The impact of negative media coverage, brand-hate, or consumer boycotts on the employer brand (in the example of Amazon)

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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This thesis aims to examine the potential impact of brand hate and negative media coverage on a specific element of brand structure—the employer brand—using the example of Amazon. Despite facing numerous public media crises that have specifically targeted its brand, Amazon continues to be recognized as one of the most desirable employers, as evidenced by its consistent high rankings in global employer surveys. The study seeks to understand this paradox and analyze the factors that contribute to Amazon's enduring appeal as an employer despite negative media attention. To examine the subject of study, this thesis utilizes Schwartz's theory of basic values (2012), Empathy (Batson et al., 1981; Wondra & Ellsworth 2015), and Consumer responsibilization theories (Giesler & Veresiu, 2014) as theoretical underpinnings. Additionally, the analysis of the Employer Brand structure is approached using the Brand Equity framework proposed by Alshathry et al. (2017). First and foremost, this thesis reveals a fragmented structure within the Amazon Employer brand, demonstrating the existence of multiple employer brand images for the company. Consequently, the perception of the Amazon Employer brand significantly varies between white-collar and blue-collar employees. As a result, brand crises impacting one image may have minimal repercussions on the other, and vice versa. Moreover, this thesis proposes that personal well-being, financial success, and career growth remain primary drivers in the job search among young adults. Therefore, as long as the Employer Brand maintains its economically successful brand image, the influence of scandals and public outbreaks on it can be muted. However, this study acknowledges that continuous crises could negatively impact the employer's brand image, leading to an ambiguous perception and brand associations for Amazon. Overall, this thesis contributes to the field of employer branding studies by helping to understand the employer brand structure and proposing an updated framework for treating the employer brand in managerial studies. The findings indicate that when it comes to scandals and public crises, the influence of the Employer Brand on the Corporate Brand and Consumer Brand may be considerably less compared to the influence of the latter two in their trilateral relationship.
Thesis advisor
Bhatnagar, Kushagra
employer brand, employer brand image, employer brand associations, ethical decision-making, career values, career motivations, consumer responsibilization
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