The new Brand Agenda Optimizing premium brands to postmodern consumers in times of post-recession


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An analysis of Audi’s use of brand equity elements

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The new Brand Agenda Optimizing premium brands to postmodern consumers in times of post-recession

  1. 1. Source: The new Brand Agenda Optimizing premium brands to postmodern consumers in times of post-recession An analysis of Audi’s use of brand equity elements Bachelor’s Thesis, May 2011 Exam No.: 24244 BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Degree in Marketing and Management Communication At University of Aarhus, School of business and Social sciences Written by: Tine Grarup Louise Dahlerup Sørensen Supervisor: Trine Mørch Østergaard
  2. 2. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen Table of Content 1 THESIS INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................1 1.1 Introduction (Louise & Tine)........................................................................................................................1 1.2 Problem Statement (Louise & Tine)..........................................................................................................2 1.2.1 Research Questions................................................................................................................................3 1.2.2 Definition of Premium Brands and Choice of Brand for Analysis....................................3 1.3 Theory of Scientific Method (Louise & Tine) ........................................................................................4 1.3.1 Characteristics of Social Constructionism...................................................................................5 1.3.2 Characteristics of Philosophical Hermeneutics........................................................................5 1.4 Structure and Method (Louise & Tine) ....................................................................................................7 1.5 Delimitations (Louise & Tine) ......................................................................................................................8 2 CONTEXTUAL FRAMEWORK (Tine)..........................................................................................10 2.1 The Postmodern Consumer (Tine) ........................................................................................................ 10 2.2 Post-recession Consumer Characteristics (Louise)........................................................................ 12 2.3 Postmodern Consumers in Post-recession Times (Louise & Tine) ........................................ 14 3 THEORETICAL BACKGROUND (Louise)....................................................................................16 3.1 From Brand to Branding and Brand Equity (Tine)......................................................................... 16 3.2 Brand Equity Approaches (Louise)......................................................................................................... 17 3.2.1 The Consumer Brand Approach (Louise)................................................................................. 18 3.2.2 The Strategic Brand Approach (Tine)........................................................................................ 21 3.2.3 The Cultural Brand Approach (Louise)..................................................................................... 25 3.3 A Brand New World - A Discussion of Brand Equity within Context (Louise & Tine).. 26 4 EMPRICAL ANALYSIS (Tine)........................................................................................................32 4.1 Introducing the Audi Brand and Market Situation (Louise)....................................................... 32 4.2 Audi’s Super Bowl Commercials 2010 and 2011 (Louise & Tine)........................................... 33 4.2.1 Audi’s Big Game Commercial 2010 Green Police (Louise)................................................ 33 4.2.2 Audi’s Big Game Commercial 2011 Release the Hounds (Tine) ..................................... 38 4.3 Brand Equity Building within the two Commercials (Louise & Tine).................................... 43 4.3.1 Combining the two – Commenting on core and extended brand identity (Tine). 44 4.3.2 Brand Associations (Louise)........................................................................................................... 45 4.3.1 Consistency (Louise).......................................................................................................................... 46 4.3.1 Brand Equity and Value (Tine)...................................................................................................... 48
  3. 3. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen 4.4 Concluding on the Analysis (Tine) .......................................................................................................... 49 5 CONCLUSION (Louise & Tine) ......................................................................................................51 6 LIST OF REFERENCES ...................................................................................................................53 6.1 Books and Journals......................................................................................................................................... 53 6.2 Internet Sources............................................................................................................................................... 56 6.3 Audi Commercials used for analysis ...................................................................................................... 59 7 APPENDIXES...................................................................................................................................60 7.1 Appendix 1 - Aaker’s Brand Equity Assets.......................................................................................... 60 7.2 Appendix 2 - Aaker’s Brand Identity Traps ........................................................................................ 63 7.3 Appendix 3 - Kapferer’s Identity Prism, an elaboration of the six components ............... 64 7.4 Appendix 4 - Previous Audi Commercials........................................................................................... 66 7.5 Appendix 5 - Number of viewers for Audi’s Super Bowl Commercials................................. 68 Total Number of Characters: 98,574 Tine: 34,558 Louise: 32,024 Common: 31,982 The individual group member’s contribution is specified in the table of contents above.
