What is it about?

Corporate brands increasingly use influential, high reach human brands (e.g. influencers, celebrities), who have strong parasocial relationships with their followers and audiences, to promote their offerings. However, despite emerging understanding of the benefits arising from human brand-based campaigns, knowledge about their potentially negative effects on the corporate brand remains limited. Addressing this gap, this paper deepens insight into the potential risk human brands pose to corporate brands.

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Why is it important?

Though consumers' favorable human brand associations can be used to improve corporate brand outcomes, they rely on consumers' relationship with the endorsing human brand. Given the dependency of these brands, human brand-based marketing bears the risk that the human brand (vs the firm) “owns” the consumer's corporate brand relationship, which the authors coin relationship hijacking. This phenomenon can severely impair consumers' engagement and relationship with the corporate brand.


This paper sheds light on the role of human brands in strategic brand management. Though prior research has highlighted the positive outcomes accruing to the use of human brands, we identify its potential dark sides.

Dr Maik Hammerschmidt
Georg-August-Universitat Gottingen

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The invisible leash: when human brands hijack corporate brands' consumer relationships, Journal of Service Management, March 2022, Emerald, DOI: 10.1108/josm-06-2021-0211.
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