Mocking competitors: good for brand image? - UvA-DARE

Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
The influence of advertisement type and competition type on brand image
Name:
Rohini Vanita Bhaggoe
Student number:
10077545
Date:
23 - 06 - 2015
Qualification:
MSc. in Communication Science
Track:
Corporate Communication
Institution:
University of Amsterdam, Graduate School of Communication
Supervisor:
dr. ing. Arie den Boon
Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
Abstract
Purpose- The purpose of this research is to investigate the influence of a mocking
advertising strategy on brand image and how this influence differs from the influence
of a traditional advertising strategy on brand image. Furthermore, this research aims
to determine whether there is a difference in effect of advertising strategy between
direct and indirect competition. Brand engagement and motivation for information
processing are assessed as moderators of the relationship between advertisement type
and brand image.
Design/ methodology/ approach- This study makes use of an experimental research
strategy with two independent variables, namely advertisement type (displaying own
qualities versus mocking the competition) and competition type (direct competition
versus indirect competition). A total of 157 participants took part in the experiment,
which was distributed and collected via the online questionnaire program Qualtrics.
Findings- From the results of this study it can be derived that displaying a brand’s
own qualities has a more positive influence on brand image than mocking
competitors. When a mocking strategy is adopted, mocking indirect competitors has a
greater positive impact on brand image than mocking direct competitors. When brand
engagement is high, the displaying of a brand’s own qualities has a positive influence
on brand image and motivation for information processing does not have a significant
moderating role on the relationship between advertisement type and brand image.
Practical implications- This research provides interesting and relevant information
for companies that are creating advertisements for brands and are considering
adopting a mocking strategy.
Keywords- Brand Image, Advertising, Competition, Mocking Strategy, Brand
Engagement, Motivation for Information Processing
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
Table of Contents
Introduction .................................................................................................................. 1
Theoretical Background .............................................................................................. 3
Brand image......................................................................................................................... 3
Traditional advertising versus mocking............................................................................ 4
CASE McDonald’s & Burger King .................................................................................. 5
Direct competition versus indirect competition................................................................ 6
CASE Nestlé mocking indirect competitor Apple ............................................................ 7
Brand engagement .............................................................................................................. 9
Motivation for information processing ........................................................................... 10
Methods ....................................................................................................................... 12
Design ................................................................................................................................. 12
Sampling & Subjects ......................................................................................................... 12
Stimuli ................................................................................................................................ 13
Procedure ........................................................................................................................... 15
Item generation ................................................................................................................. 16
Results ......................................................................................................................... 18
Univariate analyses ........................................................................................................... 18
Multivariate analyses ........................................................................................................ 19
Conclusion & Discussion ........................................................................................... 23
Conclusion.......................................................................................................................... 23
Discussion........................................................................................................................... 25
References ................................................................................................................... 30
Appendix 1
Competitors mocking Apple ........................................................... 33
Appendix 2
Demographic characteristics ........................................................... 34
Appendix 3
Stimuli: Advertisements .................................................................. 35
Appendix 4
Experiment ....................................................................................... 37
Appendix 5
Variables and Propositions ............................................................. 42
Appendix 6
Correlation analyses ........................................................................ 43
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
Introduction
Remember #Bendgate? A hashtag introduced in September 2014 in order for
customers to complain about the bending of the iPhone 6. On 28 September 2014
Apple, the most valuable global brand of 2014 (Interbrand, 2014), launched the
iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 plus and people were lining up to purchase the proclaimed
most advanced iPhone to date (Apple, 2014). Within a day a video surfaced on the
Internet, in which was shown that the iPhone 6 could bend and things got frantic.
Although Apple only received nine official complaints from customers about their
iPhones actually bending (Forbes, 2014), the hashtag Bendgate became a trending
topic on social media for consumer complaints, parodies and jokes (Twitter, 2015).
Apple was brutally attacked by both consumers and other (competitive) brands
(McCarthy, 2014). Apple’s direct competitors in the smartphone industry, such as
Samsung and LG, released advertisements on the Internet in which they were publicly
mocking Apple (Appendix 1). But also other companies, such as Heineken and Delta
Light, released advertisements targeting Apple (Appendix 1).
One might wonder why. What is the reason that companies release
advertisements in which another brand is publicly mocked? Brands want people to
like them. Brand image is very important for brands and by releasing advertisements
in which they display their own features, use humor and mock other brands (either
direct or indirectly connected), they try to improve their own brand image in the
minds of the consumers (Keller, 2013).
In today’s highly competitive market, companies are using traditional
advertising strategies, in which their products and its features are promoted, and are
increasingly adopting a mocking or parodying strategy, in which they publicly
ridicule their competitors (Haury, 2012). But what are the effects of mocking and
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
parodying on the image of these companies? Does it improve a consumer’s attitude
towards the advertising company or does it have a negative effect? In the current
literature, the topic of mocking and parodying has not yet been thoroughly discussed,
thus it remains unclear what the effects of the ‘mocking type’ of advertisements are
and whether it is more effective than traditional advertising.
This thesis will be an addition to the existing literature on this topic and will
be particularly interesting for companies that are currently engaging in mocking/
parody advertising, as the results will display whether this strategy is beneficial or
damaging for a company’s brand image. Further, it is interesting for others
considering using a mocking technique. It also provides consumers with insight of
how advertisements are set up by brands and that some advertisements are clearly
developed to deliberately hurt other brands. The research question of this thesis is as
follows:
“How does the type of advertisement and the type of competition
influence brand image?
The purpose of this research is to investigate the influence of a mocking advertising
strategy on brand image and how it differs from a traditional advertising strategy.
