The purpose of this paper is to analyses consumers’ hostile responses and “creative” re-interpretation of a proactive corporate social responsibility (CSR) brand communication campaign on social media by a leading Italian company in the energy industry that came to be perceived as a reactive corporate social irresponsibility performance.Design/methodology/approachTaking Palazzo and Basu’s framework of scapes (2007) as a starting point, the paper explores the intersection between branding and CSR studies. After consideration of the lack of empirical studies on this subject, a content analysis of tweets generated from the campaign “Guerrieri” of Enel is performed.FindingsFindings show the dialogic bottom-up approach results are ineffective because of the hijacking of original intent of the company in implementing its CSR communication initiatives. That is to say that corporate brand (CB) strategies can be easily re-interpreted in social media-scape from an opposing perspective, raising the risk of digital hijacking and boycotting initiatives.Practical implicationsFrom a practical standpoint, the study informs managers so that they can evaluate complex problems implicated in the creation of CSR activities aimed at engaging consumers and virtual communities. Besides, the paper would like to aid managers when they face discontent or activism, suggesting they should turn the attention of their stakeholders through a re-evaluation of relevant CSR activities, potentially leveraging on a loyal public, which has completely interiorised CB values and can act as brand ambassadors.Originality/valueThe paper is one of the first attempts to study the nexus between CSR and CB in digitally empowering contexts, clarifying the crucial role of social media-scape.
Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 22, 2021
Keywords: Value; Corporate social responsibility; Identity; Corporate branding; Corporate social irresponsibility; Social media-scape; Ethics; Consumption; Content analysis; Enel; Corporate brand
Read and print from thousands of top scholarly journals.
Already have an account? Log in
Bookmark this article. You can see your Bookmarks on your DeepDyve Library.