Purpose advertising and the credibility gap: How consumers respond to established versus emergent brand activist messaging

One approach to purpose advertising is brand activism—taking a stand on a sociopolitical issue. This research compares divergent perspectives on whether and how brand activism influences brand attitudes and purchase intentions.
Milfeld and Haley

Management Slant

  • Brands’ perceived reputation for activism (e.g., Nike, Ben & Jerry’s, and Patagonia) translates to higher levels of credibility when taking a stand on a low-consensus message. The resulting credibility gap between established and emergent activist brands may offer established brands a competitive edge in the marketplace.
  • A high-consensus message generates greater perceived credibility and advertising outcomes than a low-consensus message does, regardless of the source. Thus, a reputation for activism does not shield established activist brands from net-negative attitudinal effects.
  • Individuals with high (versus low) issue knowledge punish emergent activist brands and reward established activist...

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