognized and attractive athletes,
thereby increasing consumer retail spending. In addition, the fndings offer new insights to sports marketers
seeking to increase team-related spectatorship by promoting the image of easily recognizable athletes.
Many collegiate and professional athletes achieve individ-
ual celebrity status among fans. As a result, athletes such
as LeBron James, David Beckham, and Roger Federer
have become human brands, driving retail sales of prod-
ucts associated with their names and images. The term
human brand has been used to describe any well-known
persona who is the subject of marketing communications
efforts (Thomson, 2006). Given the popularity of athletes
among consumers, numerous frms tie their brands to
successful athletes with the expectation that doing so will
transfer the athletes positive attributes onto the brand. In
many cases, these athletes are chosen because they are
perceived to have a strong connection with consumers.
This connection has been described as identifcation, or an
overlap between the consumers schema and the entitys
schema (Bergami & Bagozzi, 2000). However, questions
still remain as to what makes consumers connect (i.e.,
identify) with one athlete and not another.
Celebrities represent human brands that are profes-
sionally manageable and possess additional associations
and features of traditional brands (Thomson, 2006). While
organizations such as the National Basketball Associa-
tion (N.B.A.) have made concerted efforts to emphasize
individual players when promoting games, little is known
about the variables that infuence fan identifcation with
individual athletes, and the subsequent effects on team-
related outcomes. A growing body of research suggests
that the attraction to these entities may be a result of a
brand personality (Aaker, 1997; Carlson, Donavan, &
Cumiskey, 2009). Specifcally, Aaker suggested that a
brand personality often increases the consumers con-
nection with the brand. Carlson et al. (2009) explored
relationships between the brand personality of a sports
team and the related consumer outcomes of identifcation,
viewing team performances, and retail spending. Their
fndings reveal that specifc brand personality attributes,
rather than general brand personality dimensions, infu-
ence team identifcation and, ultimately, team-related
consumption behaviors. We investigate consumer connec-
tions with sports teams by considering individual athletes
as human brands, thus extending the work of Carlson et
al. (2009). Further, we argue that the brand personality
attributes of an individual athlete may also lead consum-
ers to increased identifcation and ultimately increased
team-related consumption behaviors. Because athletes
can be considered brands in their own right (Thomson,
2006), understanding how consumers perceive athletes
as human brands may provide additional insight into
brand-consumer relationships that drive team-related
consumption behaviors.
This research investigates the extent to which brand
personality attributes of professional athletes infuence
consumer-brand relationships with a professional sports
team. Social identity theory is used as a framework for a
model that predicts consumer connections with athletes and
194 Carlson and Donavan
the team, retail spending and number of games watched. In
this study, the model proposed by Carlson et al. (2009) in
a sports team context (Figure 1) is extended to incorporate
individual athletes as human brands that infuence team-
related outcomes. The fndings suggest that athlete identif-
cation (athlete ID) has unique predictors, as well as a direct
impact on athlete attachment, team identifcation (team ID),
retail spending and the number of games watched.
Identification
In recent years, researchers have investigated social iden-
tifcation as it relates to consumer-company identifcation
(Bhattacharya & Sen, 2003), sport identifcation (Gwin-
ner & Bennett, 2008), and team identifcation (Carlson et
al., 2009; Donavan, Carlson, & Zimmerman, 2005a; Fink,
Parker, Brett & Higgins, 2009; Kwon, Trail, & James,
2007; Madrigal & Chen, 2008). Identifcation has been
described as a oneness with or belongingness with an
entity where the individual defnes him or herself in terms
of the entity to which he or she is a member (Mael &
Ashforth, 1992, p. 104). More recently, distinctions have
been made between the cognitive (i.e., identifcation),
affective (i.e., affective commitment) and evaluative
(i.e., group-based self esteem) aspects of social identity,
with identifcation conceptualized as a cognitive state in
which the individual comes to view him- or herself as a
member of a social entity (Bergami & Bagozzi, 2000).
Thus, when an individual strongly identifes with an
entity, an overlap exists between ones self-schema and
the entitys schema. Strong identifcation has been linked
to increased event attendance (Bhattacharya, Rao, &
Glynn, 1995), increased purchase intentions (Gwinner
& Bennett, 2008; Gwinner & Swanson, 2003; Kwon,
Trail, & James, 2007), increased spending (Kwon &
Armstrong, 2002; Lichtenstein, Drumwright, & Braig,
2004), and increased viewership (Carlson et al., 2009).
Identifcation can be explained from a social identity
theory perspective. The theory posits that individuals make
sense of the world by categorizing themselves and others
into groups, and self-categorization into a group (e.g., I
am a Manchester United fan) serves a self-defnitional
role (Hogg, Terry, & White, 1995). The various social
categories to which one belongs (e.g., soccer enthusiasts)
contribute to his or her social identity (Hogg et al., 1995;
Tajfel & Turner, 1985). Consumers are drawn to teams
that have a strong similarity to their own actual or ideal
self (Carlson et al., 2009; Fink et al., 2009; Madrigal &
Chen, 2008). Likewise, consumers should be drawn to
individual athletes perceived to be similar to their own
actual or ideal self (Funk & James, 2001). Ultimately,
identifcation provides a means to proclaim in-group
affliations while simultaneously distinguishing oneself
from various out-groups. For example, fans often wear
athletic paraphernalia to show their in-group affliation
with a particular team or athlete and to demonstrate
that they are not part of the rival out-group. Thus, social
identity theory offers a useful theoretical framework for
examining consumer affliations with human brands.
Within the identification literature, two main
characteristics routinely predict a persons identifca-
tion: prestige (Bhattacharya et al., 1995; Gwinner &
Swanson, 2003) and distinctiveness (Ashforth & Mael,
1989; Mael & Ashforth, 1992). While prestige refers to
Figure 1 Conceptual model of athlete identifcation.
Human Brands in Sport 195
the exclusivity, respect, and status of the entity (Davies,
Chun, da Silva, & Roper, 2004), distinctiveness relates
to how the entity is different from all other competitors
(Holt, 1995). The fndings of Carlson et al. (2009) sug-
gest that the prestige and distinctiveness of a sports team
is infuenced by various brand personality attributes.
However, it remains unclear how an individual athlete
attains a desirable level of prestige and/or distinctive-
ness. To consider this question, we adopt the perspective
of athletes as human brands that possess unique brand
personalities. Prior research reveals that brand person-
ality affects consumers brand attitudes (Aaker, 1997),
attitudes toward sporting event sponsors (Lee & Cho,
2009), and team identifcation (Carlson et al., 2009).
We argue that brand personality attributes will directly
infuence perceptions of prestige and distinctiveness,
thereby infuencing identifcation, and ultimately team
viewership and retail spending. The relationships are
illustrated in Figure 1.
Brand Personality
Aaker (1997, p. 347) defned brand personality as the set
of human characteristics associated with a brand. How-
ever, this defnition is arguably too broad as it embraces
nearly everything related to human beings and applied to
brands, regardless of how relevant it may be for brand-
ing. Thus, consistent with Azoulay and Kapferer (2003),
we conceptualize brand personality as the set of human
personality states that are both applicable to and relevant
for brands. Specifcally, brand personality attributes are
adjectives used to describe brands.
Consumers often assign various and unique person-
alities to brands, such as Apple being hip and cool. The
consumption of branded products allows consumers to
express their own self (Belk, 1988), through associating
oneself with the particular attributes and personality of
the brand (Aaker, 1997). Similar to forming a relationship
with other people, consumers often acquire relationships
with brands (Fournier, 1998). Aaker et al. (2004) suggest
that each exchange partners personality traits affect the
relationship. Thus, brands that possess a desirable person-
ality will provide a greater opportunity for the consumer
to develop a strong relationship with the brand. Although
many companies fnd it appealing to be associated with
a professional athlete, it is the culturally derived mean-
ings (i.e., brand personality attributes) associated with
the athlete that makes such associations proftable. The
unique human personality traits possessed by individual
athletes are largely unobservable by the public. As such,
athletes, and celebrities in general, tend to infuence brand
related attitudes and behaviors by creating and maintain-
ing a symbolic brand personality that is congruent with
the consumers actual or ideal self.