Furthermore, this research aims to determine whether there is a difference in effect of
a mocking strategy between direct and indirect competition. In the theoretical
background of this thesis the current literature and theories on the topic will be
extensively discussed, followed by the methodology section, in which will be
explained how the experiment is conducted. Hereafter, the results of the experiment
will be presented, followed by a conclusion and a discussion, in which pointers for
future research will be given.
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
Theoretical Background
In this chapter the concept brand image will be described extensively, followed by the
differences between traditional advertising and mocking advertising and also the
differences between direct and indirect competition. Furthermore, the concepts brand
engagement and motivation for information processing according to the Elaboration
Likelihood Model will be discussed.
Brand image
Brand image can be defined in multiple ways. Dobni and Zinkhan (1990, p.118)
define brand image as ‘the concept of a brand that is held by the consumer’, whereas
Keller (2013, p. 72) defines it as ‘the consumers’ perceptions about a brand, as
reflected by the brand associations held in consumer memory’. Both definitions carry
out that brand image is subjective, due to the fact that people assign and attribute
cognitive and affective meaning and that, therefore, brand image can be altered by
marketing and other persuasive activities. Some authors (such as Fombrun & van
Riel, 1997) state that brand image can be used interchangeably with reputation and
other authors (such as Chun, 2005) see it as part of the reputation of a company,
which consists of the corporate identity, desired identity and image. Chun also adds
that an image about an organization can be formed without having any real experience
with the company.
When someone would ask what comes to mind when thinking of a particular
brand, one would probably reply with associations one has with the brand. Other
brands carry a different set of associations. Creating strong, favorable and unique
associations in the mind of the consumers and increasing brand awareness by
maximizing brand exposure can lead to a positive brand image (Keller, 2013;
Fombrun & van Riel, 1997). Developing, communicating and maintaining a brand’s
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
image is considered crucial to a brand’s long-term success (Bhat & Reddy, 1998).
Additionally, a good and positive brand image attracts stakeholder engagement and
builds customer satisfaction and/ or retention and could also lead to being seen as a
good employer for future employees (Abratt & Kleyn, 2012).
Traditional advertising versus mocking
Advertising is a form of marketing communication, which concentrates on
‘establishing a set of feelings, emotions and beliefs about a brand or organization’ and
changing the behavior of people towards that brand or organization (Baines, Fill &
Page, 2011, p.381). It should be seen as a process, from creating brand awareness to
brand knowledge to preference and eventually purchase (Lavidge & Steiner, 2000;
Clow & Baack, 2007). There are also many forms of advertising, everything from
radio and television to the newer online advertising, and from making use of
celebrities to consumer- generated advertising.
In this thesis a distinction will be made between traditional advertising and
mocking. When a brand advertises its own products and services and displays own
qualities and features, it is considered traditional advertising. The focus lies only upon
the brand itself. When a brand is ridiculing or parodying another brand in its
advertisements, whether it is an advertisement or a commercial, it is considered
mocking. In this type of advertising humor is used to influence the audience responses
towards the advertisement. According to research (Zhang & Zinkhan, 2006; Jean,
2011) humor helps to influence audience responses in favor of the advertiser. In
today’s highly competitive market, companies go to great lengths to outweigh their
competitors and one way to do so is by pointing out the flaws of their competitors
(Haury, 2012).
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
The purpose of mocking is to unveil the truth about a brand, mock consumers
for following a brand and damage the brand image of the competing brand in a
humorous way in order to positively increase the brand image of the advertising brand
(Lou & Wang, 2013; Sabri & Michel, 2014). The funnier and more relevant the
humor, the more likely it is to cause an attitudinal change in the consumer in the
direction aspired by the advertiser (Zhang & Zinkhan, 2006). Because brands that
adopt a mocking strategy, use humor and focus on increasing their own brand image
by ridiculing others, it is expected that this strategy is more successful than a
traditional advertising strategy. This leads to the following hypothesis:
H1: The positive influence of mocking the competition on brand image is
greater than the positive influence of displaying own qualities on brand
image.
Mocking competitors in commercials and advertisements is phenomenon that we are
already familiar with, as it has existed almost as long as brands themselves (Fournier
& Avery, 2011). Especially big companies with only a few competitors have been
using mocking strategies for decades and are still using them. In the case below an
example of a mocking commercial is given.
CASE McDonald’s & Burger King
McDonald’s and Burger King are both global chains of fast food restaurants and are
considered direct competitors, as they are competing in the same market with similar
products and prices. In the past and present both brands have ridiculed each other in
commercials and advertisements, in order to change consumers opinions in a
favorable direction and to show their superiority over the other. A recent example is a
McDonald’s commercial in which a little boy is shown holding McDonald’s french
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
fries and eating it in a playground (1). Every time when he sits down with a
McDonald’s bag his friends come along and eat or take his food (2). At the end of the
clip, he comes up with the genius idea to cover his food with a Burger King bag and
no one takes his food any longer. The main message of this video was that
McDonald’s is better than Burger King and it worked as it became very popular and
received almost 200.000 likes on YouTube (YouTube.com, 2015).
Figure 1
McDonald's commercial mocking Burger King.
Direct competition versus indirect competition
Porter (2008) describes competition, in a business perspective, as a pervasive force
that involves companies contesting markets, which has intensified dramatically in the
last decades. Companies strive to deliver superior value to their customers, which is
the ability to meet or exceed the needs of customers in an efficient way. In this thesis
a distinction will be made between direct and indirect competition. Direct competitors
are companies that are competing in the same market space, selling somewhat similar
products or services against respectively similar prices. In most cases there are a few
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
big competitors in a market and other smaller competitors, but there are also markets
in which all companies are alike and are competing on the same level. For example, in
the soft drink market Coca-Cola and Pepsi are the biggest global producers with
smaller competitors on every continent. Another example is the laptop market, in
which a variety of brands are all competing on a higher level (Apple, Samsung, Dell,
Asus etc.).
