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Branded food spokescharacters: consumers' contributions to the narrative of commerce

Branded food spokescharacters: consumers' contributions to the narrative of commerce Purpose – The purpose of this research is to examine the nature of consumers' relationships with branded spokescharacters by drawing upon brand personality theory and reader‐response theory, focusing specifically on food trade characters. We aim to show that the persuasive power of these characters resides not only in their appearance, but also in the complex narratives consumers project (sometimes unwittingly) onto the spokescharacter. Design/methodology/approach – The paper reports the results of a survey – blending quantitative and qualitative methodologies – designed to document consumer perceptions, affective responses and spontaneous associations to different characters (i.e. Aunt Jemima, Robin Hood, Betty Crocker, Uncle Ben, Poppin' Fresh the Pillsbury's Doughboy, and M. Felix and Mr Norton, characters created by a Montreal‐based cookie company). Findings – The results revealed that consumers associate spokescharacters with distinct personality profiles. Also, a connection was found between spokescharacters and narrative: a relationship where the characters become part of a larger narrative paradigm and more importantly, a relationship where the consumer is cast in a specific role vis‐à‐vis the spokescharacter. Practical implications – These results should invite brand managers to stay current with the variety of associations that consumers form and how these associations influence the perception of their brand's personality. The results further underscore the need to understand the role into which consumers are cast vis‐à‐vis a branded character. Future research should examine cross cultural differences in the perception and narratives of branded characters, especially since many multinational companies use branded characters across cultural divides. Originality/value – The paper shows how consumers play an active role in rendering a spokescharacter likeable, credible, and even memorable and documents the narratives that engage consumers and are both constructed collaboratively with them and propagated by them. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Product & Brand Management Emerald Publishing

Branded food spokescharacters: consumers' contributions to the narrative of commerce

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1061-0421
DOI
10.1108/10610420810875061
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this research is to examine the nature of consumers' relationships with branded spokescharacters by drawing upon brand personality theory and reader‐response theory, focusing specifically on food trade characters. We aim to show that the persuasive power of these characters resides not only in their appearance, but also in the complex narratives consumers project (sometimes unwittingly) onto the spokescharacter. Design/methodology/approach – The paper reports the results of a survey – blending quantitative and qualitative methodologies – designed to document consumer perceptions, affective responses and spontaneous associations to different characters (i.e. Aunt Jemima, Robin Hood, Betty Crocker, Uncle Ben, Poppin' Fresh the Pillsbury's Doughboy, and M. Felix and Mr Norton, characters created by a Montreal‐based cookie company). Findings – The results revealed that consumers associate spokescharacters with distinct personality profiles. Also, a connection was found between spokescharacters and narrative: a relationship where the characters become part of a larger narrative paradigm and more importantly, a relationship where the consumer is cast in a specific role vis‐à‐vis the spokescharacter. Practical implications – These results should invite brand managers to stay current with the variety of associations that consumers form and how these associations influence the perception of their brand's personality. The results further underscore the need to understand the role into which consumers are cast vis‐à‐vis a branded character. Future research should examine cross cultural differences in the perception and narratives of branded characters, especially since many multinational companies use branded characters across cultural divides. Originality/value – The paper shows how consumers play an active role in rendering a spokescharacter likeable, credible, and even memorable and documents the narratives that engage consumers and are both constructed collaboratively with them and propagated by them.

Journal

Journal of Product & Brand ManagementEmerald Publishing

Published: May 30, 2008

Keywords: Brands; Food products; Marketing communications

References