The concept of brand personality has received con-
siderable attention in marketing and sport management
research (e.g., Azoulay & Kapferer, 2003; Braunstein &
Ross, 2010; Carlson et al., 2009; Heere, 2010). However,
little consensus exists as to the most effective measure-
ment of the construct across contexts and multiple
authors have uncovered limitations of the scale originally
proposed by Aaker (Azoulay & Kapferer, 2003; Heere,
2010). Specifcally, it has been argued that the brand per-
sonality scale lacks conceptual completeness and validity.
For instance, in contrast to Goldbergs (1992) fve-factor
scale of human personality, Aakers brand personal-
ity scale does not include synonym-antonym response
choices (e.g., charmingdull). While this may somewhat
restrict the scope of the concept, such restrictiveness may
be useful for marketing managers. Unlike psychological
assessments of personality that are intended to provide a
deep, detailed description of an individuals personality,
the usefulness of the brand personality construct lies in
its ability to provide brand managers with a manageable
list of key adjectives that describe their brand.
In an effort to address the conceptual validity of the
construct, Heere (2010) proposed that managers develop
their own list of brand personality attributes and then
compare consumer and manager perceptions of the brand
on each attribute. However, such an approach measures
the gap between manager and consumer perceived
brand personality rather than actual brand personality.
Braunstein and Ross (2010) attempted to reexamine the
general brand personality dimensions while account-
ing for the unique characteristics of sports, but failed
to produce dimensions that demonstrated discriminant
validity. Considering previous research on the topic and
given the diversity of product types, attempting to use
a unifed measure for all brands seems both unneces-
sary and inherently fawed (Heere, 2010). Although it is
important to note potential challenges associated with
Aakers scale, the aim of this research is to expand the
model of consumer-brand relationships in sport as pro-
posed by Carlson et al. (2009) rather than to refne the
measurement properties of the brand personality scale. As
such, the scale proposed by Aaker represents a useful and
appropriate starting point for evaluating brand personality
attributes applied to athletes.
The framework for consumer-brand relationships
in sport proposed by Carlson et al. (2009) serves as the
basis for this study. They found that some of the attributes
comprising the original dimensions of brand personality
proposed by Aaker (1997) were not suitable for the context
of evaluating basketball team personalities as items such
as outdoorsy offer little descriptive value (e.g., basket-
ball teams and players are typically not perceived to be
outdoorsy). However, each of the brand personality attri-
butes used in their study was representative of the original
fve dimensions of brand personality proposed by Aaker
(1997). Although the validity of the operationalization
of each dimension has received some criticism, utilizing
each dimension is useful for ensuring a broad combina-
tion of brand personality attributes. This also allows for
some necessary fexibility in measuring brand personality
across multiple contexts while staying within a unifed
conceptual framework. Consistent with such an approach,
we investigate each of the fve dimensions of brand per-
sonality by utilizing the individual attributes identifed by
Carlson et al. (2009). This allows for a direct extension of
the framework proposed in their research by incorporating
196 Carlson and Donavan
the role of specifc athletes in predicting team-related
consumption behaviors. Thus, we are interested in fve
attributes of athlete brand personality: wholesome (e.g.,
NFL quarterback Peyton Manning); imaginative (e.g.,
professional snowboarder Shaun White); successful (e.g.,
Tennis Star Roger Federer); charming (e.g., professional
soccer player David Beckham); and tough (e.g., American
Football quarterback Brett Favre). These fve personality
attributes have the potential of affecting the consumers
identifcation with the human brand.
States Versus Traits
To apply brand personality to athletes, it is important to
frst have an understanding of the difference between
human personality and brand personality. The research
into human personality focuses around innate traits (Frid-
handler, 1986) of the Big Five: extraversion, agreeabil-
ity, openness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability
(Barrick & Mount, 1991; Brown, 2002). These basic
traits result from heredity and upbringing (Fridhandler,
1986), and are universally defned as highly enduring
over a persons lifetime (Allport, 1961; Costa, McCrae,
& Arenberg, 1980). Overall, traits are stable, long-lasting
and internally caused (Chaplin, John, & Goldberg, 1988).
Contrary to the trait schema of human personality, we
contend that brand personality is a state rather than a trait.
States are temporary, brief and caused by external circum-
stances (Chaplin, John, & Goldberg, 1988). We argue that
brand personality is a dynamic amalgamation of unique attri-
butes (i.e., brand adjectives) working together to create an
overall personality for a brand. Although human and brand
personality may overlap to some extent, human personality
is different from brand personality (Aaker, 1997; Caprara,
Barbaranelli, & Guido, 2001; Lee & Cho, 2009). While
athlete endorsers clearly possess unique human personalities
(i.e., traits), the endorsers ability to infuence consumers
rests in his/her ability to create and manage a desirable
brand personality (i.e., states). Athlete brand personality
states are formed through observable characteristics such
as media depictions, endorsed product associations, and
sport associations. Thus, brand personality represents the
characteristics that consumers associate with a human brand.
Multiple examples illustrate the difference between
traits and states. Athletes such as Tiger Woods, Michael
Vick, and Mark McGwire possess both human personality
traits and brand personality states. From the traits perspec-
tive, each athletes personality is a combination of the big
fve personality traits. These traits may, or may not be
evident to the general public (Brown, Mowen, Donavan,
& Licata, 2002). However, the brand personality that sport
fans associate with each athlete is a state rather than a trait.
As mentioned, states are temporary, brief and caused by
external circumstances (Chaplin, et al., 1988). For years
the brand personalities of Tiger Woods, Michael Vick,
and Mark McGwire, based on the Aaker (1997) dimen-
sions, were viewed by many to be wholesome and sincere.
Following widespread media coverage of controversies
related to marital infdelity, dog fghting, and steroid use
accusations, each athletes brand personality drastically
changed. Following their individual controversies, these
athletes were no longer perceived as wholesome and
sincere. Most consumers have no way to assess whether
the Big Five traits that comprise each athletes human
personality remained constant or shifted during the times
of these controversies. However, consumers were able to
assess the change in each athletes brand personality fol-
lowing the controversies. Ultimately, the brand personality
of each athlete shifted in response to consumer percep-
tions of the human brand. Hence, celebrity athletes have
both human and brand personalities based on their traits
and states respectively. The focus of this study is on the
athletes brand personality states because it is observable
by the general public and due to its impact on the athletes
ability to persuade consumers.
Hypothesis Development
Social identity theory posits that individuals are motivated
to associate with entities that will enhance ones own
identity (Tajfel & Turner, 1985). Associating oneself
with brand personalities that are perceived as desirable
by most consumers is self-enhancing. Thus, individuals
may be attracted to various brand personalities due to the
psychological benefts of such associations. For instance,
consuming brands that possess both successful and tough
personality attributes may reinforce an individuals aspira-
tional goals (Aaker, 1997). Correspondingly, sport fans are
commonly drawn toward popular athletes because being
associated with the athletes brand personality attributes
may enhance their own self-image. For example, assum-
ing that Roger Federer possesses the brand personality
attributes of successful and charming, sport fans are able
to show that they strongly value both success and charm
by associating themselves with his image. Conversely,
individuals who prefer a radical self-image may choose
to disassociate themselves with Roger Federer.