Indirect competitors are companies in different markets, targeting different
customers, selling different products and/or services. These companies can be
considered unrelated. However, when there is an opportunity to improve one’s own
brand image by making fun of another brand (either a direct or indirect competitor)
companies seize the opportunity. With a humorous advertisement they can influence
an audience response in a direction that is favorable (Zhang & Zinkhan, 2006). In the
case below an example is given.
CASE Nestlé mocking indirect competitor Apple
When the hashtag #Bendgate surfaced, Nestlé’s brand KitKat also released an
advertisement with the statement “We don’t bend, we #break!” and a picture of a
breaking KitKat (McCarthy, 2014). Their aim was to tweet a picture with three
purposes: (1) the advertisement had to show humor, (2) it should mock another brand,
while (3) promoting the own brand. It this case they have done a good job. They
received many likes and many people retweeted this message, but above all, they
mocked Apple in a brilliant way, because they cleverly incorporated their slogan into
their punch line.
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
Figure 2
Nestlé’s brand KitKat making fun of Apple #Bendgate.
Direct competitors are known for their rivalry and they will attack their competitors in
many ways. They will mock product features and even the ignorance of the customer
base, all aimed to attack the reputation or brand image of their competitor (Lou &
Wang, 2013). For indirect competitors, damaging another is not really important and
they usually only (playfully) attack other brands when an opportunity to showcase
humor is presented, like in the case of Nestlé. Thus, it is expected that mocking direct
competition will have a greater influence on brand image than mocking indirect
competition. This leads to the following hypothesis:
H2: The influence on brand image of advertisements mocking direct
competition is greater than the influence of advertisements mocking
indirect competition.
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
With regards to the purpose of mocking advertisements, namely to increase the brand image
of the advertising company and to attack competitors (Lou & Wang, 2013; Sabri & Michel,
2014), it is expected that the combination mocking advertisement aimed at direct
competition will have the most influence on the brand image of the advertising company.
The research question is stated as follows:
RQ: Which combination of advertisement type and competition type has the
most positive influence on brand image?
Brand engagement
Brand engagement is defined as ‘the level of a consumer’s cognitive, emotional and
behavioral investment in specific brand interactions’ (Hollebeek & Chen, 2014, p. 62).
When a consumer’s brand engagement is high, it could lead to customer loyalty, a superior
competitive advantage and profitability. According to Hollebeek and Chen brand
engagement does not necessarily mean that the consumer is positive about the brand, as
engagement literally means that someone is involved or interested in something. Someone
can be interested in the brand for negative purposes, such as posting negative reviews online
or attacking the brand in the media. Thus, brand engagement could be either negatively
valenced or positively valenced. In this thesis, however, only positive brand engagement is
measured, because only positive brand engagement could lead to a positive brand image.
Brand engagement can be very favorable for a company as it is a mean to elicit
active engagement (Keller, 2013). Active engagement is the extent to which consumers are
willing to invest personal resources, such as time and energy, beyond consumption or
purchase. Customers become brand evangelists (customers who believe so much in a brand
that they try to convince others to purchase or use the brand) or brand ambassadors, actively
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
promoting the brand to others, creating more awareness and increasing the strength of brand
associations. Creating brand meaning in the minds of consumers, by heightening awareness
and strengthening associations leads to an enhanced brand image (Hoeffler & Keller, 2002).
When the brand’s own qualities are displayed, this could lead to a more positive brand
image when the consumer has high brand engagement. Mocking the competition could not
lead to a more positive brand image when engagement is high, because mocking has little to
do with the brand itself. This leads to the following hypothesis:
H3: Displaying the brand’s own qualities has a more positive influence on
brand image than mocking the competition, when brand engagement is high.
Motivation for information processing
The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) is a general framework for organizing,
categorizing and understanding the basic processes underlying the effectiveness of
persuasive communication (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). In this model there are two distinct
routes to persuasion: central en peripheral. The central route of persuasion focuses on the
cognitive activity, whereby the person draws upon prior experience and knowledge in order
to process the relevant information (Petty, Briñol & Priester, 2009). When the motivation of
the person is high (meaning that the information is personally relevant and there is a need
for cognition) the information will be processed via the central route.
When someone’s motivation or ability to process the information is low, persuasion
can still occur via the peripheral route. Simple cues or judgmental heuristics in the
persuasion context, such as source attractiveness, expert opinion and the amount of
arguments, can influence and change attitudes. Nonetheless, research has shown that
attitude changes based on peripheral cues are mainly short-term effective and are less
enduring than attitude change via the central route (Petty, Briñol & Priester, 2009).
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
Brands create advertisements in order to change attitudes. When their persuasive
communication is processed via the central route, the consumers are focusing on the brand
message and their motivation for processing depends on prior experience and knowledge.
When the persuasive communication has no relevance to them or they are unable to process
the information on a cognitive level, they focus on simple peripheral cues. If the attitude
change is positive in the minds of the consumers, it could lead to an increase in purchase or
consumption. Both routes, central and peripheral, could arrange such a change. The
difference is that the attitude change caused by the central route will (probably) last longer
than the change caused by the peripheral cues. When it is the goal of the brand to influence
brand image, they aim for a long-term change in the mind of the consumers. Thus,
information processing via the central route is preferred, when motivation for processing is
high. Information processing is likely to benefit the brand more when it displays the
qualities of the brand itself, instead of mocking other brands. This leads to the fourth and
final hypothesis:
H4: Displaying the brand’s own qualities has a more positive influence on
brand image than mocking the competition when the motivation for
information processing is high.
