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The positive effects of integrated advertising, featuring diverse ensembles, on societal identification and mainstream brand value

  • Original Empirical Research
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Abstract

The present research employs the Assess Symptoms, Diagnose Causes, Identify and Test Interventions paradigm to measure, understand, and address a grand challenge facing prominent brands: weakness with minority consumers in increasingly diverse societies. First, an analysis of six-hundred thousand consumer-brand ratings reveals that the purchase intention advantage enjoyed by more prominent brands weakens among racial minorities. We posit that these symptoms of weakness are due to the erosion of ingroup identification that would advantage mainstream brands. A diagnostic survey of American consumers confirms the role of societal identification and points to symbolic marginalization from segregation in advertising as one contributor under brands’ influence. Minorities are less likely to report that advertising depicts diverse people together, which predicts lower societal identification and mainstream brand purchase intentions. Experiments confirm that advertising with minority representation and featuring (but lacking) diversification through multi-racial ensembles lessens (perpetuates) a sense of segregation, strengthens (undermines) societal identification, and strengthens (weakens) prominent brands’ value. Advertisements with representation and diversification can contribute to greater societal unification while protecting advantages afforded by social influence, an opportunity for brands to do good while doing well.

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Data Availability

Data from experiments can be made available upon request.

Notes

  1. The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 census reveals that growth in the U.S. population is "made up entirely of people who identified as Hispanic, Asian, Black and more than one race" (Tavernise and Gebeloff 2021).

  2. Purchasing power in the United States (U.S.) for Hispanic, Asian American, African American, and Native American consumers reached $4.9 trillion, an amount similar to the combined GDP of France and Italy.

  3. We thank our late friend and colleague Joshua T. Beck for helping us develop this paradigm to structure this research. Josh credits Eva Ascarza’s Measurement, Understanding, Intervention framework.

  4. Exceptions exist (e.g., support for underdog brands, see Paharia et al., 2011).

  5. Over 75% of brands were nationally distributed brands, as indicated by ratings from respondents within each of the nine Census Bureau regions of the United States, and 98% of brands had ratings from at least five of the nine Census Bureau regions.

  6. For consumers from zip codes that were only partially encompassed by the cities included in the American Community Survey (ACS), we assigned respondents to the ACS city if more than half of the population in that zip code fell within the city boundaries and otherwise omitted respondents.

  7. We use one-tail, directional p-values for tests of all hypothesized effects.

  8. We use one-tail, directional p-values for tests of all hypothesized effects.

  9. We use one-tail, directional p-values for tests of all hypothesized effects.

  10. A repeated measures model with within-participants contrasts comparing ratings of inclusiveness vs self-representation revealed an effect of condition x measure (F(2,759) = 13.62, p < .001) with similar inclusiveness and self-representation scores for ads with mono-racial ensembles of models but higher inclusiveness score than self-representation scores for ads with multi-racial ensembles of models (Minclusiveness = 4.19, SD = 1.26, Mself-repretation = 3.76, SD = 1.57, t(263) 11.62, p < .001).

  11. We also explored differences in perceptions of image quality. The mono-racial low representation images generated lower evaluations than the other images (ps < .001), with no other significant differences.

  12. After each ad, respondents in the ad conditions were asked to rate the perceived quality of the ad (“The visual elements of the ad (e.g., images, colors, lighting, etc.) were of high quality” 1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree), the perceived creativity of the ad (“This ad was very creative,”: 1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree), and the perceived realism of the ad (“This ad was realistic,” 1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree). All ads were rated significantly higher than mid-scale (M = 4.00, p < .05) and did not differ significantly between treatment and control group (ps > .18).

  13. We use one-tail, directional p-values for tests of all hypothesized effects.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank the UAE Ministry of Education through Zayed University’s Research Incentive Fund (grant number R19063) and the CY Initiative of Excellence (grant “Investissements d’Avenir” ANR-16-IDEX-0008) whose support is gratefully acknowledged. The authors would also like to thank Julian K. Saint Clair, Joshua T. Beck, and members of our marketing departments for helpful suggestions on presentations and previous drafts of this article.

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Appendices

Appendix 1

Table 4

Table 4 Measurement scales from Study 2

Fig. 5

Fig. 5
figure 5

Visual component of societal identification measure in Study 2 and Study 4

Appendix 2

Fig. 6

Fig. 6
figure 6

Example ads from the different ad sets in

Appendix 3

Fig. 7

Fig. 7
figure 7

Example ads from the two different ad sets in Study 4a. The images in the Microsoft ads were also used in Study i to create Facebook ads for “Saturn marketing research”

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Henderson, C.M., Mazodier, M. & Khenfer, J. The positive effects of integrated advertising, featuring diverse ensembles, on societal identification and mainstream brand value. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11747-023-00977-9

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