According to social identity theory, individuals
demonstrate membership in a particular social category
by associating oneself with a brand, thus creating a
social identity. For instance, consumers often gain status
by associating with a particular team (Cialdini et al.,
1976). Likewise, individuals may gain social status by
associating with a desirable athlete. It has been recently
demonstrated that teams have unique personalities that
predict their prestige and distinctiveness (Carlson et al.,
2009). In the team study, brand personality attributes
differentiated the team from competitors (i.e., enhanced
distinctiveness) and further elevated the brand prestige.
These brand personality attributes, although diverse in
nature, are anticipated to have a similar signifcant infu-
ence on evaluations of both prestige and distinctiveness
of individual athletes. Thereafter, each unique attribute
represents a characteristic that contributes to the overall
image of the human brand.
As noted by Carlson et al. (2009), brand personal-
ity attributes are far more contextually specifc than
more general group characteristics such as prestige and
distinctiveness. Although important to consider, it is
Human Brands in Sport 197
diffcult to anticipate the differences between contexts of
investigation, as the factors that comprise a prestigious
image in one domain (e.g., the NFL) may be associ-
ated with a lack of prestige in another context (e.g., the
PGA). Therefore, consistent with previous research, our
investigation into the infuence of the brand personal-
ity attributes on prestige and distinctiveness is largely
exploratory in nature as these relationships have yet to
be investigated in this context.
H1: Brand personality has a direct effect on prestige.
Specifcally, (a) imaginative; (b) successful; (c)
charming; (d) tough; and (e) wholesome will have
a positive effect on prestige.
H2: Brand personality has a direct effect on distinc-
tiveness. Specifcally, (a) imaginative; (b) successful;
(c) charming; (d) tough; and (e) wholesome will have
a positive effect on distinctiveness.
Both prestige and distinctiveness can lead to
higher levels of identifcation (Bhattacharya et al.,
1995). Social identity research reveals that in addition
to seeking self-enhancement, people need to distin-
guish themselves from out-groups and simultaneously
demonstrate a commonality with the in-group (Tajfel
& Turner, 1985). Individuals create their own unique
social identity by associating with numerous groups.
This can be further understood by considering that
consumers often transfer the success of others on to
themselves (Cialdini et al., 1976). Thus, consistent with
SIT principles, associating oneself with entities that are
perceived to be prestigious and distinct, such as athletes
with desirable brand personalities, serves to help express
a consumers own identity (Belk, 1988; Gwinner &
Swanson, 2003). By association, the consumer com-
municates to the social world their own prestige and
distinctiveness. Therefore, consumers may be more
likely to identify with athletes who are perceived as
prestigious and/or distinctive.
H3: Prestige has a positive effect on athlete ID.
H4: Distinctiveness has a positive effect on athlete
ID.
While awareness of ones membership in a social
group (self-categorization) encapsulates the idea of a cog-
nitive component of ones social identity, it is important
to consider emotional components as well. The fndings
of Bergami and Bagozzi (2000) reveal that cognitive
and emotional components of social identity are both
conceptually and empirically distinct and that cogni-
tive identifcation has a signifcant effect on emotional
attachment. Consumers often form emotional connections
with human brands and the strength of these attachments
may be infuenced by the extent to which the relationship
confers emotional security (Thomson, 2006). According
to social identity theory, individuals are motivated to
enhance their self-esteem, and ultimately their emotional
security (Tajfel & Turner, 1985). Consequently, the extent
to which an individual identifes with an athlete should
have a positive effect on ones attachment to the athlete.
Consistent with this reasoning, Heere, James, Yoshida,
and Scremin (2011) found that identifcation with a target
group (e.g., sport team) was infuenced by an individuals
identifcation with an associated group (e.g., university,
state) when the target group is perceived to represent the
group. In addition, Thomson (2006) suggests that human
brands, to which consumers are attached, offer signif-
cant potential as endorsers. Thus, professional athletes
are direct endorsers of their respective teams. Given that
athletes represent an important brand association for
their team (Gladden & Funk, 2002), and that consumers
ultimately identify with these teams, it is expected that
athlete ID will have a positive infuence on team ID.
H5: Athlete ID has a positive effect on (a) athlete
attachment; and (b) team ID.
According to social identity theory, self-
categorization into a group serves a self-defnitional
role that helps individuals make sense of the world (Hogg
et al., 1995; Tajfel & Turner, 1985). Consumers identify
with famous athletes because they are perceived to be
symbolic of desirable reference groups. Specifcally,
highly visible professional athletes develop communi-
ties of loyal followers who seek transference of positive
attributes associated with the athlete onto their own
self-schema. For example, through identifying with NFL
quarterback Aaron Rogers, Green Bay Packers fans asso-
ciate themselves more closely with other Packers fans.
The image congruence hypothesis proposes that con-
sumption behavior is geared toward enhancing the self-
concept through the consumption of products that provide
symbolic meanings (Grubb & Grathwol, 1967). Because
associating with an athlete enhances ones self-concept,
individuals who identify with an athlete will demonstrate
behavioral consequences that demonstrate their associa-
tion to the athlete. For example, consumers may purchase
items associated with the athlete as gifts (i.e., symbol
passing) or personal souvenirs (i.e., symbol collecting) to
demonstrate their relationship with the athlete (Donavan,
Janda, & Suh, 2006). Moreover, a motivation to behave in
ways consistent with group norms, such as watching the
athlete compete or purchasing memorabilia, is common
among individuals who perceive membership in a group
(e.g., I am a Lebron James fan; McAlexander, Schouten,
& Koenig, 2002).
H6: Athlete ID has a positive effect on (a) the number
of games watched; and (b) retail purchases of team
products.
Social identity theory research reveals that self-
categorization provides a cognitive basis for performing
behaviors that demonstrate group membership (e.g.,
purchasing team merchandise). However, beyond the
cognitive infuence, emotional attachment to an entity
provides a motivational force for engaging in such behav-
iors (Bergami & Bagozzi, 2000). Hence, attachment to the
human brand should be a direct determinant of behaviors
including retail spending and watching games.
H7: Athlete attachment has a positive effect on (a) the
number of games watched; and (b) retail spending.
198 Carlson and Donavan
Previous fndings reveal that team ID has a signifcant
infuence on games watched and retail spending (Carlson
et al., 2009; Gwinner & Swanson, 2003). Consumers
often buy items, as gifts or for themselves, to demonstrate
their relationship with the team (Donavan et al., 2006).
Consistent with social identity theory, individuals who
perceive membership in a group (e.g., I am a Manchester
United fan) are motivated to exhibit behaviors and inten-
tions, such as regularly watching the team compete, that
are consistent with group norms. Thus, it is anticipated
that team ID will have a signifcant infuence on number
of games watched and retail spending.
H8: Team ID has a positive effect on (a) the number
of games watched; and (b) retail spending.
Methodology
Sample
As a population of interest we had fans of a prominent
American football team respond to a questionnaire
designed to capture the respondents evaluations of brand
personality, as well as athlete prestige and distinctiveness,
athlete ID, team ID, athlete attachment, the amount spent
on purchasing team apparel, and the number of games
watched. Students enrolled in undergraduate marketing
classes at a major university in the United States were
given an extra credit opportunity for recruiting four study
participants. In addition, subjects were offered an incen-
tive for participation. Students were trained on how to
recruit respondents and given strict guidelines on the fol-
lowing respondent characteristics: all respondents must
consider themselves a fan of the team being investigated;
all respondents must be over 18 years of age; two out of
four respondents must be 30 years of age or above; three
out of four respondents may not be students at the uni-
versity; and two out of four respondents must be opposite
gender. In doing so, the sample refected a diverse group
of individuals. Two hundred twenty-six (226) participants
were recruited to complete the questionnaire. Fifty-two
percent of the respondents were female and 60% were
between the ages of 18 and 44.
