How controversial advertisement affect brand equity

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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This thesis aims to shed light on the phenomenon of controversial advertising. The first goal is to provide a comprehensive understanding of the term and its development, and especially to identify the encoding elements that characterize controversial advertising. The second goals is to understand the effect of controversial advertisement and public responses it has cause to brand equity. The third goal is to identity the best way to adopt controversial advertisement and foster brand equity. Therefore, the research questions go as follow: 1)How has controversial advertising evolved over time and what kinds of encoding elements characterize controversial advertising? 2)What are the effects of controversial advertising campaigns and public responses on brand equity? 3)What is the best way to adopt controversial advertisements and foster brand equity? This study was conducted using content analysis where controversial advertisements were analyzed and coded. The coding included visual elements, textual messages, and public responses. Content analysis gives valuable insight on the phenomenon, especially since controversial advertising remains to be a relatively under-researched area. The effect on brand equity was measured using a modified Keller’s Customer-Based Brand Equity pyramid. The findings show that controversial advertisement affects all brand equity dimensions identified by Keller in his pyramid. The effect is stronger in some of the dimensions. Also, the finding suggests that brand identity and how it is reflected in the controversial advertising effect how public responses to the advertisement. Advertising discipline is constantly changing and the competition to draw consumer attention is increasing. Controversial advertising is a response to this and therefore it is crucial to understand the phenomenon and utilize it in a best way possible. Controversial advertising might increase sales and brand awareness but if executed badly it can damage brand equity.
Thesis advisor
Blakaj, Hedon
controversial advertising, advertising, brand equity, advertisements
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