An autopsy of consumer attitudes toward promotional communication in a posthumous context

It is now common for consumers to mourn and commemorate deceased celebrities on social networking sites (SNS). In addition to grieving messages, however, celebrities’ posthumous SNS increasingly include promotional content; late celebrities, from Marilyn Monroe to David Bowie, regularly tweet or post promotional messages from the afterlife. The aim of this paper is to explore consumer attitudes toward marketing communication in a posthumous environment. Prior research has consistently documented consumers’ rejection of marketing activities in other sacred environments. By investigating the interaction effect of celebrity attachment (fans vs. non-fans) and death salience on celebrities’ posthumous SNS, this research is the first to identify a positive response to marketing communication in a sacred environment. Three experimental studies demonstrate that although both fans and non-fans react negatively to promotional messages when death is salient, over time, celebrity attachment diminishes death salience and fosters a positive response of fans toward promotional messages on celebrities’ posthumous SNS. Celebrity attachment may favor artificial immortality and, as such, distance the late celebrity from death-related thoughts.



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