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
Figure 3
Conceptual model.
Methods
The research objective of this thesis is to gain more knowledge about the influence of
mocking competitors on brand image and to fill the gap that currently exists in the
literature regarding mocking. An experiment will be performed, as it is the best way
to study causal links between variables, while controlling for external factors
(Saunders & Lewis, 2012; Boeije, ‘t Hart & Hox, 2009).
Design
This study makes use of an experimental research strategy with two independent
variables, namely advertisement type and competition type. The research design can
be specified as a 2 (displaying own qualities versus mocking the competition) x 2
(direct competition versus indirect competition) between-subjects factorial design.
Each participant was randomly assigned to one of four conditions. The conditions are
shown in figure 4.
Sampling & Subjects
The sampling methods used for this experiment were convenience sampling and
snowball sampling. Due to the time restrictions for this research, people close at hand
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
were asked to participate and to share this experiment with people in their own
environment. However, this means that the external validity cannot be completely
ensured and generalizing to the entire population is not possible.
The online questionnaire program Qualtrics was used to build the experiment
and was distributed to the participants via e-mail and social media networks
(Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp). Participants could choose to fill in the
questionnaire on the computer or via a smartphone. A total of 157 participants (of
different genders, ages and educational levels) took part in the experiment. An
overview of the socio-demographic characteristics of the participants is given in
Appendix 2.
The analyses show that 82.1 percent of the participants, who watched one of
the Samsung advertisements, were already familiar with this brand. Of the
participants that watched an Ikea advertisement, 67.1 percent was already familiar
with the brand. The products of these brands are not purchased on a frequent basis,
the majority of the participants (77.1 percent) purchases a product from Samsung
and/or Ikea on a yearly base or very seldom.
As can be derived from the table, more females (66.9 percent) than males
(33.1 percent) have participated in this study. The age of the participants varies
between 11 and 57, with a mean of 28.5 years (SD= 9.52). Most participants are in the
ages between 16 and 25 years. The level of education is also unevenly represented, as
the most participants completed or were currently enrolled in a university program
(46.5 percent).
Stimuli
To explore the differences between advertisement type and competition type and to
determine which combination has the greatest influence on brand image, this
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
experiment makes use of four conditions. In this experiment three existing and wellknown brands are used in the experiment, namely Samsung, Ikea and Apple, which
all appear in the top 30 of Best Global Brands (#1 Apple, #7 Samsung and #26 Ikea)
(Interbrand, 2014). The video clips are existing advertisements from Samsung and
Ikea.
The first condition shows a commercial from Samsung, a direct competitor of
Apple, promoting the qualities of the new smartphone Samsung Galaxy 6 and 6 Edge.
The second condition shows Samsung again, but the commercial is now solely based
on mocking their direct competitor Apple. The third condition shows a commercial of
Ikea, an indirect competitor of Apple, displaying the qualities of their products. The
fourth and final condition shows Ikea again, this time publicly mocking Apple’s iPad
in a commercial about the Ikea catalogue. Screenshots of the commercials, thus the
different conditions, are shown in Appendix 3. An overview of the stimuli is given in
figure 3.
Figure 3
The four conditions of the experiment.
A pretest was performed to determine whether the mocking advertisements were
indeed perceived as mocking advertisements by participants and to examine if
participants noticed which brand was being mocked. This pretest was successful, as it
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
showed that all participants (n= 11) named Apple as the mocked brand in the
advertisements. They also recognized that Samsung and Apple are direct competitors
and that Apple and Ikea are indirect competitors. This concluded that the
advertisements were clear and were approved for use in the actual experiment.
Procedure
The experiment started with a short introduction, including the subject of the thesis,
the duration of the experiment and the anonymous processing of the data. The
introduction was followed by three demographic questions regarding gender, age and
educational level.
Hereafter the stimuli followed. To check whether the brand image of the
participant changes after watching the commercial, it was necessary to ask questions
about the brand both previous to the video clip and afterwards. The brands and
accompanying video clips were randomized, meaning that every participant was
randomly ascribed to one of four conditions and either saw Samsung or Ikea
promoting their own products or mocking the brand Apple. If they viewed a
commercial in which Apple was mocked, the questions regarding brand image were
followed by a manipulation check to see if they understood which brand was being
mocked. From the results of the manipulation check it can be derived that 27,6
percent of the participants did not fill in the brand that was being mocked, instead
filled in the brand that created the advertisement. The manipulation proved to be
significant (χ2 (1, N= 46)= 38.35, p< 0.001).
After the stimuli, questions about brand awareness followed, to check whether
the participant was already familiar with the brand and how often he or she purchases
products from that particular brand. Additionally, four questions regarding brand
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
engagement and six questions regarding motivation for information processing
followed, after which the participant reached the end of the experiment.
This experiment was created with the online survey program Qualtrics. The
participants received a link to the experiment via mail, WhatsApp or social media,
thus they could participate in their natural habitat. Participation in one’s natural
habitat has the advantage that a participant does not feel any pressure from the
researcher, which reduces the amount of social desirable answers. A risk, however, is
that a participant does not feel any pressure or motivation to finish the experiment or
is distracted while participating.
The experiment was held as short as possible, due to the fact that filling in
long questionnaires might cause participants to lose interest and randomly select
answers, without actually reading the questions. Although, at the beginning of the
experiment it was stated that the duration was about ten minutes, the actual mean
duration was 5 minutes and 41 seconds. The full experiment can be found in
Appendix 4.
