Research question: According to past research, the effectiveness of athlete endorsements of advertised products is low on average and strongly depends on the context. This article extends the source attractiveness model to examine two research questions: (1) How do multiple unexplored types of an athlete endorser’s attractiveness affect customer equity drivers? (2) How do these effects vary by the fit of an athlete endorser with the endorsed product and with the consumer’s gender and sports experience? Research methods: This research uses hierarchical linear modeling of 1319 consumer evaluations of athlete-endorsed ads in Japan. Results and finding: Among multiple types of an athlete’s attractiveness, an athlete’s success appeal, personality appeal, and athlete-product similarity, but not sex appeal, positively affect customer equity drivers. Due to gender roles, success appeal and personality appeal have stronger effects and athlete-product similarity has weaker effects for male athletes. Contrary to conventional wisdom, sex appeal is not more influential for female athletes. Reflecting sexual preferences in opposite-gender evaluations, a female athlete’s sex appeal has a stronger positive influence on male consumers, whereas a male athlete’s success appeal has a stronger positive influence on female consumers. A consumer’s sports experience enhances the influence of an athlete’s success appeal. Implications: This research identifies a set of contextual moderators (athlete-product fit; athlete-consumer fit in gender and sports experience) of the effectiveness of different attractiveness types in athlete endorsements of advertised products. It provides guidelines on how to enhance the effectiveness of athlete endorsements by using different types of athlete attractiveness in different contexts.
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