Volume 11 (2022-23)

Each volume of Journal of Brand Strategy consists of four 100-page issues, published in print and online.

Volume 11 Number 4

  • Editorial
    Simon Beckett, Publisher
  • The evolution of branding in Web3: Towards headless brands?
    Nathalie Brähler, Chief Marketing Officer, EleaTek

    Headless brands challenge the idea that a brand is centralised and our assumptions about what a brand is and how it works. Headless brands refer to community-driven brand dynamics, without a centralised managerial body. This paper shows the rise of headless brands, how the idea of branding evolved, as well as the challenges they face. To do this, it illustrates the wider context of evolving brandconsumer relationships and explores how fandom, communities, cryptocurrencies and decentralisation are transforming the very nature of what a brand can be. It concludes by discussing how brands can take advantage of these trends to remain future fit.
    Keywords: headless brand; blockchain; cryptocurrency; brand engagement; Web3

  • Implementing brand purpose as intrinsic to the brand
    Bobby J. Calder, Kellstadt Emeritus Professor of Marketing, Northwestern University, Mark L. Frigo, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, DePaul University and Peter C. Yesawich, Vice Chairman, Emeritus, MMGY Global

    Adding brand purpose to a brand offers the promise of creating real societal value and increasing the financial value of the brand at the same time. This paper discusses how, in order to fully realise this promise, brand purpose should be implemented in a way that is intrinsic to the brand. Intrinsic implementation requires aligning the brand purpose with the core positioning concept of the brand. Essential elements of the purpose must fit with the three critical components of any brand positioning. With an intrinsic implementation, consumers will perceive how the brand positioning extends to supporting what the brand does for others.
    Keywords: branding; purpose; brand positioning; stakeholder value; shareholder value

  • Looking for ‘Uncle Johnnie’: The extraordinary success of Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky in India
    Jay I. Sinha, Associate Professor, Fox School of Business, Temple University and Sunil H. Contractor, Visiting Assistant Professor Marketing, A B Freeman School of Business, Tulane University

    This case study examines the factors underlying the success of Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky in India. India provides a quixotic case in that it is the world’s largest whisky market, despite having a long tradition of abstinence and social stigma towards alcohol-drinking. The paper traces the history of Johnnie Walker and how it metamorphosed from a tradition-bound Scottish company into a global brand with its footprint in more than 180 countries. India has emerged as a very profitable market for Diageo, the parent company of Johnnie Walker. Detailed here are the distinctive characteristics of the Indian alcohol market as well as the novel tactics Diageo has implemented towards Johnnie Walker’s goal of capturing 56 per cent of the Scotch market in the country. The paper ends with managerial implications that are relevant for marketing professionals and brand practitioners even in disparate industries looking to penetrate and develop overseas markets.
    Keywords: Johnnie Walker; Scotch whisky; Diageo; India; Indian alcohol market; brand strategy

  • Being a brand ally to Hispanic (Latine, Latinx, Latin@) consumers
    Marina Filippelli, CEO, Orci

    This paper outlines reasons why brands should focus on becoming better allies to Latine consumers. It argues that whatever term is used to describe this growing demographic, its importance from both a cultural and purchasing power standpoint cannot be dismissed any longer. One in five Americans is Latine, and by 2023 the buying power of the US Latine population is expected to exceed USD$1.9 trillion. Now is the time for marketers to find ways to build real connections with Hispanic consumers. Towards this end, best practices are proposed to demonstrate allyship, highlighting non-traditional areas where brands can lend support, such as around generational wealth and mental health. Brief case studies of successful allyship are also provided.
    Keywords: brands; allyship; Hispanic; multicultural marketing; multisegment marketing; Latine

  • An exploration of comfort brands and the theory of brand comfort
    K. Damon Aiken, Professor of Marketing and Matthew L. Meuter, Professor of Marketing, CSU Chico and Ajay Sukhdial, Associate Professor of Marketing, Oklahoma State University

