NEW YORK: Viral "spoofs" that parody ads and spread on social media often damage consumer attitudes towards brands, but do not exert a significant impact on purchase intent, a new study suggests.

In the June 2014 issue of the Journal of Advertising Research, two French authors make this claim in their paper, "When Do Advertising Parodies Hurt? The Power of Humour and Credibility in Viral Spoof Advertisements."

Ouidade Sabri (Université Paris-Est, UPEC, IRG) and Géraldine Michel (Sorbonne Graduate Business School) begin with a common assumption about amateur videos that deliberately satirise ads.

"Parodies with strong claim credibility and humour are likely to increase the attention paid to the spoof, attitudes toward the parody and intentions to share it with others," they write.

The bad news for marketers: such work "can damage attitudes toward the parodied brand."

And the good news: "Purchase intentions appear isolated from these harmful effects."

Sabri and Michel advanced the state of parody evidence with considerations not just of a spoof's intent, but the quality of the parody message.

"Communication effects of parody appeals completely are mediated by attitude toward the parody, which, in turn, mainly depends on parody humor perceptions and claim credibility," they write.

"Parodists, thus, must carefully consider the design of their parody if they hope to deliver important messages to target audiences."

For product and service managers, "A credible parody with humour may harm the brand attitudes of both more and less committed consumers," they continue.

"Therefore, brand managers and organisations should acknowledge the seriously damaging potential of parodies."

Data sourced from Warc