  4. 4. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 1 of 68 1. THESIS INTRODUCTION 1.1 Introduction This thesis is based upon an interest within consumer behaviour and branding. The postmodern society of today is viewed as a consumption-oriented society where consumers have focus on more intangible needs and on building sense of self and identity (Berner 5). Thus, these consumers enter the market to produce their self-images corresponding to their desired lifestyle, demanding more and more from brands – concluding that ‘what used to be value added is now value expected’. Further, consumer behaviour is said to be affected by different external factors, one being the environment wherein the individual’s behaviour occurs (Perriman et al. 1), and the recent recession could be argued to be one such influence. The recession, which has affected most consumers, has brought along payroll declines, fewer jobs, and unstable gross domestic products (Borade) and compelled consumers to be more aware of their actions and consumption patterns (Piercy et al. 3). These changes brought to the market by factors of the recent recession’s affect on postmodern consumer behaviour, create new behaviours and thus oblige brands to keep rethinking and renewing their brand strategies. Additionally, most markets of today face very tough competition, where only the strongest will survive (Melewar & Sambrook 168), and with competition that strong markets are driven by consumer choice. Thus the need for a solid and clearly differentiated brand becomes a major priority. To meet consumer demands, a more immediate solution would be to reduce prices in order to increase sales, and for many brands this is assumed to work well. However for premium brands this is not an option as they do not have the same means for making use of the price candidate without it going beyond their brand value (McLellan). This is further the underlying motivation for choosing premium brands as focus within the thesis, as these brands are compelled to differentiate themselves by other means, where this thesis will argue for brand equity to be one. Moreover, it is argued that in times of recession/post-recession organizations should not cut back on activities such as new market initiatives, market research, and advertising, doing so might in fact hurt the organizations ability to recover strong (AiMark 1). The context of the postmodern consumer characterised by individuality
  5. 5. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 2 of 68 and appearance (Simmons 300) equally supports the significance of not cutting back on advertising and new product developments, as this lack of portrayed brand values would limit consumers’ reasoning regarding their self-images. Within the market of premium brands we find in interesting to look into the brand of Audi. For this brand it would also have been an easy choice to yield and offer cheaper products, however as mentioned this would only create inconsistency between promise and delivery, as “lower price cars still tend to be considered synonymous with lower quality and vice versa” (Melewar & Sambrook 171), and thus damage the brand’s tradition and hereby their brand equity. For the majority of today’s consumers, buying a car is not only a practical and technical choice, but also a lifestyle choice (ibid.), thus this is an understanding of consumers which should be taken into account in brand strategies of today’s premium car manufacturers. Combining the traits of the present post-recession with characteristics of the postmodern consumer, one could argue for it to shape a new angle on how and why to create and sustain brand equity – a brand new agenda. With a curiosity within the recent societal changes in consumer behaviour, as a result of the post-recession, this thesis wishes to conceptualize brand equity and make out its communicative significance within today’s post-recession market, with Audi as a premium representative. The above considerations have been gathered to generate the problem statement outlined in the subsequent part. 1.2 Problem Statement The objective of this thesis is to understand and examine how post-recession times have affected postmodern consumer behaviour, and how these behaviour changes influence especially premium brands. In concurrence this thesis will investigate and discuss the concept of brand equity as means for brand success within the premium market and in the context of postmodern consumer changes. This will further be exemplified by an empirical analysis of Audi’s use of brand equity elements in post-recession times, thus an analysis of the brand’s two latest Super Bowl commercials in 2010 and 2011.