Procedures and Operationalization
of Constructs
Respondents evaluated a well-known, highly publicized
athlete from a professional football team. Two athletes
with contrasting public images from the same team were
selected to ensure adequate familiarity with the athletes
and variance among key constructs in a structural equa-
tion model. The two athletes were Tony Romo, quarter-
back, and Terrell Owens, wide receiver, of the Dallas
Cowboys as they were the two most publicized Cowboys
players at the time of data collection. Although the two
athletes had very different off-the-feld personas, both
were in the midst of record-setting, Pro Bowl seasons en
route to a top seed for the Cowboys in the NFL playoffs.
Based on pretest results, Tony Romo was viewed as good
natured and clean-cut, while Terrell Owens was viewed
as provocative and extreme. The inclusion of two athletes
with conficting personas from the same team allows for
an investigation of the proposed model while account-
ing for variation in athlete perceptions that ultimately
infuence team-related outcomes. We were better able
to control for familiarity by including two athletes from
the same team. Respondents were randomly assigned to
a survey containing only one of the two athletes. Exclud-
ing the athlete being assessed, all surveys were identical.
The construct measures were modifed from exist-
ing validated scales. All measures were subjected to
confrmatory factor analysis to assess their psychometric
properties and unidimensionality. The fnal scale items
used in the analysis and standardized factor loadings are
listed in Table 1.
Brand Personality
Brand personality attributes were assessed using the
single-item measures implemented by Carlson et al.
(2009) in a team sport context. However, all 15 of the
original items from Aakers (1997) scale were initially
assessed for their relevance to this study. Specifcally,
a pretest was conducted to ensure that each attribute
was appropriate for investigation within this context.
Seventy-six respondents were asked to evaluate the
extent to which each of the original 15 brand personal-
ity attributes was appropriate for describing profes-
sional football players (1 = very inappropriate, 7 = very
appropriate). Consistent with the fndings of Carlson et
al. (2009), the fve brand personality attributes of tough,
charming, wholesome, imaginative, and successful were
deemed appropriate markers of brand personality within
this context while others were not. For example, no
respondents evaluated successful as being inappropriate
(i.e., somewhat to very inappropriate) while 28 out of 76
respondents evaluated intelligent as being inappropriate.
Those attributes that were evaluated as inappropriate
by at least 10% of respondents and evaluated as very
inappropriate by any respondent were deemed inap-
propriate for further consideration in the main study.
This resulted in a total of 7 remaining brand personality
attributes (i.e., daring, spirited, imaginative, wholesome,
successful, charming, and tough). It is worth noting that
this investigation focuses on specifc brand personality
attributes rather than general dimensions. This distinc-
tion is important because attempting to measure brand
personality dimensions (e.g., sincerity) using a single
attribute (e.g., wholesome) would likely result in a loss
of content validity.
We used the items identifed during the pretest in
our focal study. To measure brand personality in the
main study, respondents were asked to rate the extent to
which they agreed or disagreed (1 = strongly disagree; 7
= strongly agree) with the remaining 7 brand personality
items. However, the initial confrmatory factor analysis
including all constructs in the model revealed that the
items daring and spirited signifcantly cross-loaded with
multiple items within the measurement model. These
items were therefore removed from further analysis.
199
Table 1 Confirmatory Factor Analysis Results
Scale Items Factor Loading
Brand Personality
a
Please take a moment to think of how you perceive [Athlete] and indicate to what extent each of the
following words describes him.
Wholesome .922*
Imaginative .922*
Successful .922*
Charming .922*
Tough .922*
Prestige
b
(Composite Reliability = .94, Average Variance Extracted = .83)
[Athlete] has a good reputation with the general public. .895
[Athlete] is a status symbol. .881
[Athlete] is highly respected. .958
Distinctiveness
b
(Composite Reliability = .91, Average Variance Extracted = .77)
I believe [Athlete] is very unique compared with other football players. .882
I feel like he is unlike any other football player. .914
[Athlete] is a rare athlete. .843
Athlete Identifcation (Composite Reliability = .71, Average Variance Extracted = .55)
Please indicate to what degree your self-image overlaps with the image of [Athlete]. Item #1. .831
Item #2. Please indicate to what degree your self-image overlaps with the image of brand. (1 = Not at
All, 7 = Very Much).
.640
Athlete Attachment
b
(Composite Reliability = .90, Average Variance Extracted = .74)
I would experience an emotional loss if I had to stop being a [Athlete] fan. .867
When someone criticizes him, it feels like a personal insult. .841
If a story in the media criticized him, it would affect me negatively. .875
Team Identifcation
b
(Composite Reliability = .97, Average Variance Extracted = .93)
I feel strong ties to other Cowboys fans. .934
I feel a sense of being connected to other Cowboys fans. .986
A strong feeling of camaraderie exists between me and other Cowboys fans. .969
Games Watched
b
How many Cowboys games did you watch on TV last season? .922*
Retail Spending
b
Approximately how much money did you spend on Cowboys merchandise last year? .922*
Note. * This latent variable was measured with a single item. Therefore, factor loadings were fxed at .922.
a
Measured on a 7-point scale (1 = not at all descriptive, 7 = very descriptive)
b
Measured on a 7-point scale (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree)
200 Carlson and Donavan
Athlete prestige was measured on a three-item, 7-point
Likert scale (Mael & Ashforth, 1992). The items were
framed as statements about the public reputation and
status of the athlete. Respondents were asked to indicate
to what extent they agreed or disagreed with each state-
ment. To measure athlete distinctiveness, we used three
items adapted from Donavan et al. (2005b). These items
were also 7-point Likert scales. Respondents were asked
to what extent they agreed or disagreed with statements
about the athlete being unique in comparison with other
football players.
Athlete ID was measured using the Bergami and
Bagozzi (2000) two-item measure of cognitive identifca-
tion as this scale offers a unidimensional measure of the
construct. Although a number of identifcation scales are
available (i.e., Robinson & Trail, 2005; Trail & James,
2001; Wann & Branscombe, 1993), most of these scales
also incorporate more than simply an awareness of ones
cognitive identifcation with an entity. For instance, the
scale proposed by Robinson and Trail (2005) assesses
whether respondents consider themselves more attached
to individual players or the team. Our focus is on the
extent to which consumers identify with an athlete. The
extent to which consumers feel more closely connected
with a player versus the players team is not fundamental
to our investigation. The Trail and James (2001) scale
includes the item I would experience a loss if I had to
stop being a fan of the [team name] team. This item
captures the emotional attachment to the team rather than
the cognitive element. Bergami and Bagozzi (2000) argue
that the cognitive, emotional (i.e., affective commitment),
and behavioral components of identifcation should be
treated separately and their empirical results support this
claim. Consequently, we chose to use the unidimensional
Bergami and Bagozzi (2000) scale to capture cognitive
identifcation as its discriminant validity compared with
other dimensions of the original identifcation construct
have been well substantiated. In addition, this scale is
generalizable to multiple research domains, as it has been
widely applied in marketing, management, and sports
management literatures.
While numerous past studies have investigated many
of these constructs independently, most studies have not
investigated these variables simultaneously. Therefore,
given the possibility of respondents perceiving overlap
among the measures of athlete ID, athlete attachment,
and team ID, measures for each construct were chosen
carefully to ensure discriminant validity. Three items were
adapted from Mael and Ashforth (1992) to measure athlete
attachment. These items correspond with the affective,
rather than cognitive, attachment consumers may feel
toward an athlete. Three items were adapted from Carlson,
Suter, and Brown (2008) to assess an individuals Team
ID, or self-categorization as a fan of the team. These
items, which correspond with a consumers perceived
affliation with a team and its fan base, have demonstrated
discriminant validity from cognitive and affective mea-
sures when investigated in a social identity framework.
Single-item indicators were used to assess the number of
games watched and retail spending (Carlson et al., 2009).