Item generation
In this experiment brand image is the dependent variable and brand engagement and
motivation for information processing are the moderating variables. Every variable is
measured by a set of propositions. For every proposition the participant could indicate
to which extent he or she agreed on a five point Likert scale, ranging from ‘I
completely disagree’ to ‘I completely agree’. An overview the variables and the
accompanying propositions can be found in Appendix 5. The reliability of the scales
is assessed with Cronbach’s alpha. An alpha higher than 0.60 indicates a reliable scale
and higher than 0.80 a very reliable scale (Field, 2013; Van Groningen & De Boer,
2010).
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
Brand Image
The variable brand image is measured two times, once before the stimuli and once
afterwards. The variable is composed out of four propositions, among which the
proposition ‘BRAND evokes a good feeling’. The first and second condition showed
the brand Samsung in the propositions and the third and fourth condition showed
propositions with the brand Ikea. The brand image scale before the stimuli is reliable
with a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.77. The brand image scale after the stimuli is also a
reliable scale with a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.82. The reliability of the scales cannot be
improved more than 0.10 by removing an item.
Brand engagement
The moderating variable brand engagement also consists of four propositions, among
which the proposition ‘I consider my favorite brands to be part of myself’. These
propositions form a very reliable scale with a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.82. The
reliability of the scale cannot be improved with 0.10 by removing an item.
Motivation for information processing
The moderating variable motivation for information processing consist of six
propositions, of which three of them are measuring the central route of the
Elaboration Likelihood Model (example ‘The advertisement in relevant to me’) and
the other three are measuring the peripheral route of the model (example ‘I liked the
visuals in the advertisement). The scale for the central route proved to be reliable with
a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.76. The reliability could not be improved by 0.10 by
removing an item from the scale. The scale for the peripheral route proved to be
slightly less reliable with a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.56. The item ‘The advertisement
was funny’ is removed, because this increases the reliability (α= 0.64).
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
According to the Elaboration Likelihood Model, information is processed via
either the central or the peripheral route (with some exceptions). The scores on the
central scale and the scores on the peripheral scales are both added up. The route with
the highest score indicates the route of processing.
Results
In this chapter the analyses and the derived results will be discussed in order to
provide an answer to the main research question.
Univariate analyses
The results of this experiment indicate that the brand image of the participants of
Samsung and Ikea were fairly positive with a mean of 3.73 (SD= 0.63). The brand
image of these brands after the stimuli was even more positive with a mean of 3.78
(SD= 0.65). The brand engagement of the participants can also be considered
relatively strong with a mean of 3.52 (SD= 0.70). The central route and peripheral
route of motivation for information processing, however, show a difference in means.
The central route had a mean score of 3.09 (SD= 0.74) and the peripheral route a
mean score of 3.30 (SD= 0.81). Thus, the peripheral route has been travelled more
often. An overview of the means, the standard deviations and the skewness of the
variables is displayed in Table 1.
Table 1
Overview of the means, standard deviations and the skewness of the variables.
Variable
M
SD
Skewness
Brand Image (before stimuli)
3.73
0.63
-0.64
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
Brand Image (after stimuli)
3.78
0.65
-0.27
Brand Engagement
3.52
0.70
-0.41
Motivation for Information Processing- Central route
3.09
0.74
-0.33
Motivation for Information Processing- Peripheral route
3.30
0.81
-0.20
Multivariate analyses
Randomization check
Whether the randomization to conditions was successful was examined by
investigating the distribution of gender, age and educational level over the four
experimental conditions. With the two independent variables advertisement type and
competition type and the control variable age a UNIANOVA was conducted. There
was no significant effect of experimental condition on age (F (3,152) = 0.31, p=
0.815).
To check the distribution between conditions for the nominal control variables
Chi-square tests were conducted. The conditions did not differ with regard to gender
(χ2 (3, N= 157)= 2.74, p= 0.434) or educational level (χ2 (15, N= 157)= 16.01, p=
0.382. There were no significant differences between the conditions, thus, based on
these analyses the randomization can be considered successful.
Correlation analysis
To check whether the control variables have to be included in the analyses as
covariates, correlation analyses have been performed. For continuous independent and
dependent variables a Pearson correlation analysis has been conducted. For the
independent and dependent variables, in which one of them is dichotomous, a
Spearman correlation analysis is performed. For all the independent and dependent
variables that are categorical, chi-square tests are conducted.
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
From the results it can be derived that none of the three control variables (age,
gender and educational level) have to be included in the analyses as covariates for
brand image, brand engagement and motivation for information processing. The
analyses are displayed in Appendix 6.
Influence of advertisement type on brand image
To assess whether the advertisement strategy of mocking competitors has more
influence on brand image than advertising one’s own brand qualities, a paired sample
t-test has been performed. The analysis shows a significant increase in brand image
after watching the advertisement, t (156)= -2.15, p= 0.030, 95% CI [-0.10; -0.00]. It
was expected that the influence of mocking the competitors would be greater than the
influence of displaying own qualities, however the results indicate otherwise.
Displaying own qualities changes from a mean brand image of 3.75 (SD= 0.67) to a
mean of 3.81 (SD= 0.68), as for mocking advertisements the mean changes from 3.70
(SD= 0.57) to a mean of 3.75 (SD= 0.61). Hypothesis 1 is rejected.
Table 2
Overview of the influence of advertisement type on brand image.