  6. 6. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 3 of 68 1.2.1 Research Questions In order to thoroughly answer the problem statement, some research questions have been outlined below. 1. What characterises postmodern consumers in today’s post-recession market? (section 2, Contextual Framework) o What characterises postmodern consumer behaviour? o What characterises consumers in times of post-recession? o What measures must be considered when branding to the postmodern consumer, taking into account the behavioural changes caused by post-recession characteristics? 2. What does the concept of brand equity enclose? (section 3, Theoretical Framework) o How is the concept seen from different brand approaches? o How should it be understood in connection with the context discussed in research question no. 1? 3. Being a premium brand how has Audi made use of the elements of brand equity discussed in research question 2 to differentiate their brand in today’s market? (section 4, Empirical Analysis) o Audi’s 2010 and 2011 Super Bowl commercials’ use of brand equity elements discussed in research question no. 2. 1.2.2 Definition of Premium Brands and Choice of Brand for Analysis In this thesis a premium brand is understood by a brand that in contrast to a necessity good is related to income, a brand for which the demand increases as income rises. Thus premium brands have great sensitivity to economic upturns and downturns. A premium brand is further considered to be a brand at the high end of the market in terms of quality and price, and is characterized by associations of luxury (Murphy). Hereby the thesis does not make any distinction between premium and luxury brands. Premium brands are merely targeted to high-income consumers, and are commonly differentiated by producing up market branding, where focus is not on functional attributes. Within this class of brands is the premium automobile brand; Audi, which is chosen for the empirical analysis within this thesis. The
  7. 7. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 4 of 68 reason for choosing Audi is because of the brand’s place within the automobile industry, as this industry is greatly influenced by recession times. According to the Detroit News, the U.S. auto market suffered tremendously due to the global recession, dropping an extreme 37.1 percentages (Tierney), further during a recession most households will postpone purchases and hold on to their current car for an extra year or two, creating an immense reduction in units sold throughout the entire industry (Zimmerman 371). Another reason for choosing the Audi brand, is the fact that Audi is a premium brand, and as such brands are under more pressure due to their dependence on consumer income, Audi also face these challenges. Audi is further chosen as base for the analysis, as it is a premium brand that presumably has not been directly impeded by the recent crisis. Thus we find it interesting to analyze on this brand in terms of brand equity, to link the concept to possible brand success in the minds of the consumers in post-recession times. 1.3 Theory of Scientific Method The scientific frame of this thesis lays down our basic assumptions on the world, thus it operates as a foundation. Our views on how to collect and interpret knowledge and data is reflected in the problem statement which strives to describe and understand, rather than explain, the concepts of brand equity within a context of consumer behaviour and real-life. Furthermore the thesis is written within the area of communication, being highly subjective, as communication is shaped by individual understandings involved herein. Hereby the understanding worldview of social constructivism is a relevant approach to this knowledge creation within communication and branding. Furthermore the interpretable worldview of philosophical hermeneutics is added in order to be able to interpret the case for analysis, and to include the impact of consumer changes. In this relation it is relevant to look at the connection between social constructionism and the postmodern era, as postmodernism functions as a societal background for the development of social constructionism (Burr 10), hence making the scientific theory valuable when approaching the research questions.