    This paper advances a new theory of brand comfort that arises from physical comfort, combined with cognitive components (driven by rational trust judgements of quality and reliability) and emotional components (driven by perceptions of affective trust, authenticity, nostalgia and brand love). Two exploratory studies reveal that consumers frequently crave, seek out and attain comfort through branded comfort foods as well as non-food comfort brands. Further, the studies each uncover that attaining comfort through brand consumption yields feelings of emotional support, safety, nostalgia and social connectedness. Findings suggest that consuming comfort brands is an extremely widespread practice, especially in the current era of fear, isolation and social distancing.
    Keywords: brand comfort; comfort foods; comfort brands; nostalgia; social communion; brand relationships

  • Navigating the world of retail media
    Christian Gees, Director, Sales EMEA, ChannelAdvisor

    Since its inception in e-commerce, the growth of retail media advertising — a concept originating in point-of-sales advertising in brick-and-mortar commerce — has been explosive. The rise of retail media presents a multilayered challenge for brands as they determine how to navigate what sites might present optimal combinations of visibility, ready-to-buy consumers, brand awareness boost and other related factors. This paper will briefly describe the essential components of successful implementation of retail media and discuss the concepts behind each. Research indicates that driving revenue through retail media advertising requires a strong focus on a full-funnel strategy that addresses all components of a consumer’s buying journey and incorporating that strategy into data-informed decisions that invest in specific areas pertinent to those most likely to buy a brand or product. This paper presents some results of research conducted by ChannelAdvisor to identify where consumers have been beginning their buying journeys and where they are conducting research about the products in which they are interested. Further discussion includes techniques to identify and convert new audiences, increase consumer engagement and foster loyalty through effective retail media and related digital marketing strategies.
    Keywords: retail media; advertising; consumer behaviour; full-funnel sales; conversion

  • Brand experience design for higher education: A review and future directions
    Christopher Huebner, Director of Activation, SimpsonScarborough

    As institutions of higher education have faced increased competition for college-bound students, felt the effects of both category and market shifts and the impact of COVID-19, the need for developing sustainable brand strategies is apparent (Flannery, T. M., (2021), ‘How to Market a University: Building Value in a Competitive Environment’, John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD). Yet it is unclear how institutions should manage this development. While brand experience design has gained some popularity among practitioners, there has yet to be a major push from practitioners to formalise the practice (McFadden, M., (2022), ‘How silos hinder brand experience in higher ed’, Simpson Scarborough, available at: https://insights.simpsonscarborough.com/how-silos-hinder-brand-experienc...). This paper proposes brand experience design as a sustained competitive advantage for institutions and should be explored for the benefit of academics and practitioners. Through a complete examination of the extant literature on higher education brand management, this paper will identify gaps in the current research and identify four important areas for future research.
    Keywords: higher education marketing; brand strategy; branding; brand higher education brand strategy

  • P.A.R.E.: The four pillars for successful whitepaper lead generation campaigns
    Jason Hunt, Co-Founder and Dave Kerr, Merged Media

    The authors’ team specialises in creating lead generation campaigns for clients across various industries. But after creating many white paper lead generation campaigns, they discovered that some were wildly successful in terms of low cost per lead (CPL), while others were not. In attempting to answer the question ‘why are these white papers successful?’, they compared the titles of their successful and unsuccessful white paper topics and found that the titles of all the successful white papers had four things in common: people, applicability, relevancy and emotion. Thus, the P.A.R.E. method was born. This paper explains lead generation, white papers and the P.A.R.E. method to help marketers create successful white paper lead generation campaigns. Also provided are a few examples of where the P.A.R.E. method was applied to demonstrate its effectiveness in creating an attractive lead generation campaign that captures many leads at a low cost.
    Keywords: lead magnets; lead generation; social media advertising; Facebook ads; e-mail marketing

Volume 11 Number 3

  • Editorial
    Simon Beckett, Publisher
  • Voice: The future of customer experience
    Gwen Morrison, Partner, Candezent Advisory and Consultant, Retail Cities, and Susan Westwater, Strategy Director, Vixen Labs and Author