Advertisement Type
Brand Image
M
SD
SE
n
Displaying own qualities
Before
3.75
0.67
0.07
86
After
3.81
0.68
0.07
86
Before
3.70
0.57
0.07
71
After
3.75
0.61
0.07
71
Mocking competitors
Influence of competition type on brand image
Another paired sample t-test has been performed to assess the influence of
competition type on brand image. It is expected that mocking direct competitors has a
greater influence on brand image than when indirect competitors are being mocked.
20
Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
There is no significant increase in brand image after watching mocking
advertisements. Nonetheless, the results shows that the influence on brand image is
greatest when indirect competitors are being mocked, as the brand image increases
from a mean of 3.74 (SD= 0.10) to a mean of 3.81 (SD= 0.11). Hypothesis 2 is also
rejected.
Table 3
Overview of the influence of competition type on brand image.
Competition Type
Brand Image
M
SD
SE
n
Direct competition
Before
3.66
0.58
0.10
35
After
3.68
0.54
0.09
35
Before
3.74
0.57
0.10
36
After
3.81
0.67
0.11
36
Indirect competition
The most influential combination of advertisement type and competition type on
brand image
In order to determine the best combination of advertisement type and competition
type to influence brand image, a two-way ANOVA is performed. Levene’s test
suggests that the variance in brand is roughly equal among the four conditions, F
(0.87, p ns.). According to the analysis, there are no significant main effects of
advertisement type on brand image, F (1, 153)= 0.36, p ns., or competition type on
brand image, F (1, 153)= 1.30, p ns. Also, no interaction effect occurred. However,
against all expectations, from Table 4 it can be derived that the combination of
displaying own qualities and focusing on indirect competition leads to the highest
score on brand image (M= 3.86, SD= 0.54).
Table 4
Overview of the influence of the four conditions on brand image.
Variable
Advertisement Type
Competition Type
M
SD
n
21
Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
Brand Image
Displaying own qualities
Direct competition
3.76
0.74
43
Displaying own qualities
Indirect competition
3.86
0.63
43
Mocking competitors
Direct competition
3.68
0.54
35
Mocking competitors
Indirect competition
3.81
0.67
36
The moderating role of brand engagement on brand image
A multiple regression analysis is performed in order to determine the influence of the
predictor variable brand engagement. This regression analysis showed that
advertisement type and brand engagement can predict for a small amount how much
brand image is influenced (R2= 0.34), F (2, 154)= 9.73, p< 0.001. Advertisement type
does not have a significant effect on brand image, b= 0.31, t= 4.37, p ns. However,
advertisement type does have a significant effect, when controlling for brand
engagement, b= 0.31, t= 4.37, p< 0.001, 95% CI [0.17; 0.45]. Thus, displaying the
brand’s own qualities has a more positive influence on brand image than mocking
competitors, when brand engagement is high. Hypothesis 3 is accepted. An overview
of the analysis is provided in Table 5.
Table 5
Overview of regression analysis.
β
b
SE B
p
Constant
2.65
0.32
Advertisement Type
0.09
0.10
0.07
p= 0.340
Brand Engagement
0.31
0.09
0.33
p< 0.001
p< 0.001
Note: R2= 0.34
The moderating role of motivation for information processing on brand image
To assess the moderating role of motivation for information processing an
independent factorial ANOVA is performed. Levene’s test indicates that the variance
in brand image is roughly equal across the various combinations of advertisement
type and motivation for information processing. The results of the analysis display
22
Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
that there is no significant main effect of advertisement type on brand image, F
(1,153)= 0.05, p ns., and also no significant main effect of motivation for information
processing on brand image, F (1,153)= 0.309, p ns.
An evaluation of the interaction effect also pointed out that there was no
significant effect, F (1,153)= 0.02, p ns. Motivation for information processing does
not have a moderating influence on the relationship between advertisement type and
brand image. Hypothesis 4 is, therefore, rejected.
Table 6
Overview of the independent factorial ANOVA.
Variable
Advertisement Type
Motivation for
M
SD
n
information processing
Brand Image
Displaying own qualities
Central
3.70
0.78
32
Displaying own qualities
Peripheral
3.88
0.62
54
Mocking competitors
Central
3.60
0.55
22
Mocking competitors
Peripheral
3.81
0.65
49
Conclusion & Discussion
In this final chapter the research question will be answered and a critical reflection of
this experiment will be provided, together with implications and suggestions for
future research.
Conclusion
With the results of the experiment, the research question of this thesis can be
answered.
“How does the type of advertisement and the type of competition
influence brand image?
23
Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
Both strategies, displaying own qualities and mocking competitor, have a positive
influence on brand image. In line with previous research about mocking (Lou &
Wang, 2013; Sabri & Michel, 2014), it was expected that the influence of mocking
the competitors would be greater than the influence of displaying own qualities.
However, the results indicate otherwise, namely that displaying a brand’s own
qualities has the greatest influence on brand image. The use of humor in an
advertisement that is ridiculing others (Zhang & Zinkhan, 2006) is not more
successful than traditional advertising.
In the experiment the influence of competition is also determined. The results
show that both direct competition and indirect competition have a positive influence
on brand image. The expectation was that mocking direct competitors would have a
greater impact on brand image, in line with the theory of Lou and Wang (2013) that
mocking competitors is especially important for direct competitors, as their aim is to
damage the brand image of competitors. In spite of the theory, this expectation turned
out to be untrue. From the results it can be derived that mocking indirect competitors
has a greater influence on brand image than mocking direct competitors.
In compliance with the expectation, the results reveal that brand engagement
indeed has a moderating effect on the relationship between advertisement type and
brand image. Hollebeek and Chen (2014) already confirmed the importance of brand
engagement for customer loyalty, competitive advantages and profitability with their
research. This research further elaborated on the importance of brand engagement for
brand image. Displaying the brand’s own qualities has a more positive influence on
brand image than mocking competitors, when brand engagement is high. This finding
is in line with the statement of Hoeffler and Keller (2002), that creating brand
24
Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
meaning in the minds of consumers, by heightening awareness and strengthening
associations, can lead to an enhanced brand image.