  8. 8. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 5 of 68 1.3.1 Characteristics of Social Constructionism There is no single description to social constructionism, rather the term is multidisciplinary and is influenced by philosophy and sociology (Burr 2). Vivien Burr identifies four overall key assumptions that are fundamental for the social constructionist approach. First this area of social science insists that one is critical towards the taken-for-granted ways of understanding the world (Burr 2). Secondly it is emphasised that the way one understands the world is defined by history and culture, and perceived as the outcome of the individual culture and social surroundings (Burr 3-4). Third social constructionism holds that reality is socially constructed, and that knowledge is constructed between people, thus what is considered as truth, is thought of as the current accepted ways of understanding the world (Burr 4-5). Fourth it is stated that knowledge and social actions go together, meaning that constructions of the world bring with it human action (Burr 5). The views of social constructionism are present throughout the thesis and are particularly reflected in the theory chosen for the empirical analysis, and the understanding hereof. Further within the analysis the elements are seen within the context of the surrounding world, in which communication construct the individual consumers’ account for knowledge. Hereby it can be argued that the success of brands primarily is determined by the socially constructed consumer worldviews. 1.3.2 Characteristics of Philosophical Hermeneutics Philosophical hermeneutics is the scientific method in investigation and interpretation of the empirical data within this thesis, representing the means of producing knowledge needed to solve the research questions. Hermeneutics is the theory and practice of interpretation (Weinsheimer 1; Palmer 12), and as a part of the human sciences it seeks to understand social phenomena’s and the reason behind them, compared to natural sciences attempting to explain them (Palmer 8). Philosophical hermeneutics views upon the interrelation between a social phenomenon - a communicative occurrence, and the receiver, and is characterised by a dynamic interpretation towards its influence (Skinner 23). Furthermore, philosophical hermeneutics delivers an essential contribution to the understanding of today’s society, approaching cultural and historical means which constitute
  9. 9. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 6 of 68 a modern self-understanding, it hereby argues that “human beings do not have a history but are historical in nature” (PHH; Weinsheimer 14). It addresses “not what we do but what happens to us”, hence what it means to be a human being within the surrounding reality (Weinsheimer 32). This viewpoint is applied throughout the thesis and the underlying motivation, as it addresses the importance of adapting to societal changes, as these changes are inevitable and will happen to us all. Thus within philosophical hermeneutics a holistic approach is needed taking human situatedness into account (Weinsheimer 14), and herein one would operate on an ontological level where meaning is created as an ongoing process of understanding a phenomenon (Skinner 26). On the methodological level, philosophical hermeneutics makes use of the hermeneutical circle, which holds a relation of part and whole (Weinsheimer 14; Palmer 78), meaning that interpretation becomes a circular process, in which the circle as a whole defines the individual parts, all within a cultural and historical context (ibid.). Within this thesis, the hermeneutical circle manifests itself as an investigative methodology when creating an understanding of the whole; successful brand equity within real-life context. The contextual and theoretical framework set basis for the analysis of Audi’s use of brand equity elements, hence it is through these individual parts that an overall conclusion of the thesis is reached, creating a whole. Further the hermeneutic circle is used in the structure of the theoretical framework, as the concept of brand equity will be understood by an examination of three different approaches. We are aware that some parts throughout the thesis, especially in the theoretical background and parts of the analysis will take a sender perspective, going against the empery of philosophical hermeneutics. However as this thesis is written within the area of communication, it is argued that a starting point must be taken from sender’s perspective, as it is here one is able to initially modify the outcomes. The interest of analysis and the attended outcome will still be with focus on the context and communication being shaped by individual understandings involved herein.
