Negative buzz on Twitter can doom good ads

Sydney: More than 70 percent of people find advertising ‘sinister’ and ‘deviant’ if they dislike the company and social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter enhance such feelings, says a new study.

Brent Coker of the University of Melbourne, Faculty of Business and Economics, says social media is to blame for making consumers ‘wiser’, as people are now more likely to read online reviews before making a purchase than to naively believe advertising claims of having the best product.

More exposure to community attitudes through reading blogs, Facebook and Twitter enhances such feelings, says Coker.

“Corporations are now more transparent as negative buzz transfers almost instantly, reaching millions of people. Corporations can no longer afford to pull the wool over consumer’s eyes. The burger in the box that doesn’t look like the picture is no longer acceptable,” he adds.

Coker conducted experiments to examine what effect this change in consumer shopping behaviour has had on consumer perceptions towards advertising.

Three groups watched an ’emotive’ mobile phone ad – one with no sponsor or logo attribution, one where the sponsor was a disliked brand and the third where the sponsor was a liked brand.

The study found that 51 percent of those who saw the disliked brand ad found it ‘dishonest’, while 70 percent also found it ‘deviant.’

Participants also hated the brand more than before they saw the advertisement, because of sinister attributions. Only 26 percent of those in this group found the ad ‘meaningful’.

“Open ended questions and analysis found that people resented the disliked company for making an otherwise great ad, and trying to convince them they were good, when people really didn’t like the company in the first place,” says Coker.

“When asked why they rated the brand as they did, the overwhelming response was due to evaluations they had read online in social media forums. If a company is already disliked, good advertising can actually ‘go bad’. Spending thousands to turn things around may actually just make things worse.”

Coker says consumers are more likely to experience ‘Sinister Attributions’ when exposed to corporate marketing – an instinctive survival mechanism that stops us being naive in the wild when being hunted by predators, said a University of Melbourne release.

“For a company that is already on the radar of consumers, this means that extremely well crafted and expensive advertisements can evoke sinister attributions in consumers. The consumer’s reaction is often ‘I hate this company for trying to talk me into liking them’,” it said.

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