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Title: Will the revolution be advertised? : rebelliousness, authenticity and brand coolness
Author: Biraglia, Alessandro
ISNI:       0000 0004 5371 383X
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2015
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Coolness has been studied by scholars from different disciplines: semiotics, sociology, anthropology and psychology. In defining coolness, scholars do agree that this concept was related to rebellious attitudes and behaviours before it started being commercialized. In this thesis the researcher builds on current literature on Coolness by linking rebellious behaviours to disadvantaged financial, social, or cultural backgrounds, which are often presented in the companies narratives describing the background of their founders. Telling stories about disadvantaged background and narrating how difficult and hard was for the owner to establish the venture has been shown to increase consumers’ connection with the brands. In this study, the researcher claims that when a brand is positioned as a rebel, consumers will consider the brand as more Cool if the brand has a disadvantaged rather than and advantaged biography, because disadvantaged brand biography seems more congruent with rebellious positioning. The researcher also argues that Brand Authenticity influences this relationship. Previous studies have pointed out how consumers perceive a company as authentic if they think that it consistently behaves in accordance with its values and beliefs. In other words, the more a brand acts in congruence with these values at all stages - production, promotion, or customer care - the more this brand will be perceived as authentic by consumers. The author here points out that being considered as an underdog may justify the actions a rebellious brand implements against the mainstream rules in order to succeed, increasing the authenticity of its claim and boosting, in turn, Coolness. Consumers may, nevertheless, evaluate rebelliousness in different ways depending on how important it is for them to be connected with or to be independent from other consumers. Self-construal is therefore tested as a potential moderator of the relationship between rebelliousness and brand authenticity. The results of five experiments showed that a disadvantaged background together with a rebellious conduct or positioning influences consumers’ evaluation of coolness. Furthermore, Brand Authenticity was found to mediate the direct effect of rebelliousness on coolness, demonstrating that a rebellious positioning is considered ‘Cool’ as long as the company acts in line with its core values. In addition, the findings indicated that the consumers’ level of independence moderated the relationship between the rebelliousness of the brand and the evaluation of the company authenticity. Lastly, the results demonstrate that the effect of a disadvantaged background sustain Coolness also when a company becomes a ‘superbrand’ and in product categories that are not necessarily evaluated as ‘Cool’ (like, for example, appliances). This research extends the literature on brand biographies and brand authenticity, demonstrating how these constructs can be applied to different domains and how they impact consumers’ evaluation of advertising clues (such as a rebellious positioning). On a managerial level, this research contributes in demonstrating that the use of a disadvantaged brand biography can help branding practitioners to enhance the level of coolness for their brands in spite of the size of the company and the product category.
Supervisor: Brakus, Josko ; Theotokis, Aristeidis ; Carroll, Angela Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available