Online criticism and cancel culture in digital marketing: a case study of audience perceptions of brand cancellation
by Christina Kyriakou; Tao Papaioannou; Marcos Komodromos
International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning (IJTEL), Vol. 15, No. 4, 2023

Abstract: Among research on (digital) consumer activism, brand boycotting and online flaming, brand cancellation practices within expanding cancel culture are yet to be fully explored. This paper contributes to extant research by identifying and analysing factors that motivate the online audience to participate in cancelling a brand and strategies to articulate brand cancellation. Twenty individual, in-depth interviews with professionals in communication and marketing were conducted. The findings indicate that offensive advertisement content that contradicts a consumer's personal beliefs is the most common factor leading to participation in brand cancellation, followed by brand ethics, anonymity in social media, peer pressure to join a cancellation and a desire for justice. Furthermore, discreetly unfollowing a brand is the most preferred cancel practice. However, when audiences perceive hate comments on a brand for insignificant reasons, this might instigate support for the brand. Lastly, this study discusses implications for businesses to manage brand cancellation.

Online publication date: Tue, 03-Oct-2023

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