    Voice technology and personal voice assistants are being adopted by consumers across the globe and becoming part of their everyday lives. As voice assistants continue to proliferate in homes, cars and mobile phones, consumers are increasingly using voice to seek information such as news and weather, find locations and command devices to make calls and texts. With ongoing development of new voice platforms and applications, businesses must plan how to integrate voice into interactions with both employees and consumers. This paper focuses on consumer adoption, how brands might improve the customer journey with voice, and new ways of interacting with consumers as they seek information, experience brands and, ultimately, buy products and services.
    Keywords: Voice technology, conversational AI, synthetic voice, IoT, brand experience, customer engagement, geolocation, shopping efficiency, retail experience

  • No brand can easily claim to be ‘luxury’: A case study of Hugo Boss’ brand positioning (2006–2020)
    Marc Paternot, Senior Lecturer in Business Administration, International Business School, University of Applied Sciences Hochschule Fresenius

    Much confusion still prevails over the distinction between the terms luxury, premium and fashion. Both academics and professionals understand them very differently. This paper delves into the relationship between positioning and business model using the framework proposed by Kapferer [Kapferer, J. N., (2016), ‘The Challenges of Luxury Branding. The Routledge Companion to Contemporary Brand Management’, Routledge, London, p. 485], which highlights how different the business models from luxury, premium and fashion are. Another trading-up brand strategies framework is presented, and a new trading-up strategy model is then proposed. To illustrate these theoretical frameworks and related strategies, the German clothing icon Hugo Boss has been chosen as a case study for its self-proclaimed positioning’s shift, over fifteen years (2006–2020), from premium to luxury and back to premium. In terms of methodology, a longitudinal study has been favoured to observe Hugo Boss’ changes of positioning over time. This paper relies on secondary data, drawn from Hugo Boss’ annual reports of the aforementioned time period, its investors’ presentations, bank analyst’s reports and business newspapers’ articles. Along three self-elaborated drivers of a trading-up strategy from premium to luxury (ie develop exclusive distribution, increase product quality and fuel marketing engine), the findings about Hugo Boss have shown that the brand only partially developed its business model along these lines, resulting in a shift, in 2016, towards a trading-down strategy back to its original positioning in premium. However, in the years until 2020, these trading-up investments have had long-lasting and significant effects on the brand performance. Additionally, further results indicated that the shareholder structure, the choice of management, the brand’s communication and the macroeconomic environment were decisive factors as well.
    Keywords: luxury, premium, fashion, positioning, business model, trading-up/down strategies

  • Deconstructing gender in brand, products and marketing
    Lisa Kenney, Founder and CEO, Reimagine Gender, Sandy Skees, Purpose and Impact Global Lead and Cali Pitchel, Strategy & Insights, Porter Novelli

    As society embraces diversity in gender, so too must companies. People are also expressing their opposition to the growing number of anti-LGBTQA+ legislative efforts, specifically those levied against the trans community. Research shows that a growing number of customers are expecting brands to move away from outmoded views of gender roles. Those brands that do not adapt to this shifting gender landscape will be left behind by the consumers of today and experience stunted brand growth and innovation. This paper explores how brands can navigate an all-gender approach to the social landscape as well as innovation, product development, marketing and communications. We will explore how companies can take a fresh look at gender — whether it be a decades-old organisations or a start-up — and the real challenges businesses face when rethinking stereotypical (and outdated) gender norms. It is time for companies to design, create and think beyond the binary: how does ideation, R&D and marketing look, feel and sound when brands embrace an expansive understanding of gender?
    Keywords: brand, marketing, gender, identity, binary, innovation, product marketing, consumer profiles, media segmentation

  • Should your brand take a stand? Comparing the impact of brand activism and CSR on brand equity
    Mathea Herzberg, Consultant, PUNCH Marketing Consultancy and Christian Rudeloff, Professor, Hochschule Macromedia, University of Applied Sciences

