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When Companies Don t Make the Ad: A Multi- Method Inquiry into the Differential Effectiveness of Consumer-Generated Advertising

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Cornell University School of Hotel Administration The Scholarly Commons Articles and Chapters School of Hotel Administration Collection When Companies Don t Make the Ad: A Multi- Method Inquiry
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Cornell University School of Hotel Administration The Scholarly Commons Articles and Chapters School of Hotel Administration Collection When Companies Don t Make the Ad: A Multi- Method Inquiry into the Differential Effectiveness of Consumer-Generated Advertising Benjamin Lawrence Cornell University, Susan Fournier Boston University Frédéric Brunel Boston University Follow this and additional works at: Part of the Advertising and Promotion Management Commons, and the Marketing Commons Recommended Citation Lawrence, B., Fournier, S., & Brunel, F. (2013). When companies don t make the ad: A multi-method inquiry into the differential effectiveness of consumer-generated advertising [Electronic version]. Retrieved [insert date], from Cornell University, School of Hospitality Administration site: This Article or Chapter is brought to you for free and open access by the School of Hotel Administration Collection at The Scholarly Commons. It has been accepted for inclusion in Articles and Chapters by an authorized administrator of The Scholarly Commons. For more information, please contact When Companies Don t Make the Ad: A Multi-Method Inquiry into the Differential Effectiveness of Consumer-Generated Advertising Abstract This four-part multi-method investigation into the under-researched yet increasingly prevalent phenomenon of consumer-generated advertising (CGA) confirms a performance advantage over traditional advertising and suggests a rationale for this differential. CGAs benefit from heightened consumer engagement and increased trustworthiness. CGAs also garner perceived quality advantages that are linked to consumers lowering their expectations and using different evaluation criteria to judge the ad. The ad creator a personalized, identifiable and relatable entity in the case of CGAs plays a central role in anchoring and shaping ad reactions. The consumer-made characteristic the fact that CGAs are not made by companies but by independent people is powerful and stands strong in the face of commercial motives, and presents paradigmatic implications for advertising practice and research. Keywords consumer-generated advertising, CGA, customer relationship, traditional advertising, impact studies Disciplines Advertising and Promotion Management Marketing Comments Required Publisher Statement Taylor & Francis. Final version published as: Lawrence, B., Fournier, S., & Brunel, F. (2013). When companies don t make the ad: A multi-method inquiry into the differential effectiveness of consumergenerated advertising. Journal of Advertising, 42(4), Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. This article or chapter is available at The Scholarly Commons: WHEN COMPANIES DON T MAKE THE AD: A MULTI-METHOD INQUIRY INTO THE DIFFERENTIAL EFFECTIVENESS OF CONSUMER-GENERATED ADVERTISING Benjamin Lawrence (Ph.D. Boston University) Assistant Professor Cornell University School of Hotel Administration 246 Statler Hall Ithaca, NY (phone) (fax) Susan Fournier (Ph.D. University of Florida) Professor Boston University School of Management 595 Commonwealth Ave Boston, MA (phone) (fax) Frédéric Brunel (Ph.D. University of Washington) Associate Professor Boston University School of Management 595 Commonwealth Ave Boston, MA (phone) (fax) February 7, 2013 Forthcoming Journal of Advertising All correspondence should be addressed to Benjamin Lawrence WHEN COMPANIES DON T MAKE THE AD: A MULTI-METHOD INQUIRY INTO THE DIFFERENTIAL EFFECTIVENESS OF CONSUMER-GENERATED ADVERTISING ABSTRACT This four-part multi-method investigation into the under-researched yet increasingly prevalent phenomenon of consumer-generated advertising (CGA) confirms a performance advantage over traditional advertising and suggests a rationale for this differential. CGAs benefit from heightened consumer engagement and increased trustworthiness. CGAs also garner perceived quality advantages that are linked to consumers lowering their expectations and using different evaluation criteria to judge the ad. The ad creator a personalized, identifiable and relatable entity in the case of CGAs plays a central role in anchoring and shaping ad reactions. The consumer-made characteristic the fact that CGAs are not made by companies but by independent people is powerful and stands strong in the face of commercial motives, and presents paradigmatic implications for advertising practice and research. 