Results
To assess differences in consumer perceptions of the
two athletes included in the study, a one-way MANOVA
compared the mean ratings for all variables in the model
(see Table 2). In general, perceptions of Tony Romo were
signifcantly more positive than perceptions of Terrell
Owens. However, univariate ANOVA tests revealed that
mean differences were nonsignifcant for distinctive-
ness and the team-related variables (i.e., team ID, games
watched, and spending) and no effects were found for these
variables. In addition, the mean differences for imagina-
tive (F = 3.73, p = .06) and successful (F = 3.23, p = .07)
were nonsignifcant and demonstrated small effect sizes.
Overall, the selected athletes successfully produced differ-
ential perceptions of key variables in the proposed model.
The analysis was conducted using AMOS 17
(Arbuckle, 1997). We began with the two-step approach
suggested by Anderson and Gerbing (1988). A confrma-
tory factor analysis (CFA) was conducted on the twelve
scales: tough, wholesome, charming, imaginative, suc-
cessful, prestige, distinctiveness, athlete ID, team ID,
attachment, games watched, and retail spending. The
error terms and paths on each of the single item latent
constructs were fxed appropriately (c.f., Anderson &
Gerbing, 1988; Joreskog & Sorbom, 1993). Specifcally,
fxed path coeffcients are equal to the square root of the
reliability estimate (e.g., alpha) for a measure. Because
single-indicators are being used to measure latent, or
unobservable, constructs, we must account for measure-
ment error (Netemeyer et al., 1990). The error terms and
paths on each of the single item latent variables were fxed
as recommended by Joreskog and Sorbom (1993, p. 196).
When using single item indicators the authors suggest a
reliability of 0.85, which corresponds to a path coeffcient
of .922. The variance of indicator error terms is fxed at a
level equal to: (1reliability) * variance of the indicator.
The CFA revealed acceptable ft (
2
= 212.90 [df =
130, p > .00], TLI = 0.98, CFI = 0.96, and RMSEA =
0.05). The measurement model provided evidence of reli-
ability, convergent validity, and discriminant validity. All
indicators loaded on the appropriate latent factor, which
provided evidence of convergent validity. Composite
reliability, the analog for Cronbachs alpha in structural
equation modeling, ranged from .77 to .92 indicating
acceptable reliability. Discriminant validity was evalu-
ated by computing the average variance extracted (AVE),
which represents that amount of common variance
explained in the construct by the items. The remainder
represents the amount of error variance and unique vari-
ance not represented by the construct. To demonstrate
discriminant validity, the AVE for each construct should
be (1) greater than .50 and (2) greater than the correla-
tion squared between the two scales (Fornell & Larcker,
1981). All AVE values met the criteria suggested by
Fornell and Larcker indicating adequate discriminant
validity between the constructs (See Table 1). Descrip-
tive statistics and correlations are provided in Table 3.
The structural model was estimated based on the
proposed hypotheses (Figure 1). Table 4 presents the
Human Brands in Sport 201
Table 2 Group Differences between Athlete Perceptions
Variable
Means and Std. Deviations
F-value
a
p-value
p
2b
Cohens d Tony Romo (n = 106) Terrell Owens (n = 120)
1. Tough 4.70 (1.63) 4.13 (1.94) 5.73 .02 .03 0.3*
2. Wholesome 4.79 (1.52) 2.25 (1.49) 161.74 .00 .42 1.7***
3. Charming 4.71 (1.54) 2.78 (1.62) 28.17 .00 .11 1.2***
4. Imaginative 4.31 (1.48) 3.89 (1.80) 3.73 .06 .02 0.3*
5. Successful 4.93 (1.52) 4.52 (1.94) 3.23 .07 .01 0.2*
6. Prestige 4.07 (1.67) 1.96 (1.19) 116.58 .00 .34 1.5***
7. Distinctiveness 3.18 (1.59) 3.31 (1.89) .33 .56 .00 -0.1
8. Athlete ID 2.87 (1.46) 1.46 (.84) 76.72 .00 .26 1.2***
9. Team ID 3.33 (1.80) 3.60 (1.96) 1.11 .29 .01 -0.1
10. Athlete Attachment 2.25 (1.40) 1.55 (.97) 18.70 .00 .08 0.6**
11. Games Watched 5.43 (2.24) 5.44 (2.23) .00 .97 .00 0.0
12. Retail Spending 2.03 (1.19) 1.83 (1.04) 1.70 .19 .01 0.2*
Note. Overall MANOVA test for the 12 variables (Pillais Trace = .56, F (12, 213.00) = 22.45, p < .001)
a
Univariate ANOVA tests associated with F(1,224)
b
Partial eta-squared
* Small effect size (ES); ** medium ES; *** large ES (Cohen, 1988)
Table 3 Descriptive Statistics and Correlations From CFA results
Variable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
1. Tough 1.00
2. Wholesome .54 1.00
3. Charming .72 .77 1.00
4. Imaginative .57 .62 .71 1.00
5. Successful .42 .58 .67 .85 1.00
6. Prestige .20 .05 .17 -.01 .05 1.00
7. Distinctiveness .20 .15 .29 .18 .27 .40 1.00
8. Athlete ID .21 -.04 .15 .05 .06 .69 .31 1.00
9. Team ID .27 .11 .19 .19 .16 .15 .35 .22 1.00
10. Athlete Attachment .25 .12 .26 .10 .04 .49 .38 .43 .27 1.00
11. Games Watched .06 -.01 .06 .06 .09 .28 .34 .27 .59 .09 1.00
12. Retail Spending .16 .13 .22 .11 .13 .24 .28 .23 .46 .19 .62 1.00
Mean 4.43 3.60 3.81 4.11 4.74 3.08 3.24 2.21 3.45 1.92 5.44 1.93
Standard Deviation 1.80 1.97 1.85 1.65 1.74 1.80 1.73 1.39 1.88 1.27 2.24 1.12
results of the structural model analysis. The ft indices
for the structural model indicate an acceptable ftting
model:
2
= 348.94 (df = 166, p < .001), TLI = 0.94, CFI
= 0.95, and RMSEA = 0.07. Our model explains 62% of
the variance in athlete ID, 47% of the variance in games
watched, and 27% of the variance in retail spending. The
fnal path model is shown in Figure 2.
We further investigated the appropriateness of the
overall model in this study by comparing the theoretical
model to a nested model in which paths were added
from each brand personality attribute, prestige, and
distinctiveness directly to games watched and retail spend-
ing. The ft indices for the model were as follows: (
2
=
334.10 df = 152; p < .001); CFI = .95; TLI = .93; RMSEA
= .07. Although the ft indices for the nested model are
satisfactory, the nonsignifcant chi-squared difference
test (
2
= 14.8, df = 14) reveals that the theoretical
model is appropriate for the data, yet more parsimonious
to the alternative model. Thus, athlete ID appears to be
an important construct to include when investigating the
infuence of consumer perceptions of athlete human brand
characteristics upon sport consumption behaviors.
202 Carlson and Donavan
Discussion
Theoretical Implications
Utilizing professional athletes as focal human brands,
our study investigated the infuence of the same brand
personality attributes in an athlete context identifed by
Carlson et al. (2009) in a team-based context. Our fnd-
ings underscore and extend the work of Aaker (1997) and
Thomson (2006) by demonstrating that intangible human
brands, as well as more traditional tangible brands, have a
brand personality. In addition, this study extends previous
research on sport-related identifcation (e.g., Branscombe,
1995; Donavan et al., 2006; Fink et al., 2009; Gwinner
& Swanson, 2003; Heere et al., 2011) by exploring the
infuence of brand personality on important team-related
outcomes via athlete ID.
