A celebrity is a well-known person who commands public recognition and fascination. Although the celebrity may have existed for hundreds of years, the emergence of influencers gives rise to a new breed of celebrities on social media, who are ordinary-people-turned-experts in an area of interest (e.g., lifestyle). Together, the traditional celebrity and influencer illustrate the industry- and socially-constructed star-making processes. On the one hand, traditional celebrities’ path to fame is supported by networked media and the entertainment system. On the other hand, influencers create contents that netizens can pick and choose to like and follow, making their path to fame a socially-constructed process. Nevertheless, the star-making industries in the 21st century are embracing big data, AI, and machine-learning algorithms to “design” and “manufacture” celebrities. In so doing, they usher in a “new” industry-constructed process that has “created” K-pop stars and virtual influencers. Given the prevailing consumption culture, both the celebrity and influencer often engage in brand endorsement practices. The major strands of celebrity endorsement (CE) research highlight the celebrity, consumer, and endorsed brand. In addition to factors that can be traced directly to the celebrity (e.g., trustworthiness, attractiveness, images), CE research discusses how the celebrity’s match with a product or brand and how the celebrity’s relationship with consumers (both fans and the general public) offers important contingency factors that impact the effects of CE. Meanwhile, influencer-marketers are passionate about their area of expertise. They share their personal brand usage experiences with and provide contextualized recommendations to consumers. Their relationship with consumers is characterized by trust, intimacy, and dialogue. Without the traditional celebrity’s glamour, they use “authentic” and “similar” strategies in their self-branding efforts. These practices allow them to address the consumer’s instrumental and relational needs when making purchase decisions, an act that a traditional celebrity is less effective in making happen. Armed with big data and the like, the current star-making industries has the power and control at an unprecedented scale. The K-pop stars and virtual influencers thus created and managed have been successful. However, their path to fame raises concerns over institutional governance, regulatory control, and ethics of the celebrity and endorsement businesses as well as the means of cultural production. These issues together render celebrity studies and endorsement research a discipline both interesting and challenging to pursue.
Celebrity politicians are having a profound impact on the practice of politics within the United States and United Kingdom in the 21st century. With the adoption of social media platforms, celebrity and image candidates have deployed new strategies for attracting constituents. Taken together, the proliferation of celebrity politics and the ubiquity of digital platforms have fostered a unique atmosphere in the contemporary political moment, wherein “outsider” candidates may leverage their fame to launch themselves into the public spotlight. In turn, through their celebrity brands and digital presence both populists such as the U.S. President Donald Trump and left-wing leaders including U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have established an “authenticity” in which they “occupy” a public space to define their candidacies. Consequently, as celebrities and image candidates promote political agendas among target audiences/citizens, it is necessary to reflect upon their significance in election campaigns, policy agendas, and activism.