1 One of the marketing consequences of recent technological innovation is consumergenerated advertising (CGA): consumer-created brand communications with the look, feel, form and intent of traditional advertising (Ertimur and Gilly 2011). Though marketers have, for decades, solicited consumer feedback in the process of creating ads (e.g., communication ideas, slogan contests, testimonials), the CGA phenomenon is unique in that access to multimedia software, the internet, and social media platforms now allow consumers to create, produce and disseminate ads. Marketers have increasingly used or co-opted CGAs as campaign elements since the practice was first noted (Ives 2004). For example, in 2007, Frito-Lay, General Motors, and the NFL placed solicited CGAs in the Super Bowl, the most expensive and broadestreaching marketing medium available (Lippert 2010). While Frito-Lay returned to the Super Bowl for the sixth time with a CGA campaign in 2012, a broad range of companies committed to mainstream brand-building have now added CGA to their communications mix: Nike, Unilever, Heinz, Microsoft, Google, General Mills, NBC, Converse, Mini Cooper, Folgers, Yum Brands, Amazon, and Procter & Gamble, to name a few. By these accounts, the practice of leveraging consumer-created brand messaging has come of age. Supporters frame CGA as a game-changing solution to pressing marketing problems: CGAs cut through the clutter with resonant and authentic messaging at lower costs (Creamer 2007; Mills 2006). Performance results have been encouraging. CGAs for the flagship Doritos brand won awards for the sixth time in 2012 (fritolay.com). According to Ann Mukherjee, Group VP Marketing, Doritos CGA campaigns have been the most successful marketing initiatives in the brand s history, garnering improved performance on metrics including pass-along value, online currency, media value, and brand equity (Burstein 2012). Over the past four years, CGAs have consistently drawn the most positive ratings in the Super Bowl Ad Review 2 (http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/news/superbowl), ranked in the number one spot in USA Today s Ad Meter rankings (Petrecca 2012), generated the most Tweets and positive sentiments in the Mullen Brand Bowl (brandbowl2012.com), and supported the most buzzed about brands according to Nielsen BuzzMetrics (Elliott 2010). The success of CGAs in media environments where they are consistently the most watched, the most memorable, and the most-often-talkedabout ads hints at the potential psycho-social advantages of this communications form. CGAs have emerged as a valuable component in the marketing communications arsenal in light of a popular belief that they perform strongly versus traditional ads. An equally-persuasive case against CGAs can also be leveraged (Deighton and Kornfeld 2009). High profile mishaps including the so-called failed Chevy Tahoe experiment (Neisser 2006) and numerous parody-heavy CGA campaigns such as those for Dove and United Airlines (Deighton 2008; Deighton and Kornfeld 2010) cause many to debate the wisdom of consumercreated messages that open the brand to disaster (Neisser 2006) and subversive attacks (Berthon, Pitt, and Campbell 2008). Critics argue that as the practice matures, the creator s status as a nonprofessional, everyday consumer becomes clouded by motives for professional advancement or profit, weakening CGA authenticity in kind (Ertimur and Gilly 2011; Moscowitz 2006). Increased company involvement in CGA sourcing further strains its credibility advantages (Thomaselli 2010). Ironically, the ubiquitous technologies that have supported the rise of CGAs also threaten the phenomenon by enabling an ever-increasing number of potentially undistinguished, forgettable and bad ads (Moscowitz 2006; Thomaselli 2010). Although marketers might be anxious to put consumers to work creating ads, the reality of mixed anecdotes and scant empirical evidence make this a risky stance. We know who is making CGAs, why they are making them, and what types of CGAs they are making (Berthon, 3 Pitt, and Campbell 2008; Daugherty, Eastin, and Bright 2008; van Dijck 2009; Ertimur and Gilly 2011), but very little is known about the effectiveness of CGAs or the drivers of such effects. Although advertising rankings such as the USA Today s Ad Meter support the contention that CGAs are more effective than traditional company ads, empirical evidence is inconclusive. Some suggest increased performance because of enhanced trustworthiness (Muniz and Schau 2007) and authenticity (Ertimur and Gilly 2011). Steyn and colleagues (Steyn, Wallström, and Pitt 2010; Steyn et al. 2011) find no differences in ad likability or viewer response profiles (i.e., empathy, familiarity, entertainment, confusion, relevant news, brand reinforcement, alienation) for CGAs versus company ads. Others suggest that CGAs are actually less credible and are evaluated more critically (Ertimur and Gilly 2011; Thompson and Malaviya 2011). The exclusive use of qualitative methodologies and/or study designs that restrict the range of criterion and process variables explain some of these conflicting results. In this research, we leverage an exploratory qualitative analysis, two experiments, and a follow-up survey to develop a comprehensive inquiry that addresses two fundamental yet unsettled questions regarding this popular advertising