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EMAC 2020 Annual Conference

Actions speak louder than words. The effect of brands’ political advertising on consumers’ negative e-WOM

Published: May 27, 2020


Laura Grazzini, University of Florence; diletta acuti, University of Portsmouth; Luca Petruzzellis, University of Bari Aldo Moro; Daniel Korschun, Drexel University


Brands’ political advertising; Attribution of genuine concern; Perceived hypocrisy


This study explores how brands’ political advertising affects consumers’ online responses (i.e., negative e-WOM). Recently, many companies have become vocal on political issues through advertising, ranging from immigration to gender equality. However, it is still not clear how this more activist approach is perceived by consumers. A mixed-method design combining a content analysis (Study 1) with an online experiment (Study 2) is presented to obtain a multifaceted representation of the phenomenon. Study 1 provides information on consumers’ reactions toward brands’ political advertising on social media, while Study 2 tests the effect of political advertising on consumers’ negative e-WOM, by comparing a political communication initiative with a political action and proposing perceived genuine concern and hypocrisy as the underlying mechanisms. The research offers insightful theoretical and practical implications, providing brand managers actionable levers on how to reduce negative e-WOM.