    In a changing world, consumers’ expectations of business corporations are growing. Thus, numerous firms are taking a stand on societal challenges, a phenomenon known as brand activism. In contrast to corporate social responsibility (CSR), brand activism tends to polarise. For this reason, companies that engage in brand activism risk damage to their brand equity due to potentially negative consumer responses. Against this background, the aim of this study is to compare the impact of brand activism and CSR on brand equity. For this purpose, we conducted an online experiment (n = 215) and noted a positive impact of brand activism on brand equity. The impact, however, was not greater than that achieved through CSR. Moderation analyses revealed gender effects on behavioural intentions. We derive the theoretical and managerial implications from these conclusions. This paper seeks to explore how BA, in comparison with CSR, affects brand equity.
    Keywords: brand activism, corporate social responsibility, CSR, brand equity, brand trust, brand identification, purchase intention

  • What separates place branding from destination branding and place marketing despite their common points?
    Mohamed Berrada, Professor, Private University of Marrakech

    This paper addresses two confusing concepts in place branding literature: destination branding and place marketing, which have so far been confused with place branding by some authors and researchers as well as by practitioners, professionals and local officials. These terms, which are closely linked to the promotion of places, their identity, image and reputation, are often considered synonymous and used interchangeably. The paper aims, primarily, to clarify this confusion in order to understand and clearly distinguish each concept and then to determine their similarities and note their differences.
    Keywords: place branding, destination branding, place marketing, branding research

  • A conceptual framework of authentic narrative in resonant branded entertainment: Practitioner perspectives
    Marthinus J.C. Van Loggerenberg, Director, Advertising Program, and Assistant Professor of Advertising, University of San Francisco, Carla Enslin, Head of Postgraduate Studies & Research, Independent Institute of Education, Vega School and Marlize Terblanche-Smit, Professor of Marketing, University of Stellenbosch Business School

    There is a dearth of practical guidelines for the development of branded entertainment that strategically builds brands. This exploratory qualitative research paper proposes a conceptual framework for authentic narrative in branded entertainment practice to achieve brand resonance. In-depth interviews with branded entertainment experts across six continents informed content analysis and the development of a proposed framework. All participants were also invited to review the conceptual framework. Findings suggest that branded entertainment narrative is deemed authentic, and hence enhances potential for resonance, if it is aligned with the brand’s identity; comprises a sincere intent to entertain; imbues emotional meaning; is original; is believable (or plausible); and shows a consideration to craft. The first three dimensions emerged as fundamental to developing authentic narrative. Brand resonance dimensions to be achieved are an emotional connection, audience engagement and a sense of community. Theoretical and practical implications include a conceptual framework of immediate value to practitioners creating branded entertainment by means of important dimensions. The conceptual framework could serve as reference for establishing measurement instruments and developing a planning model for authentic narrative to achieve resonant branded entertainment.
    Keywords: branded entertainment, authentic narrative, branded entertainment narrative, branded entertainment planning, conceptual framework branded entertainment, brand resonance

Volume 11 Number 2

  • Editorial
    Simon Beckett, Publisher
  • The Isosceles Project: Reframing the marketing brief
    Jim Delash, Multi-Channel Marketing Director, Vaccines, US, GSK

    The marketing brief has become the forgotten part of the marketer’s job. While marketers and agencies both agree on the importance of the brief, they also agree that it is underused, or misused, by most marketers. Very few admit to spending enough time developing briefs that get the best work out of their agencies. There is no good explanation for why this is happening other than to speculate that we are making the process too complicated. The Isosceles triangle is used to illustrate how the brief is the foundation on which analytics are taken to the next level and experimentation is advanced through the thinking put into the brief. The brief process is a series of four documents that starts with a master brief that provides the brand strategy, positioning, target market, and so on. These are the things that do not change very often but provide the agency with the background necessary to avoid any missteps. Next is the campaign brief, the money document. This is the one-page sheet that provides simple, clear direction to the agency. This is followed by the words and music brief, which is the uniting of the media and creative teams to develop a plan that will provide value to the audience identified. Finally, an element brief is written to communicate the details of each creative piece needed. Part of the campaign brief will identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) and hypotheses to be tested in the campaign. This advanced experimentation thinking leads to micro tests, which focus on small changes that could have a big impact, and macro tests, which are strategic and long term. It is critical that this thinking happens as the campaign brief is drafted so that there is enough time for implementation. This is where the Isosceles triangle comes together. There are three things to remember from the paper: 1. Great briefs lead to great creatives, which lead to great performance. 2. Briefs do not stand alone but instead are the precursor to better analytics and experimentation. 3. Writing the campaign brief needs to be the top priority for today’s marketer.
    Keywords: marketing brief; experimentation; marketing analytics; creative brief; campaign brief