According to the Elaboration Likelihood Model (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986), the
central route of cognitive processing is the most effective route for persuasive
communication, because it draws upon prior experience and knowledge to process the
information given in a message, such as an advertisement or a commercial.
Additionally, it was expected that the higher the motivation for information
processing (thus processing via the central route), the greater the influence on the
brand image of company. Against the expectation and opposite to the ELM theory,
the results expose that motivation for information processing did not have a
moderating influence on the relationship between advertisement type and information
processing.
To answer the research question of this thesis it was important to determine
the best combination of advertisement type and competition type on brand image. It is
best to display a brand’s own qualities in advertisements and not to focus on
competition. However, when a mocking strategy is adopted, it is better to focus on
indirect competition than on direct competition.
The implication derived from this research is that companies should not
pursue a mocking strategy, but should instead focus on displaying the qualities of
their own products and services. This strategy will have the most positive effect on
the brand image of the company.
Discussion
In this study an experiment was performed to determine the influence of
advertisement type and competition type on brand image. The experiment made use
of two well-known brands, Samsung and Ikea. When making use of a well-known
25
Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
brand, the danger exists that the participant is biased against that brand, which can
have an indirect effect on the results of the experiment. It might have been better to
use a fictional brand, but then the problem would be that the brand image before the
stimuli would be difficult to measure, as storytelling had to be used to explain the
brand, the advertisement, the competitor being mocked and the type of strategy. When
everything is spelled out, the participant does not have to think for him or herself
anymore. Therefore, existing brands were used. Despite the fact that participants
might be biased, they could easily determine the type of advertisement, the type of
competition and the brand being mocked, as was evident in the pretest.
To develop a ‘true’ experiment the same commercial should be used for both
the mocking condition as the traditional advertising condition, with some alterations.
This was not possible for this experiment, because existing advertisement were used,
which could not be altered. A pointer for future research is to neutralize the
differences between the commercials as much as possible by creating own
commercials with minimal differences, or to work with a multitude of commercials to
differ only on some aspects. Another option is to replace the between-subjects design
with a mixed-design. If participants watch two or three advertisements from different
conditions, contextual effects (such as size of the advertisement and the fact that the
advertisement may be part of a campaign) are then are also accounted for.
Another aspect of the stimuli used in this experiment that could be improved
in further research, is humor. Zhang and Zinkhan (2006) claim the funnier and the
more relevant the humor in an advertisement, the more likely it is to cause an
attitudinal change in the consumer in the direction aspired by the advertiser. In this
experiment, three out of four conditions make use of humor in their commercial. The
first condition (Samsung- displaying own qualities/ direct competitors) is the only
26
Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
commercial that does not include humor. It is a serious commercial, with beautiful
visuals to present a new product. This is in contrast to the commercial of Ikea, in
which they display their own qualities, while incorporating a very large amount of
humor and self-mockery. The other conditions, in which competitors are being
mocked, both also contain a large amount of humor. As humor is claimed to have an
effect on brand image, it probably would have been better to use four humorous
advertisements or no humorous advertisements, instead of the three humorous
advertisements and one serious advertisement used in the current experiment,
resulting in the fact that humor is not controlled as a factor. It is recommended to take
this into account for further research.
Among the participants, there is an uneven distribution of gender, age and
educational level. Due to the time restrictions for this thesis, the sampling methods
used were convenience sampling and snowball sampling. Most participants were
female and the majority of the participants enjoyed higher education, which is not a
correct reflection of the actual educational level of the (Dutch) population and,
therefore, the results of this experiment cannot be generalized. In future research,
other (aselect) sampling methods should be taken into consideration.
Hollebeek and Chen (2014) indicated in their research that brand engagement
can either be positively valenced or negatively valenced. In this study negatively
valenced engagement is excluded as only positive brand engagement could lead to a
positive brand image. Brand engagement turned out to have a moderating effect on
the relationship between advertisement type and brand image. Hence, in future
research both negatively valenced and positively valenced brand engagement should
be included in the experiment to give a more realistic view.
27
Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
Additionally, in this experiment general brand engagement was measured as a
characteristic of the participants. In future research it might be better to measure the
brand engagement to each individual brand used in the experiment. This way loyalty
and true brand engagement are measured to the brand itself instead of measuring
brand engagement as a trait of the participant.
Motivation for information processing is an important part of the Elaboration
Likelihood Model. As this model is very complex and has many exceptions, it was
very difficult to develop a method to measure this concept. In this thesis, participants
were either motivated to process the information via the central route OR the
peripheral route, when in real life the exception exists that participants can process
information via both routes. As only part of the model was incorporated in this thesis,
it is recommended to incorporate a bigger part of the model (if not the entire model)
in future research to make sure that every step of the model is justified and that
exceptions are also possible.
In this experiment only the influence of the different strategy on the brand
image of the advertising company was researched. It might be interesting for future
research to focus on the brand that is being attacked. How is their brand image
affected by mocking commercials created by their competitors? Does it change the
perception of their customers in a negative way? And what is the right strategy to
counterattack these types of commercials?
The main message for companies, derived from the results of the experiment,
is that companies should not focus on mocking their competition, but instead should
focus on displaying the qualities of their own products and services in advertisements.
However, when companies do decide to adopt a mocking strategy, it is best to focus
28
Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
on indirect competition than on direct competitors, as this has a greater impact on
their brand image.