We found the significance of the relationships
between the athletes prestige and distinctiveness with
athlete ID was somewhat consistent with previous fnd-
ings that explored team ID. Specifcally, Carlson et al.,
(2009) found that only distinctiveness had a signifcant
infuence on team ID. However, although the infuence
of distinctiveness is less robust than that of prestige, both
variables had a signifcant infuence on athlete ID in this
study. Thus, consumers should be more likely to identify
with a player who is perceived to be both prestigious
and distinctive. These fndings are consistent with social
identity theory, which suggests people seek to differen-
tiate themselves from others in social contexts and are
thus likely to affliate with entities that enhance their
self-esteem (Tajfel & Turner, 1985). The model explains
47% of the variance in number of games watched and
27% of the variance in retail spending. Thus, we fnd
Table 4 Results of Structural Equations Analyses
Structural Model Statistics Study

2
348.94
df 166
CFI .95
TLI .94
RMSEA .07
Path
Standardized
Path Estimate
Standard
Error t value
Imaginative Prestige H1a -.86 .26 -3.42
a
Successful Prestige H1b .58 .21 2.57
b
Charming Prestige H1c .44 .24 2.17
c
Tough Prestige H1d .30 .16 2.14
c
Wholesome Prestige H1e -.28 .15 -1.96
c
Imaginative Distinctiveness H2a -.75 .25 -2.99
b
Successful Distinctiveness H2b .73 .21 3.21
a
Charming Distinctiveness H2c .50 .23 2.43
c
Tough Distinctiveness H2d .14 .15 1.03
Wholesome Distinctiveness H2e -.30 .15 -2.05
c
Prestige Athlete ID H3 .74 .05 10.48
a
Distinctiveness Athlete ID H4 .16 .05 2.54
c
Athlete ID Athlete Attachment H5a .55 .07 6.92
a
Athlete ID Team ID H5b .25 .11 3.35
a
Athlete ID Games Watched H6a .36 .09 4.13
a
Athlete ID Retail Spending H6b .26 .08 2.74
c
Athlete Attachment Games Watched H7a .27 .09 3.35
b
Athlete Attachment Retail Spending H7b .08 .08 0.93
Team ID Games Watched H8a .56 .04 9.10
a
Team ID Retail Spending H8b .42 .04 6.12
a
Note. n = 226;
a
p < .001;
b
p < .01;
c
p < .05 (two-tail tests)
Human Brands in Sport 203
support for the contention that individual athletes have
an impact on team-related outcomes (i.e., viewership and
retail spending).
Our fndings reveal that specifc brand personal-
ity attributes infuence consumer evaluations of athlete
prestige and distinctiveness. However, counter to our
expectations, both wholesome and imaginative had a
signifcant negative infuence on both prestige and distinc-
tive. As it pertains to imaginativeness, this fnding may be
infuenced by the trend of many high profle professional
football players becoming increasingly creative in their
postplay celebrations. The expectation that high profle
athletes will show off their own creative celebrations
after a big play may contribute to the negative infuence
of imaginativeness on distinctiveness. If fans expect most
football players to engage in imaginative celebratory
acts, then engaging in such behaviors may be perceived
as being similar to other football players rather than
being distinct. In addition, football is a task-oriented
sport and team success is dependent on the ability of
all team members to effectively perform their assigned
tasks. As a result of their creative celebrations, numer-
ous NFL players have received unsportsmanlike conduct
penalties that were detrimental to their teams, in some
cases altering the outcome of the game. Thus, athletes
who demonstrate highly imaginative on-feld antics may
be drawing attention to themselves at the expense of the
team. Thus, individual acts that are highly imaginative or
creative may negatively infuence team performance. As
a result, fans may view this behavior as being undesirable
and detracting from the prestige of the player.
The infuence of wholesome on both prestige and
distinctiveness was significant and negative. Unlike
more traditional brands, human brands have the unique
opportunity to appeal to consumers both because, and in
spite, of very strong negative characteristics. For instance,
many celebrities and athletes are very popular among
consumers because of their negative bad boy or bad
girl images (Burton, Farrelly, & Quester, 2001). The
image of being rebellious is often perceived as being
highly desirable. Thus, although potentially controversial,
an athlete such as Terrell Owens who is perceived to be
a bad boy will likely stand out from his peers, result-
ing in widespread adoration and even a loyal following
of enthusiasts. In effect, ranking low on the wholesome
characteristic may serve to enhance the prestige and
distinctiveness of the celebrity and simultaneously
result in widespread, although not unanimous, appeal.
This effect is particularly evident when the celebrity
is highly successful as well. However, athletes such as
Peyton Manning arguably beneft from ranking very high
on the wholesome characteristic. Therefore, we believe
that potential curvilinear relationships exist between
wholesomeness and both prestige and distinctiveness.
A post hoc curvilinear regression was conducted
to assess the potential quadratic effects of wholesome
on prestige and distinctiveness. The analysis revealed
that wholesome has a significant quadratic effect on
Figure 2 Structural model results with standardized path coeffcients.
204 Carlson and Donavan
distinctiveness (t
(223)
= 2.47, p = .01). The quadratic effect
of wholesome on prestige was not signifcant (t
(223)
=
1.52, p = .13). However, the graphical representation of
the analysis did reveal a similar curvilinear trend to that
found with distinctiveness as the dependent variable. These
results offer support to the contention that the negative
infuence of wholesome on prestige and distinctiveness
could be due to a curvilinear effect. Specifcally, as evalu-
ations of athlete wholesomeness approach either the top
or the bottom end of the scale, perceptions of prestige and
distinctiveness will be enhanced. However, as evaluations
of athlete wholesomeness approach a moderate level, per-
ceptions of prestige and distinctiveness may be diminished.
The fndings also reveal that both athlete ID and team
ID have a signifcant, positive infuence on the number
of games that fans watch as well as the amount of money
spent on team-related retail purchases. Although athlete
attachment had a signifcant infuence on the number of
games watched it did not signifcantly infuence retail
spending. This fnding suggests that strong attachments
to individual players may not translate into retail spending
on team-related merchandise. One possible explanation
for this fnding could be that consumers may become less
committed to a team and its product offerings as attach-
ment to an individual player increases, allowing fans
to shift their allegiances among teams as their favorite
athletes change teams. For example, during his tenure
as a professional basketball player, Shaquille ONeal
developed a loyal fan base that remained loyal to the Shaq
brand as he moved among teams in the NBA, produced
records as a recording artist, and appeared in television
and flm productions.
Managerial Implications
Our fndings suggest that athlete ID is an important vari-
able in predicting team-related consumption behaviors. In
addition to its direct positive infuence on watching games
and retail spending, athlete ID has a positive infuence
on the extent to which consumers both feel an emotional
attachment to the athlete and identify with the team. Thus
frms may beneft by employing tactics that facilitate
athlete identifcation. Further, brand personality of indi-
vidual athletes may be very important for organizations
associated with sport. Consumer evaluations of a single
athlete could have signifcant effects on evaluations of
a team as well as behaviors related to its market offer-
ings. In addition, marketers who want to associate their
products with a sports team should consider the human
brands that comprise the team, as evaluations of the team
are infuenced by evaluations of individual athletes.
This research has potential implications for nonsport
products hoping to beneft from association with sport
as well. For example, athlete endorsements would likely
infuence athlete ID and possibly team ID as well. By
understanding the psychology of what makes consum-
ers identify with a human brand, frms may be able to
enhance their brand experience through appropriate
endorser selection. As an additional consideration, when
an athlete leaves a team, many consumers may become
less interested in the team because part of the entertain-
ment value is lost with the athletes departure. For frms
hoping to beneft from an association with professional
sports, this fnding suggests that in some circumstances
it may be benefcial to align the companys image with
the entire team rather than an individual athlete.