  • Boots’ ‘prescribe kindness’ campaign: A case study of one UK retailer’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic
    Pete Markey, Chief Marketing Officer, Boots, UK & Ireland Walgreens Boots Alliance

    This paper covers the marketing programmes undertaken during the COVID pandemic by Boots, the UK’s leading health and beauty retailer (part of Walgreens Boots Alliance, with over 2,200 stores ranging from local community pharmacies to large destination health and beauty stores) whose purpose is to serve their customers’ well-being for life. At the start of the pandemic, Boots introduced a new approach, ‘Prescribe Kindness’, throughout the business and in its ongoing communication to customers. The retailer used research and social listening to capture the mood of the nation and the questions and concerns voiced by many during an unprecedented period of certainty. Using this insight, Boots was able to produce timely and relevant content targeted at the right consumers at the right time, meeting their need to have the very best and most relevant health and well-being information during and beyond periods of lockdown. As a result, Boots saw an unprecedented increase in customer engagement and strengthened brand health and customer metrics, which have given the brand a strong foundation as consumers’ lives evolve again beyond the original periods of lockdown in the UK. The brand has also learnt valuable lessons on delivering a faster speed to market with more relevant and targeted content tapping into themes that are highly relevant in people’s lives today and has helped to shape its new brand purpose — ‘Boots. With You. For Life’.
    Keywords: brand; purpose; retail; performance; health

  • Bridging the gap between social media marketing and customer care
    Göran van Hese, Director, Customer Care Solutions, Sparkcentral by Hootsuite

    Many businesses either moved online for the first time in 2020 or expanded their online presence to maintain customer engagement during a time of social distancing. Individual customer-facing teams — from sales and marketing to customer care — found new ways to connect with and serve customers online. Post pandemic, customer preference for digital engagement has persisted. And as the dust settles on the hastily built digital workarounds, brands are now looking for ways to create more consistent customer experiences by integrating strategies across individual teams. This paper examines the benefits of integrating social media marketing and social customer care activities and presents a simple framework to help brands integrate strategies effectively.
    Keywords: Hootsuite; social media; social messaging; social customer care; social customer service; customer experience; digital brand strategy; digital marketing; contact centre

  • Contextual advertising: Then, now, and in the future
    Steve Silvers, SVP Product & GM Customer Experience, Neustar

    Context has always been important to advertising, but in the age of third-party cookies and device IDs, it has been an afterthought. Now that privacy regulations are coming into effect and personal IDs are on the run, contextual advertising is back in favour. And it has come back with a vengeance. The tools available today are far ahead of what was available earlier. These innovations are creating new opportunities for media buyers as well as sellers — not the least of which is a reset of the buyer seller power relationship, a much-needed development if we hold any hope of seeing a more mature, responsible and effective advertising ecosystem in the future. This paper provides an overview of relevant background research from a modern practitioner’s point of view, an introduction to standards efforts and some early evidence of the adoption and effectiveness of contextual advertising. Contextual advertising holds much promise, but fulfilling that promise requires a thorough understanding of how we got here in the first place and a good grasp of where contextual tools are to fit in today’s complex and still evolving advertising ecosystem.
    Keywords: contextual advertising; media buying; programmatic; data privacy; brand personality; band safety; brand suitability; content taxonomy; unified identity