phenomenon: do CGAs have communications advantages over traditional company-sourced ads and why? RESEARCH OVERVIEW We designed a multi-method, multi-study research program to investigate whether and how CGAs might work to persuade. Consistent with an adapted etic approach (Micu, Coulter, and Price 2009), we first leverage qualitative data to better understand the CGA phenomenon and generate hypotheses for testing. In line with published research involving consumer-created content, we utilize YouTube as a data source (Campbell et al. 2011; Keelan et al. 2007). We follow the purposive logic of qualitative research that focuses on archetypal or extreme stimuli 4 for the privileged insights these allow (Patton 2001) and analyze posted comments for eight successful and high-profile CGAs. We uncover four themes that may drive enhanced CGA effectiveness: trustworthiness, identification with the ad creator, judgments of executional quality, and viewer engagement. Based on these themes, relevant literatures are leveraged to develop five hypotheses concerning differential CGA effects. In the spirit of Olson and Thjømøe (2011), two experiments and a survey follow our exploratory study and test the inducted hypotheses. The first experiment informs the roles of source factors and engagement in driving CGA responses while also offering evidence of the overall effectiveness of CGAs versus company ads. A second experiment manipulates ad quality to investigate its role in driving CGA effectiveness and replicates tests of a CGA performance differential. A follow-up survey probes the role of evaluation standards and judgment criteria as mechanisms behind perceived quality effects. Across a set of accepted measures of ad persuasion, these studies establish that there is a performance advantage for CGAs and suggests a rationale for this differential. We find that it is the fact that CGAs are made by people, not companies, that drives responses to this class of ads. STUDY 1: IDENTIFICATION OF FACTORS DRIVING CGA RESPONSE The purpose of the qualitative exploration was to identify themes implicated in the viewing experience for successful CGAs so as to formulate hypotheses regarding factors driving their potential effectiveness. We studied one month of YouTube conversations concerning eight CGAs noted in the press as successful campaigns. The ads span product categories (cars, personal care, snack food), involvement levels (high versus low), and advertising strategies (informational, humor, and image). The ads were all contest-generated CGAs that aired in high- 5 visibility television environments. The ads were clearly identified in the postings as contestgenerated and consumer-created; creator bios or storylines were linked to each ad. Five ads were included from perhaps the most well-known of CGA campaigns: a competition for Unilever s Dove Cream Oil, the winner of which was aired during the 2008 Academy Awards (Deighton 2008). We analyzed the winning ad in the competition (Knowing You re Beautiful with 217 posts), two finalists (Fly Like a Dove and Live in Color with 53 and 57 posts, respectively), the most popular submission per YouTube viewer ratings (Feeling Divine, 51 posts), and the submission downloaded most often (Wash Away the Lines, 63 posts). Viewer comments for three additional competition-generated CGAs that aired during the 2008 Super Bowl were analyzed: two winning ads from the Doritos: Crash the Superbowl competition (Live the Flavor and Check Out Girl, with 92 and 140 posts) and the award-winning ad from the Chevy Superbowl College Ad Challenge for the Chevy HHR brand (Carwash, 56 posts). Our dataset included 729 unique postings across the eight ads. Thematic coding was conducted independently by four judges and discussed jointly among team members; four major themes were uncovered. Below, we share data illuminating each theme. After each exposition, we review relevant selected literature to support hypotheses claiming differential advantages for CGAs versus traditional company ads. The Role of Trustworthiness in CGA Reception Comments support that CGAs are distinguished in part by the people who serve as their creators, and commentary indicates the operation of the inherent trustworthiness of ads from this source. Of particular note is the perceived authenticity of both the creator and his/her ads. Postings indicate an appreciation of real people, not companies, making real, honest ads. This commercial was made by REAL people reaching out to OTHER real people about very common concerns. it can catch the attention of all consumers. Dove 6 I loved your video. I don't know if you've had lessons or not. (I bet you haven't, you seem like a natural.) I hope your video wins. Dove Authentic CGAs were considered more credible, honest, and wholesome than ads from a slick multinational industry that manipulates consumers and shills brands. The honesty truly shows and sells in this commercial honesty sells in an overwhelmingly superficial society. Dove Thank you for the honest, direct idea. I love it and so will the rest of America. Dove I liked this ad because it didn't go for the false sincerity and phony, glam-crazed, Hollywood image of perfection attitude.