Future Research and Limitations
It is important to consider the following caveat when
interpreting the results of this study. As noted previously,
the Dallas Cowboys were one of the top performing teams
in the NFL at the time of data collection. In addition,
Tony Romo and Terrell Owens were both performing at
very high levels individually. Given that player and team
performance may both be indicative of product quality,
it is possible that our results may have been infuenced
by the success of the team and the athletes. Specifcally,
the relationships between social identity and behaviors
may be enhanced when a team or athlete is performing
well. Consistent with social identity theory, individuals
are more likely to demonstrate their affliation with an
entity when doing so enhances their self-esteem. Thus,
group identities relating to the athlete and the team, as
well as their resulting behaviors, may have been more
salient for respondents in this study because of the suc-
cess of the focal athletes and team.
There are multiple areas related to this study that
may beneft from additional investigation. Future research
should explore additional factors that infuence identif-
cation with human brands. The generalizability of our
fndings to other sports contexts is restricted given that
this study focused on two professional athletes from the
National Football League. Although the athletes included
in this study are perceived to be substantially different
from one another, investigating the model with additional
athletes as well as additional teams from multiple sports
will enhance the generalizability of the fndings. In addi-
tion, the focal athletes in this study were associated with
a team sport. However, focal athletes who participate in
individual sports such as tennis, golf, or snowboarding
may infuence consumers in a unique way. Specifcally,
differences may exist in the proposed relationships when
exploring consumption outcomes that are sport-based
(e.g., PGA events) rather than team-based (e.g., Dallas
Cowboys games).
Pretests were used to identify specifc attributes from
Aakers (1997) brand personality scale that were deemed
appropriate for evaluating professional football players.
Given that most sports have a unique image, it will likely
be necessary in future studies to determine which brand
personality attributes are most relevant for evaluating
athletes associated with each sport. We recommend that
future studies begin with the original 15 items proposed
by Aaker (1997) rather than the fnal fve attributes used in
this study. The notion of brand personality is conceptually
broad enough to apply to all brand and sport contexts.
However, the diversity of brand types is too great to jus-
tify utilizing a single measurement scale that is equally
appropriate in all contexts.
Human Brands in Sport 205
In this research, a perspective of social identity was
adopted in which cognitive (i.e., identifcation) and emo-
tional (i.e., attachment) aspects of identity are considered
to be unique, albeit related, constructs (c.f., Bergami &
Bagozzi, 2000; Bhattacharya & Sen, 2003; Carlson et
al., 2009). However, an alternative perspective exists in
which social identity is considered to be multidimensional
both in conceptualization and operationalization (c.f.,
Ashmore, Deaux, & McLaughlin-Volpe, 2004; Heere
& James, 2007; Heere et al., 2011). Specifcally, self-
categorization, evaluation, importance, attachment and
sense of interdependence, social embededness, behavioral
involvement, and content and meaning are considered
as dimensions that simultaneously drive social identity.
Although athlete attachment had a nonsignifcant direct
effect on spending in this study, the combined effects of
attachment with the other proposed dimensions of social
identity may reveal stronger relationships between iden-
tity and behaviors. Thus, future studies should compare
the current model to one in which a multidimensional
view of social identity is adopted.
The fndings of this study suggest that tough as a
brand personality trait does not signifcantly infuence
distinctiveness. This fnding is likely due to the fact
that most NFL players are perceived to be tough and,
therefore, tough is not typically perceived as a brand
personality trait that distinguishes one athlete from
another. However, this relationship may prove to be sig-
nifcant when comparing the brand personalities of athlete
celebrities to those of nonathlete celebrities as potential
endorsers or comparing athletes of different sports. Ath-
letes are often chosen as celebrity endorsers due to their
ability to stand out from others (i.e., distinctiveness).
Therefore, the relationships between brand personality
traits and distinctiveness should be examined in future
studies. An additional limitation of this study is that
the outcome variables of retail spending and number of
games watched were self-reported. Although self-report
data are commonly used, actual purchase and sales data
would provide greater accuracy in future investigations.
References
Aaker, J. (1997). Dimensions of brand personality. JMR, Journal
of Marketing Research, 34, 347356. doi:10.2307/3151897
Aaker, J., Fournier, S., & Brasel, S.A. (2004). When good
brands do bad. The Journal of Consumer Research, 31,
116. doi:10.1086/383419
Allport, G.W. (1961). Pattern and Growth in Personality. New
York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
Anderson, J.C., & Gerbing, D.W. (1988). Structural equation
modeling in practice: A review and recommended two-
step approach. Psychological Bulletin, 103(3), 411423.
doi:10.1037/0033-2909.103.3.411
Arbuckle, J.L. (1997). AMOS 7.0. Chicago: Smallwaters
Corporation.
Ashforth, B.E., & Mael, F. (1989). Social identity theory and
the organization. Academy of Management Review, 14(1),
2039.
Ashmore, R.D., Deaux, K., & McLaughlin-Volpe, T. (2004). An
organizing framework for collective identity: Articulation
and signifcance of multidimensionality. Psychological
Bulletin, 130(1), 80114. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.130.1.80
Azoulay, A., & Kapferer, J.N. (2003). Do brand personality
scales really measure brand personality? Brand Manage-
ment, 11(2), 143155. doi:10.1057/palgrave.bm.2540162
Barrick, M.R., & Mount, M.K. (1991). The big fve personality
dimensions and job performance: A meta-analysis. Person-
nel Psychology, 44, 126. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.1991.
tb00688.x
Beggan, J.K. (1992). On the social nature of nonsocial percep-
tion: The mere ownership effect. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, 62(2), 229237. doi:10.1037/0022-
3514.62.2.229
Belk, R.W. (1988). Possessions and the extended self.
The Journal of Consumer Research, 15(2), 139168.
doi:10.1086/209154
Bergami, M., & Bagozzi, R.P. (2000). Self-categorization,
affective commitment and group self-esteem as dis-
tinct aspects of social identity in the organization. The
British Journal of Social Psychology, 39, 555577.
doi:10.1348/014466600164633
Bhattacharya, C.B., Rao, H., & Glynn, M.A. (1995). Under-
standing the bond of identifcation: An investigation of
its correlates among art museum members. Journal of
Marketing, 59, 4657. doi:10.2307/1252327
Bhattacharya, C.B., & Sen, S. (2003). Consumer-company
identifcation: A framework for understanding consumers
relationships with companies. Journal of Marketing, 67,
7688. doi:10.1509/jmkg.67.2.76.18609
Braunstein, J.R., & Ross, S.D. (2010). Brand personality in
sport: Dimension analysis and general scale development.
Sport Marketing Quarterly, 19, 816.
Brown, T.J., Mowen, J.C., Donavan, D.T., & Licata, J.W. (2002).
The customer orientation of service workers: Personality
trait determinants and infuences on self and supervisor
performance ratings. JMR, Journal of Marketing Research,
39(1), 110119. doi:10.1509/jmkr.39.1.110.18928
Burton, R., Farrelly, F.J., & Quester, P.G. (2001). Exploring the
curious demand for athletes with controversial images:
A review of anti-hero product endorsement advertising.
International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship,
2(4), 315330.
Caprara, G.V., Barbaranelli, C., & Guido, G. (2001). Brand
personality: How to make the metaphor ft? Journal of
Economic Psychology, 22(3), 377395. doi:10.1016/
S0167-4870(01)00039-3
Carlson, B.D., Donavan, D.T., & Cumiskey, K.J. (2009).
