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How brand innovativeness creates advertising flexibility

Abstract

We advance a broadened conceptualization of advertising context effects by considering how consumer response is influenced by the competitive advertising context. This contextual variable reflects how typically or atypically advertising tactics are employed by brands in a product category. Study 1 demonstrates that employing an advertising tactic that is perceived by consumers as atypical in a category undermines its influence on brand attitudes. Study 2 shows that this persuasion penalty is circumvented by innovative brands through a phenomenon we refer to as advertising flexibility that enables innovative brands to successfully employ advertising tactics under a wider range of conditions than non-innovative brands. A final study provides process evidence for this effect by showing that brand attitudes are determined by advertising content for innovative brands but by considerations of the competitive advertising context for non-innovative brands.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    It is possible that the actions of prominent brands in a category may disproportionately impact perceptions of a tactic’s perceived typicality in a given category. Thus, an advertising tactic employed by a high-profile brand in a category may be particularly salient to consumers in their thinking about the competitive advertising context, disproportionately influencing their development of beliefs about the tactic’s typicality in the category.

  2. 2.

    For example, tactics that are generally viewed as offensive (e.g., those containing distasteful images or language) are likely to be viewed as inappropriate for marketers to use regardless of whether they are commonly or uncommonly used by competitors. Similarly, ads sponsored by brands that consumers view negatively may be seen as inappropriate regardless of whether the competitive advertising context suggests they are typically relied upon by other brands.

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Correspondence to Michael J. Barone.

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Both authors contributed equally to the development of this paper.

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Barone, M.J., Jewell, R.D. How brand innovativeness creates advertising flexibility. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. 42, 309–321 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11747-013-0352-7

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Keywords

  • Advertising flexibility
  • Brand innovativeness
  • Advertising context
  • Advertising content