29
Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
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Interbrand. (2014). Rankings 2014 Best Global Brands. Retrieved from
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Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
Appendix 1 Competitors mocking Apple
Figure 4
LG and Samsung, direct competitors, mocking Apple.
Figure 5
Heineken and Delta Light, indirect competitors, mocking Apple.
33
Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
Appendix 2
Demographic characteristics
Table 7
Profile of consumer’s personal and demographic characteristics.
Socio-demographic variables
Frequency
Gender
(n= 157)
%
Male
52
33.1%
Female
105
66.9%
(n= 157)
Age group
<15
4
2.5%
16-25
88
56.1%
26-35
32
20.3%
36-45
19
12.1%
46-55
11
7.1 %
>56
3
1.9%
(n= 157)
Educational level
Primary school
0
0%
VMBO
8
5.1%
HAVO
9
5.7%
VWO
1
0.6%
MBO
45
28.7%
HBO
21
13.4%
WO
73
46.5%
34
Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
Appendix 3
Stimuli: Advertisements
Figure 7
Condition 1: Samsung- displaying own qualities/ direct competitor.
Figure 8
Condition 2: Samsung- mocking competitors/ direct competitor.
35
Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
Figure 9
Condition 3: Ikea- displaying own qualities/ indirect competitor.
Figure 10
Condition 4: Ikea- mocking competitors/ indirect competitor.
36
Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
Appendix 4
Experiment
Introduction
Dear Participant,
Welcome to this experiment! You are participating in a study about brand image and
brand competition for my master thesis at the University of Amsterdam.
The experiment will take about 10 minutes of your time and your answers will be
processed anonymously.
You will be asked to watch a short video clip and to answer questions about this clip
and propositions afterwards. Remember that there are NO wrong answers, it is your
opinion that matters.
Thank you in advance for participating! If you have any questions, feel free to contact
me via [email protected]
Kind regards,
Rohini Vanita Bhaggoe
Ο I understand the text and I agree to participate.
Demographics
What is your gender?
 Male
 Female
What is your age (in numbers)?
What is the highest degree or level of school you have completed or are currently
enrolled in?
37
Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
 Primary school
 VMBO
 HAVO
 VWO
 MBO
 HBO
 WO (University)
Brand Image (before)
I completely
disagree
I disagree
Neutral
I agree
I completely
agree
BRAND evokes a good feeling
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
BRAND stands out among
competitors
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
BRAND develops high quality
products and services
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
I admire BRAND
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
Note: BRAND can be either Samsung or Ikea, participant is randomly assigned
Stimuli: Advertisement
38
Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
Note: the participant are randomly assigned to either Samsung or Ikea in the previous question, they
are then randomly assigned to one of the two conditions of that particular brand.
Manipulation check
Which brand was being mocked in this advertisement?
Note: only participants in condition 2 or 4 received this question.
Awareness
Were you already familiar with the advertising brand in the video clip?
 Yes
 No
How often do you purchase goods from this brand?
 Weekly
39
Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
 Monthly
 Yearly
 Very Seldom
 Never
Brand Image (after)
I completely
disagree
I disagree
Neutral
I agree
I completely
agree
BRAND evokes a good feeling
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
BRAND stands out among
competitors
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
BRAND develops high quality
products and services
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
I admire BRAND
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
Note: BRAND is the same as in Brand Image (before).
Brand engagement
I completely
disagree
I disagree
Neutral
I agree
I completely
agree
I feel as if I have a close personal
connection with the brands I prefer
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
I consider my favorite brands to be
part of myself
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
I like to talk to others about my
favorite brands
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
I like to recommend my favorite
brands to others
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
Motivation for information processing
40
Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
I completely
disagree
I disagree
Neutral
I agree
I completely
agree
The advertisement is relevant to me
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
The advertisement made me think
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
The information given in the
advertisement is useful to me
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
I liked the visuals in the
advertisement
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
I felt strong emotions while watching
the advertisement
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
The advertisement was funny
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
Ο
End
You have reached the end of the experiment. Thank you for participating!
If you are interested in the results of this research, you can e-mail me at
[email protected]
Click on continue to save your answers, then you can close this window.
41
Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
Appendix 5
Variables and Propositions
Table 8
Overview of the propositions for every variable.
Variable
Propositions
Brand Image
1. BRAND evokes a good feeling
2. BRAND stands out among competitors
3. BRAND develops high quality products and services
4. I admire BRAND
Brand Engagement
1. I feel as if I have a close connection with the brands I prefer
2. I consider my favorite brands to be part of myself
3. I like to talk to others about my favorite brands
4. I like to recommend my favorite brands to others
Motivation for Information
1. The advertisement is relevant to me
Processing
2. The advertisement made me think
3. The information given in the advertisement s useful to me
4. I liked the visuals in the advertisement
5. I felt strong emotions while watching the advertisement
6. The advertisement was funny
Note: BRAND is either Samsung or Ikea.
42
Mocking competitors: good for brand image?
Appendix 6
Correlation analyses
Table 9
Pearson correlations of control variable age and dependent variables brand image and
brand engagement.
Age
Brand Image
Brand Engagement
0.17
0.73
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
Table 10
Spearman correlations of control variables gender, age and level of education and
dependent variable motivation for information processing.
Motivation for information
processing
Gender
0.70
Age
0.50
Level of Education
0.83
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
Table 11
Spearman correlations of control variable gender and dependent variables brand image
and brand engagement.
Gender
Brand Image
Brand Engagement
0.67
0.82
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
Table 12
Chi-square tests of control variable education and dependent variables brand image and
brand engagement.
Education
Brand Image
Brand Engagement
0.95
0.98
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
43