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EMAC 2023 Annual

Impressive Insults: How do consumers perceive self-deprecating advertisements?

Published: May 24, 2023


Vaishnavi Kale, IE Business School, IE University, Madrid; Eda Sayin, IE Business School


In this research, we intend to understand how consumers perceive self-deprecating advertisements shared on different social media platforms (utilitarian vs. hedonic) and for various product types (utilitarian vs. hedonic). We posit that self-deprecating (vs. self-enhancing) advertisements will result in more positive consumer reactions (1) when shared on a utilitarian platform (i.e., LinkedIn) rather than a hedonic platform (i.e., Instagram), and (2) for more hedonic (vs. utilitarian) product types. Using deviance regulation theory (Blanton & Christie, 2003), we suggest that self-deprecating ads on utilitarian platforms are perceived as a socially attractive deviation from the norms, leading consumers to make positive brand inferences. However, this effect only persists for hedonic (vs. utilitarian) products, as consumers may consider self-deprecating ads for utilitarian products as a socially unattractive deviation from the norms.