  • That VIP feeling: Activation, measurement techniques and best practices in sport sponsorship
    Spencer C. Wellington, Grants Accountant, Food & Friends, Inc., Artemisia Apostolopoulou, University Professor of Sport Management and Marketing, and David P. Synowka, Professor and Department Head of Sport Management, Robert Morris University

    The primary goal of this research was to examine current trends in sport sponsorship, particularly in the areas of goal setting, sponsorship activation and assessment of sponsorship effectiveness. The secondary goal was to identify best practices in sport sponsorship. Sponsorship executives representing North American professional sport properties, corporate partners and third-party agencies participated in in-depth interviews. Data was content analysed to produce information in three main areas of interest: sponsorship goals, activation strategies and evaluation processes and measures. The results highlight the value of customising sponsorship agreements to fit the business goals of individual sponsors as well as the strong presence of social media in sponsorship activation strategies. Greater sponsor expectations in terms of return on investment measurement and the increased role of analytics in the evaluation of sponsorship effectiveness are also uncovered. A number of best practices in sport sponsorship, practical implications and directions for future research are discussed at the conclusion of this paper.
    Keywords: sport sponsorship, co-branding, sponsorship goals, sponsorship activation, digital media, ROI measurement, business analytics

  • Discovering the video streaming behaviours of Millennials during a pandemic
    Sarah Gerkins and Julia Cronin-Gilmore, Professor and Director of the Doctorate of Business Administration, Bellevue University

    The COVID-19 pandemic changed the television and movie streaming habits of Millennial consumers. This study examines the streaming services Millennials subscribe to, which features are important to them, the genres they are watching, the technology they use for streaming, how much content they stream, how these categories have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic and what they anticipate in the future regarding streaming. A survey and focus group were conducted, and the data revealed that 96 per cent of respondents subscribe to at least one video streaming service. Overall, streaming has increased for the surveyed Millennials since March 2020. Streaming businesses and advertisers will be interested to learn about the high expectations that Millennials have for personalisation in their entire streaming experience even, and especially, during a pandemic. Furthermore, the qualitative results expose how motives for streaming have changed and fluctuated as a result of the pandemic.
    Keywords: Millennial, COVID-19, video streaming, Netflix, binge-watching

  • Exploring political consumerism and the emerging role of political brand personality
    Kathryn R. Mercurio, Assistant Professor of Marketing, and K Damon Aiken, Thomas Family Fellow in Business, California State University, Chico

    This paper explores how an established practice of political consumerism (ie consumers punishing or rewarding on the basis of politics) influences a new notion of political brand personality (PBP: the perceived political attributes of a brand). Study 1 identifies and delineates PBP traits. Study 2 assesses and applies foundational PBP traits to prominent US firms. Study 3 empirically investigates how PBP influences consumer decision-making across unidentifiable experimental firms. Results show that people do ascribe distinct political traits to brands and that consumer behaviour is significantly affected by PBP. Consumers seek self-congruency in which their political values are in line with the PBP traits projected by the products they purchase. These findings give rise to myriad theoretical and managerial implications.
    Keywords: political, brand personality, political consumerism, self-congruence, political brand personality

Volume 11 Number 1

  • Editorial
    Simon Beckett, Publisher
  • Capitalising on brand purpose: Creating brand equity and business value from the ground up
    Seraj Bharwani, Chief Strategy Officer, AcuityAds and Ariela Nerubay, EVP & CMO, Curacao

    Curacao is one of the most trusted brands in the US Hispanic community. It has earned the trust of its customers and the broader, multigenerational, US Hispanic community with a clear purpose of helping to improve the standard of living of its core community. The brand consistently delivers on this purpose with a 360-degree proposition that provides access to credit, financial education and household products and services, as well as through social connections and culturally relevant programming at its network of physical stores, employment and charitable contributions via the Curacao Foundation. With over four decades of commitment to its community, the brand has gained sufficient credibility and is now able to leverage its customer relationships and data to increase its business value. It is now bolstering its portfolio of products and services through strategic partnerships and expanding its offering nationally through e-commerce and retail media to ensure steady growth and profitability in the years to come.
    Keywords: brand purpose, US Hispanic audience, Hispanic media, brand trust, multicultural marketing, LatinX

