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This work was aimed to discover Public Perception of the use of celebrities in Billboard Advertising in Southern Nigeria. In pursuit of the objectives of the study, four research questions were formulated as a guide to this study. However, descriptive survey method was used for the study. Both questionnaire and interview were used to collect primary data from respondents. The survey was specifically carried in various areas of our country such as South East State, South South States And South West states with their respective populations.



1.1 Background of the Study
Recent trends in advertising have revealed that marketers and advertising agencies prefer the use of celebrities in the design of advert copy for Billboard advertisements (Mukherjee, 2009). This situation was informed by the fact that companies want to associate their products with a particular celebrity or group of celebrities, with the argument that the likeness associated with a celebrity can be transferred to the product or service (Mukherjee, 2009). Pingle (2004) has argued that it is hardly surprising that up to 20 percent of all advertising employs celebrities and that all evidence reinforces the fact that these campaigns are very effective in promoting the corporate, product and service brands with which they are aligned”. Thus, studies have shown that such initiatives induce high profitability for companies and their brands (Kumar, 2012; Mukherjee, 2009; Pingle, 2004). No doubt, this underscores the place of celebrity advertising in marketing of products and services.

Celebrities are people who enjoy public recognition by a large share of a certain group of people. Whereas attributes like attractiveness, extraordinary lifestyle or special skills are just examples and specific common characteristics that are observed and celebrities generally differ from the social norm and enjoy a high degree of public awareness. According to Friedman and Friedman,(1979 cited in Mukherjee, 2009, p.6) the term Celebrity refers “to an individual who is known to the public (actor, sports figure, entertainer, etc.) for his or her achievements in areas other than that of the product class endorsed”.

Advertising is a form of communication used to promote products and services of a company primarily to generate sales and secondly to create a brand identity, introduce new products and services, communicating a change in the existing product line. It also helps in communicating social messages to the masses (Kumar, 2012). Advertising is one of the major tools companies use to direct persuasive communications to target buyers and publics. The spenders include not only business firms but museums, professionals and social organizations that advertised their causes to various target public. Today, advertising is a multi-billion industry, employing hundreds of thousands of people and affecting billions of people’s lives worldwide. Yet, seeing as advertising clutter has increased tremendously and is more intense than ever, it is vital that companies differentiate themselves from competitors by creating even more powerful, entertaining and innovative advertising messages, as well as sponsoring different events (Narty, 2010).

In simple terms, advertising is a promotional tool for motivating and persuading consumers to buy consumer goods on sale by an agency or a business establishment. As consumer goods invade the market, so are various advertising strategies evolved to create public awareness of the latest goods in the market. In some senses, it may be said that advertising is a means of corporate image making, for advertising, while a visual point, and electronic means of sale promotion of consumer goods, is at the same time, a means of advancing the corporate progress of establishment outfits. Advertisement, according to APCON, is “a communication in the media paid for by an identifiable sponsor and directed to a target audience with the aim of imparting information about a product, service, idea or cause” (Ukwueze, 2008: 272). Kotler and Armstrong (2003) define advertising as any paid form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods or service through mass media such as newspapers, magazine, television or radio by an identified sponsor. Advertising is the best-known and most widely discussed form of promotion. Marketers use advertising for its cost-effectiveness with large audience and it also creates brand images and symbolic appeal for a company or brand. It has been established that customers are more likely to consider buying and using certain brand of what they can remember, the brand name and something about its attributes or benefits (Nartey, 2010). Kumar, (2012, p.44) defined Advertising as a form of communication used to promote products and services of a company primarily to generate sales and secondly to create a brand identity, introduce new products and services, communicating a change in the existing product line. It also helps in communicating social messages to the masses. However, other scholars have argued against advertising noting: “the problem with advertising isn’t that it creates artificial longings and needs, but that it exploits our very real and human desires”. Advertising promises women the one thing they truly want: that it will help them look the way they “should.” The concern is, this is a false promise because the “ideal” is both unrealistic and unhealthy (Kealbourn, 2000.......

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