Configurational Explanation of Brand Activism Advertising Campaigns' Effects on Brand Attitude and Brand Value: A Fuzzy-set Analysis of Millennials

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
35 + 10
The purpose of this paper is to study brand activism advertising campaigns’ effects on brand attitude and brand value from the perspective of millennials and generation Z that have been identified as the most promising target group of brand activism. Here brand activism is defined as brands taking a public stand on divisive and controversial socio-political issues that are current in the societal discussions. The study contributes to understanding of the phenomenon of brand activism by examining the combinations of conditions that lead to certain outcomes of these campaigns. This paper utilizes the data analysis method of fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) as it can be used to detect various combinations of conditions that lead to specific outcomes. The method is used to analyze both qualitative and quantitative data, interview data and brand value data from Interbrand, which gives confidence for the interpretations in the fsQCA method. The studied conditions linked to brand activism were chosen based on both academic and practical literature of marketing, and they include the following constructs: perceived brand authenticity, polarization, millennial target group, attitude toward the ad, and brand commercialization. The findings of the study indicate that perceived brand authenticity of brand activism advertising campaigns, even in smaller amounts, affects the outcomes of brand attitude and brand value positively. The perceived brand authenticity’s element of continuity turned out to be especially important for the positive outcomes. It refers to brands staying true to their values and being consistent over time. It was also found that brand commercialization does not necessarily eliminate the perceived brand authenticity of advertisements as often thought. Additionally, millennials and generation Z seem to like these kinds of campaigns even if they do not feel that the ad is specifically targeted at them. Further studies on the topic are needed to see how millennials and generation Z compare to other demographic cohorts.
Thesis advisor
Gloukhovtsev, Alexei
Brand activism, Millennials, Advertising, Brand attitude, Brand value, Perceived brand authenticity
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