  • Engage with empathy: Improving customer experience with artificial intelligence
    Tara Dezao, Product Marketing Director, AdTech and MarTech, Pegasystems

    Change is inevitable, and sometimes transformation happens gradually. At other times, as the global pandemic showed us, it happens without warning. Either way, traditional marketing tactics have no place in modern customer experiences (CX). So how can brands build trust and develop deeper relationships through ever-changing sentiment or market conditions? They need to show customers that they understand their unique situation and can provide tangible value. Marketing and customer engagement practitioners can achieve true one-to-one engagement with artificial intelligence (AI)-powered, ‘always-on’ models that continuously engage customers during calculated ‘moments of need’. Legacy marketing techniques will no longer be sustainable in a rapidly evolving business landscape riddled with data constraints, regulatory challenges and labour shortages. Organisations need to move away from data silos and channel-specific strategies and instead rely on a single ‘brain’ that helps orchestrate engagement with each customer. Brands can survive only by moving beyond sales and mixing additional messages that support retention, service, nurture and resilience actions into their marketing framework; only then can they deliver truly personalised customer experiences across channels while always remaining sensitive to their circumstances.
    Keywords: artificial intelligence; empathy; customer experience; empathy; marketing; data

  • Do not push me: A disruptive content and media transformation
    Brad Armstrong, Head of Content, Creative, and Customer Journey, NI

    Traditional marketing, especially in the B2B space is one that is designed to push content to its audience. This strategy is built on a comfortable and default content and media plan that is due for disruption. Media and content consumption behaviour as well as increasing privacy regulation is further catalysing the need for this disruption. This paper proposes a move from traditional marketing to a modernised content publishing model that leverages the evolving media landscape while infusing the purpose and objectives of the business. This offers an opportunity to rethink how modern marketers engage with their audience by building a relationship through both traditional media push and modern subscription-based pull strategies and tactics. The author outlines six areas that are ripe for disruption that will push and pull you to think, act and measure like a publisher, resulting in a consistent content promise that is both valuable and entertaining to your audience, customers and your business.
    Keywords: social media, content strategy, B2B marketing, subscription, digital experience, publisher

  • Brand purpose, authenticity and impact measurement
    Jenny Caven, Former Director of External Affairs, Slimming World

    COVID-19 has changed the world. The post-pandemic world will not be the same as it was before March 2020. In a world where many marketing and business elements were already experiencing a technological revolution and having to adapt practices, COVID-19 accelerated change, eliciting a rapid move to a virtual world. Alongside new digital behaviours there are greater demands on organisations from stakeholders to demonstrate behaviours and actions that engender trust. Customers want reassurance that personal data and privacy will be protected by organisations with good governance in place. Stakeholders also have growing awareness of environmental issues and their power of influence on organisational behaviour and sustainability. Organisations face increased pressure too to behave ethically on social issues around diversity, equality and inclusion. All of these factors place greater demands on organisations to demonstrate clear brand purpose that inspires trust. And actions must match words. Stakeholders and customers will not accept empty promises or deceptive practices. The COVID-19 pandemic has also wrought political and economic disruption, and stakeholders — customers, employees and shareholders — have increasingly sought refuge in brands as trust in government, state institutions and media has fallen. This disruption has also seen social media overtaking traditional media as a source of news and information. This rapid change has created both opportunity and challenge for communicators and marketers. This paper suggests that, to thrive in the post-pandemic environment, organisations that seek to reassert their purpose and values and demonstrate authentic behaviour in delivering on their promises are likely to establish deeper trust and a strong reputation. To measure the impact of purpose, authenticity and trust, it is necessary to develop a framework that evaluates and takes into account exposure, comment, enablement and interaction; considers multiple stakeholder and audience groups; and aligns communications goals with organisational objectives.
    Keywords: communication, reputation, purpose, authenticity, trust, measurement