Consumer-brand relationships in sport: Brand per-
sonality and identification. International Journal of
Retail and Distribution Management, 37(4), 370384.
doi:10.1108/09590550910948592
Carlson, B.D., Suter, T.A., & Brown, T.J. (2008). Social versus
psychological brand community: The role of psychological
sense of brand community. Journal of Business Research,
61(4), 284291. doi:10.1016/j.jbusres.2007.06.022
Chaplin, W.F., John, O.P., & Goldberg, L.R. (1988). Concep-
tions of states and traits: Dimensional attributes with ideals
and protytypes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychol-
ogy, 54(4), 541557. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.54.4.541
Cialdini, R.B., Borden, R.J., Thorne, A., Walker, M.R., Free-
man, S., & Sloan, L.R. (1976). Basking in refected glory:
Three (football) feld studies. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 34(3), 366375. doi:10.1037/0022-
3514.34.3.366
Costa, P.T., McCrae, R.R., & Arenberg, D. (1980). Enduring
dispositions in adult males. Journal of Personality and
206 Carlson and Donavan
Social Psychology, 38, 793800. doi:10.1037/0022-
3514.38.5.793
Davies, G., Chun, R., da Silva, R.V., & Roper, S. (2004). A
corporate character scale to assess employee and customer
views of organisation reputation. Corporate Reputation
Review, 7, 125146. doi:10.1057/palgrave.crr.1540216
Donavan, D.T., Carlson, B., & Zimmerman, M. (2005a). Per-
sonality infuences on spectator need for affliation and
identifcation. Sport Marketing Quarterly, 14(1), 3142.
Donavan, D.T., Janda, S., & Maxham, J.G. (2005b). The impact
of brand connection and intimacy on identifcation and
spending. Proceedings of the American Marketing Associ-
ation Summer Educators Conference, San Francisco, CA.
Donavan, D.T., Janda, S., & Suh, J. (2006). Environmental
influences in corporate brand identification and out-
comes. Journal of Brand Management, 14(1), 125136.
doi:10.1057/palgrave.bm.2550057
Fornell, C., & Larcker, D.F. (1981). Evaluating structural equa-
tion models with unobservable variables and measurement
error. JMR, Journal of Marketing Research, 28, 3950.
doi:10.2307/3151312
Fournier, S. (1998). Consumer and their brands: Developing
relationship theory in consumer research. The Journal of
Consumer Research, 24(4), 343373. doi:10.1086/209515
Fridhandler, B.M. (1986). Conceptual note on state, trait, and
the state-trait distinction. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 50(1), 169174. doi:10.1037/0022-
3514.50.1.169
Funk, D.C., & James, J. (2001). The psychological continuum
model: A conceptual framework for understanding an
individuals psychological connection to sport. Sport
Management Review, 4(2), 119150. doi:10.1016/S1441-
3523(01)70072-1
Gladden, J.M., & Funk, D.C. (2002). Developing an under-
standing of brand associations in team sport: Empirical
evidence from consumers of professional sport. Journal
of Sport Management, 16(1), 5481.
Goldberg, L.R. (1992). The development of markers for the
Big-Five factor structure. Psychological Assessment, 4(1),
2642. doi:10.1037/1040-3590.4.1.26
Grubb, E.L., & Grathwol, H.L. (1967). Consumer self-concept,
symbolism and market behavior: A theoretical approach.
Journal of Marketing, 31, 2227. doi:10.2307/1249461
Gwinner, K., & Swanson, S.R. (2003). A model of fan
identification: Antecedents and sponsorship out-
comes. Journal of Services Marketing, 17(3), 275294.
doi:10.1108/08876040310474828
Gwinner, K., & Bennett, G. (2008). The impact of brand cohe-
siveness and sport identifcation on brand ft in a sponsorship
context. Journal of Sport Management, 22(4), 410426.
Heere, B. (2010). A new approach to measure perceived brand
personality associations among consumers. Sport Market-
ing Quarterly, 19(1), 1724.
Heere, B., & James, J.D. (2007). Stepping outside the lines:
Developing a multi-dimensional team identity scale based
on Social Identity Theory. Sport Management Review,
10(1), 6592. doi:10.1016/S1441-3523(07)70004-9
Heere, B., James, J.D., Yoshida, M., & Scremin, G. (2011).
The effect of associated group identities on team identity.
Journal of Sport Management, 25, 144.
Hogg, M.A., Terry, D.J., & White, K.M. (1995). A tale of two
theories: A critical comparison of identity theory and social
identity theory. Social Psychology Quarterly, 58, 255269.
doi:10.2307/2787127
Holt, D.B. (1995). How consumers consume: A typology of con-
sumption practices. The Journal of Consumer Research,
22, 116. doi:10.1086/209431
Joreskog, K., & Sorbom, D. (1993). LISREL 8: Structural Equa-
tion Modeling with the SIMPLIS Command Language.
Chicago, IL: Scientifc Software International.
Kirmani, A., Sood, S., & Bridges, S. (1999). The ownership
effect in consumer responses to brand line stretches. Jour-
nal of Marketing, 63(1), 88101. doi:10.2307/1252003
Kwon, H.H., & Armstrong, K.L. (2002). Factors infuencing
impulse buying of sport team licensed merchandise. Sport
Marketing Quarterly, 11(3), 151163.
Kwon, H.H., Trail, G., & James, J.D. (2007). The mediating
role of perceived value: Team identifcation and purchase
intention of team-licensed apparel. Journal of Sport Man-
agement, 21(4), 540554.
Laroche, M., Kim, C., & Zhou, L. (1996). Brand familiarity
and confdence as determinants of purchase intention:
An empirical test in a multiple brand context. Journal
of Business Research, 37, 115120. doi:10.1016/0148-
2963(96)00056-2
Lee, H.S., & Cho, C.H. (2009). The matching effect of brand
and sporting event personality: Sponsorship implications.
Journal of Sport Management, 23(1), 4164.
Lichtenstein, D.R., Drumwright, M.E., & Braig, B.M.
(2004). The effect of corporate social responsibility on
consumer donations to corporate-supported nonprof-
its. Journal of Marketing, 68(4), 1632. doi:10.1509/
jmkg.68.4.16.42726
Madrigal, R., & Chen, J. (2008). Moderating and mediating
effects of team identifcation in regard to causal attribu-
tions and summary judgments following a game outcome.
Journal of Sport Management, 22(6), 717733.
Mael, F.A., & Ashforth, B.E. (1992). Alumni and their alma
mater: A partial test of the reformulated model of organiza-
tional identifcation. Journal of Organizational Behavior,
13, 103123. doi:10.1002/job.4030130202
McAlexander, J.H., Schouten, J.W., & Koenig, H.F. (2002).
Building brand community. Journal of Marketing, 66(1),
3854. doi:10.1509/jmkg.66.1.38.18451
Netemeyer, R.G., Johnston, M.W., & Burton, S. (1990). Analy-
sis of role confict and role ambiguity in a structural equa-
tions framework. The Journal of Applied Psychology, 75,
148157. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.75.2.148
Robinson, M.J., & Trail, G.T. (2005). Relationships among
spectator gender, motives, points of attachment and sport
preference. Journal of Sport Management, 9, 5880.
Tajfel, H., & Turner, J.C. (1985). The social identity theory of
intergroup behavior. In S. Worchel & W.G. Austin (Eds.),
Psychology of Intergroup Relations (pp. 724). Chicago,
IL: Nelson-Hall.
Trail, G.T., & James, J.D. (2001). The motivation scale for sport
consumption: Assessment of the scales psychometric
properties. Journal of Sport Behavior, 24(1), 108127.
Thomson, M. (2006). Human brands: Investigating antecedents
to consumers strong attachments to celebrities. Journal
of Marketing, 70, 104119. doi:10.1509/jmkg.70.3.104
Wann, D.L., & Branscombe, N.R. (1993). Sports fans: Measur-
ing degree of identifcation with their team. International
Journal of Sport Psychology, 24(1), 117.
Wann, D.L., & Branscombe, N.R. (1995). Infuence of iden-
tifcation with a sports team on objective knowledge and
subjective beliefs. International Journal of Sport Psychol-
ogy, 26(4), 551567.