Does Deceptive Marketing Pay? The Evolution of Consumer Sentiment Surrounding a Pseudo-Product-Harm Crisis

Original Paper

Abstract

The slandering of a firm’s products by competing firms poses significant threats to the victim firm, with the resulting damage often being as harmful as that from product-harm crises. In contrast to a true product-harm crisis, however, this disparagement is based on a false claim or fake news; thus, we call it a pseudo-product-harm crisis. Using a pseudo-product-harm crisis event that involved two competing firms, this research examines how consumer sentiments about the two firms evolved in response to the crisis. Our analyses show that while both firms suffered, the damage to the offending firm (which spread fake news to cause the crisis) was more detrimental, in terms of advertising effectiveness and negative news publicity, than that to the victim firm (which suffered from the false claim). Our study indicates that, even apart from ethical concerns, the false claim about the victim firm was not an effective business strategy to increase the offending firm’s performance.

Keywords

Fake news Product-harm crisis Deceptive marketing Unethical business practice Slandering Advertising Word of mouth Social media Text mining 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Tae Ho Song who provided a part of the data used in this research.

Funding

This study was not funded by any grant.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MarketingCalifornia State UniversityLong BeachUSA
  2. 2.University of Missouri-St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  3. 3.Sauder School of BusinessThe University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  4. 4.Kansas State UniversityManhattanUSA

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