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This research demonstrates how consumer attachment to celebrity brands is driven by perceived narratives about the celebrity’s persona, which triggers communal (i.e., altruistic) relationship norms. The research investigates the differential role of narratives about celebrities’ personal vs. professional lives in creating attachment, and identifies and tests moderating effects of narrative characteristics including perceived source of fame, valence and authenticity.

Design/methodology/approach – Three online experiments tested the proposed direct, mediating, and moderating relationships. Data was analyzed using mediation analysis and multiple ANOVAs.

Findings – Results suggest relationship norms that are more altruistic in nature fully mediate the relationship between narrative type and brand attachment. Additionally, personal narratives produce stronger attachment than professional narratives; the celebrity’s source of fame moderates narrative type and attachment; and on-brand narratives elicit higher attachment than off-brand narratives, even when these narratives are negative.

Practical implications – We offer recommendations for how marketers can shape celebrity brand narratives to build stronger consumer attachment. Notably, personal (vs. professional) narratives are critical in building attachment, especially for celebrity brands that are perceived to have achieved their fame. Both positive and negative personal narratives can strengthen attachment for achieved celebrity brands, but only if they are on-brand with consumer expectations.

Originality/value – This research is an introductory examination of the fundamental theoretical process by which celebrity brand relationships develop from brand persona narratives, and how characteristics of those narratives influence consumer-brand attachment.


This is the Author Accepted Manuscript. The published version of record is available from the publisher at

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