  • Comparing social style platform brand and brand community social content: A machine learning-based lexical analysis
    Curt A. Gilstrap, Associate Professor of Business Communication, The University of Southern Indiana, Morgan Hoey, Senior Director of Training, Multimedia and Consulting, AVIAN, Natasha Danielle Smith, Director of Communications on the Brand & Communications team, Voya Financial and Sandy Cheng, Manager, Xmotors.ai

    This paper discusses the social media posts generated by style brands and their brand communities on Instagram and Twitter relative to social commerce integrations — the combined nature of brands, online brand communities and social platforms referred to here as social style platforms (SSPs). To accomplish this, 9,221 SSP brand posts and 63,397 SSP brand community posts were captured across Instagram and Twitter relative to six highly engaged SSPs. The results indicated that style-based content themes shared on SSP brand accounts and SSP brand community accounts were greater in strength than many other themes; that frequent brand mention content themes were more likely to be congruent across data sets; that some content theme incongruities existed between brands and brand community posts relative to exchange actions and social contest references; and that some content topics were proliferated, resonated and reciprocated. Additionally, direct brand mentions and brand/self-connections played a unique role in how social style brands and brand communities posted within SSPs as they engaged in brand support by talking about the brand and brand community members regularly. Based on these findings, this paper recommends that future SSP brand managers encourage brand communities to discuss style relative to brand more often than buying behaviours as a way to enhance and grow online brand community membership.
    Keywords: social style platform, lexical analysis, s-commerce, brand communities, conflict of interest

  • A deeper look at the 2020 Facebook boycott and related themes of misinformation: A text mining analysis of topics, emotion and sentiment
    Laura F. Bright, Associate Professor of Media Analytics at Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations, Moody College of Communication at University of Texas at Austin, et al.

    Facebook has repeatedly come under fire from consumers, companies and government agencies in recent years owing to the prevalence of misinformation on its platform as well as the way it handles information related to social justice and public health, among other things. Using a large data set of 604,269 social media mentions sourced from popular social platforms (eg Twitter and Reddit), this study set out to discover themes associated with misinformation and the Facebook advertising boycott that occurred in July 2020. To understand the discourse, a linguistic analysis approach called theme extraction was used. This method employs machine learning and natural language processing to reveal relationships in the data that may otherwise be buried in the mass of social media mentions. The most prominent theme identified among social media users was the desire that Facebook and other social media platforms actively stop the spread of misinformation. Other trending topics included #StopHateForProfit, lockdown protests, hate speech policy, news as spam, right-wing politics and suspended ads. Managerial implications for advertisers are discussed as they relate to social media management and how misinformation impacts brand engagement on social platforms.
    Keywords: Facebook boycott, misinformation, media effects, social media, textual analysis

  • Why people use virtual assistants: Understanding engagement with Alexa
    Valerie K. Jones, Associate Professor, College of Journalism & Mass Communications, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

    This study explores how and why early adopters use voice-powered artificial intelligence (AI) assistants and integrate them into their lives. These assistants are examined as personalisable, highly interactive media capable of building a two-way relationship with users. Using the framework of uses and gratifications theory and the Calder–Malthouse set of experiences, this study analyses what value engagement with virtual assistants provides consumers, what the meaning of the experiences are and what contextual factors influence those ongoing interactions. Insights from in-depth interviews reveal three overarching types of experiences with Alexa: removing friction, enabling personalisation and extending self and enriching life. These experiences comprise two types of goals satisfied through interaction with Alexa: Those that related to ‘Helping do’ — focusing on functional elements or tasks that Alexa performed — and those that related to ‘Helping become’ — focusing on enabling users to become better versions of themselves. This is the first qualitative study globally to explore the meaning of interacting with AI assistants, and establishes a much-needed foundation of consumer understanding, rooted in the words and perspectives of the audience themselves, on which to build future research. Recommendations for helping organisations identify opportunities for building their brands through voice-powered AI are discussed.
    Keywords: virtual assistant, voice assistant, smart speaker, artificial intelligence, uses and gratifications