-- Dove Extensive social psychological research supports a central role for trustworthiness in driving persuasion and communication effectiveness (Wilson and Sherrell 1993; Hovland and Weiss 1951), and a strong argument can be made for expected CGA advantages versus traditional ads on this front. Messages created by trustworthy sources encourage source and message bolstering (Yalch and Elmore-Yalch 1984) while material created by less trusted sources induces counter argument and source derogation (Wiener, LaForge, and Goolsby 1990). Bickart and Shindler (2001) invoke source credibility to explain why consumer-generated communications are more effective than company-sourced information in engendering interest. Such messages are independent from the marketer and are perceived as having been created by individuals with no vested self-interest, ulterior motives or intentions to manipulate (Beverland and Farrelly 2010; Verlegh et al. 2004). Information posted by consumers on discussion boards follows this logic and engenders more trust than manufacturer-provided information (Cheong and Morrison 2008). Building from our findings and this literature, we therefore propose: H 1a : CGAs and their creators are viewed as more trustworthy than company ads. 7 The data also reveal that CGAs whose creators fail tests of credibility or authenticity are lamented and openly criticized. Many counterarguments were registered concerning ads produced by professionals with industry training and an obvious leg up in the equipment and skills needed for high quality production. Wariness concerning people who contribute ads just to get clients was expressed. Comments reflect general disdain regarding professional or company involvement in a contest that was supposed to be about the people, pure. Corporate stuff, produced by proffesionals for a supposed contest... Cute, but come on, have a real contest! - Doritos I checked this out, this spot was produced and entered by professional film makers that worked on Hollywood films like Terminator, etc... check out their website. for a supposed Consumer Generated Content Contest? corporation generated..more like it? What s up with this, should be called PRO-sumer Generated Video Doritos A friend of mine who lives in CA sent me a link to GoddessLams Myspace page and she owns a production co...this is WHY this is such a great video...much easier to do with high quality cameras and editing equipment...totally against the rules!!! - Dove Indeed, though creators motivations play a vital role in establishing credibility, authenticity and trustworthiness (Eagly, Wood, and Chaiken 1978), not all CGAs are equal on this front (Daugherty, Eastin, and Bright 2008). Some CGAs are created by consumers motivated by love of the brand or enjoyment of the craft while others are created for purposes of selfpromotion and the desire to profit economically or professionally (Berthon, Pitt, and Campbell 2008). Competition-inspired CGAs can exacerbate this issue by violating the assumption that CGAs are distanced from corporate contamination and adding semi-professionals into the creator mix. For these reasons CGAs motivated by self-gain are generally viewed as less authentic and more contrived (Thomaselli 2010). Supporting this, Ertimur and Gilly (2011) found that competition CGAs are viewed as less authentic than their organic counterparts. Our qualitative 8 data supports that perceptions of economic motives damage the perceived trustworthiness of the ad and its creator. Thus, we propose the following qualifying effect: H 1b : CGAs whose creation is driven by economic motives are less trusted than those whose creation is driven by non-economic motives. Source Identification as a Driver of CGA Reception The data suggest that having consumers in the role of ad creator also provides a basis for personal connections that can contribute to favorable CGA reception. Some viewers compared themselves to the ad creators or made connections with them along different lines. I have always wanted to learn how to skydive and this is so inspiring. This woman is a bit older like me. I guess it is never too late to start - Dove Im so glad this can happen to you A regular person like me Just goes to show dreams are possible Now my dream of possibly starring in a commercial is just that much more imaginable Dove Social influence research supports that people are more likely to be persuaded by those who are judged to be more similar to them in values or other characteristics (Hilmert, Kulik, and Christenfeld 2006; Wilson and Sherrell 1993). For example, Brock (1965) and Busch and Wilson (1976) found that salespeople sold more products when customers perceived the salesperson as having similar qualities and interests. Perceived similarity engenders a greater level of interpersonal attraction, understanding, and trust (McPherson, Smith-Lovin, and Cook 2001). CGA is unique in that the so

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Jul 23, 2017
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