Celebrity Effect

Celebrity Effect: the impact the celebrity endorsements have on consumer behavior. Celebrity endorsers are defined as “any individual who enjoys public recognition and who uses this recognition on behalf of a consumer good by appearing with it in an advertisement.” The attractiveness, likeability, reputation, and believability of the celebrities are associated with the products or services being endorsed. Common outside of the health industry, the introduction of direct-to-consumer advertising to sell pharmaceuticals and other health-related products and services has extended the use of celebrities.

Angelina Jolie’s op-ed in The New York Times was big news. She shared her family history of cancer, her own genetic mutation, and her choice to have prophylactic surgery – agonizing decisions faced by other high risk women.

Breast Cancer Consortium members and contributors were vital to the public discussion about the context of a personal decision like Jolie’s as well as the politics of patenting human genes. The  U.S. Supreme Court decided in June that it was unlawful to patent natural human genes. Unfortunately, awareness of the Angelina Jolie story was not associated with improved understanding of genetic risk.


amy-robach-300Similarly, after Good Morning America‘s Amy Robach announced that her on-air mammogram got her a breast cancer diagnosis, the correspondent’s “I got lucky by catching it early” so “every woman should get a mammogram” message spread like wildfire. Between the emotional story and the ongoing mammogram wars, plain truths about breast cancer (e.g. biology and evidence) keep getting lost.

Read more about the Robach celebrity story, the mythology behind screening mammograms, and why there are concerns about the role of routine population screening in breast cancer.

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