  10. 10. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 7 of 68 1.4 Structure and Method With an outset in the problem statement, the research questions, and the theory of scientific method this thesis is divided into 5 sections. Section 1 and 5, being the introduction and the conclusion, set the frame for the thesis as a whole. Section 2 is the contextual framework, which is transverse and introduces the relevant context of postmodern consumer characteristics influenced by post-recession, thus providing an answer for the first research question. It is found important to include this section as a point of departure for investigating and interpreting both theory and analysis, in order to see the following sections within a context of the surrounding social world. Section 3 is set to answer the second research question, putting forward the theoretical background as a basis for the empirical analysis. This section is divided into three overall brand approaches to better provide a broad overview of the concept of brand equity. The first approach is the consumer brand approach where David A. Aaker defines brand equity to provide value for consumers. Secondly the strategic brand approach is introduced by Jean-Noel Kapferer, underlining the importance of the interrelationship between the business strategy and the brand strategy. Thirdly, Douglas B. Holt’s viewpoints on cultural branding are added, not as a critique of the other two, but as an extension. Incorporating these different approached makes it possible to achieve a more diverse and deep understanding of brand equity. Further, based on this, the most suitable brand equity construct is discussed and revised in correspondence with the above mentioned contextual focus of the thesis. Lastly section 4 constitutes the empirical analysis of Audi’s two latest Super Bowl commercials from 2010 and 2011, making use of the discussed theory from section 3 to answer the third research question; how has Audi made use of the revised brand equity elements. Within this analysis elements of Kress and van Leeuwen’s theory on visual analysis and Aristotle’s appeals of persuasion will be applied. To provide the reader with an overview of the thesis structure, a model has been created below. The theory and analysis is placed within the contextual framework and the scientific method, as these provide a basis for the thesis in order to reach a theoretical and analytical conclusion based on these grounds. The model shows that the sections are interconnected in the sense that context and worldview affect the entire thesis and that the analysis is based on findings within theory.
  11. 11. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 8 of 68 Figure 1: Thesis structure (own adaption) 1.5 Delimitations Delimitations is provided with the intention to make it explicit what we do not intend to accomplish and what the design of the thesis will not naturally allow. Due to our international area of study, the thesis will only incorporate a U.S. perspective, and hereby the chosen material for the empirical analysis further only derives from Audi’s U.S. campaigns. With this focus on the U.S market the contextual framework, especially concerning the post-recession characteristics, will also hold a U.S. perspective. Further, because Audi is a premium brand the post-recession characteristics described in contextual framework will for most parts look into the consumer changes on the premium market. However, some characteristics are of course general for all consumers no matter income. The subject area of brand equity is widely discussed and puts forward many different viewpoints and theories – more than can be covered within the scope of this thesis. Therefore it is chosen to leave out some theorists’ viewpoints, and only include the ones we find significant within the area of branding. The three perspectives chosen are further the ones that best supplement each other in regards to the context put forward in the thesis. Hereby the context also influences which elements of theory that will be brought forward to suit the surrounding social world, and further will have an effect on how the brand equity theories are Contextual Framework & Scientific Method Theoretical framework Empirical Analysis
  12. 12. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 9 of 68 applied to the analysis. Focus here will mainly be on the elements extracted according to new consumer characteristics, and hereby some elements within branding and brand equity theory have been excluded. Furthermore, it is known that brand equity may not be the only means for developing and sustaining brand superiority in today’s market. However such an analysis will demand a thorough investigation that goes beyond what can be presented in this thesis. Thus our focus on the empirical investigation and analysis is chosen to evolve solely around brand equity building. With regards to the analysis, this thesis will only focus on parts of Audi’s 2010 and 2011 campaigns, namely the Super Bowl commercials Green Police and Release the Hounds. The reason for excluding other promotion material is due to the length and extent of the thesis. We find it reasonable not to include further material for analysis, as these two current commercials and their analysis results should be able to facilitate an answer to the problem statement. Moreover, instead of comparing the empirical analysis to previous campaign material or competing campaigns, our conclusion of analysis will be based with reference to the commercials use of brand equity elements and Audi’s accomplishments on the U.S. market. This section 1 has provided a basis for understanding the worldview, structure and content of this thesis. The following section will create further basis for both theory and analysis, as it will present the contextual framework of the thesis, namely an investigation of post-recession times and interpretation of its impact on postmodern consumer behaviour.
  13. 13. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 10 of 68 2 CONTEXTUAL FRAMWORK By looking into the concepts and characteristics of post-recession and the postmodern consumer, this section will answer the first research question; what characterises postmodern consumers in today’s market? (cf. 1.2.1). The contextual framework further functions as a basis for investigating and interpreting theory and conducting the empirical analysis, in order to draw a reasonable and contemporary conclusion. The postmodern era has and will hold a significant challenge for brands needing to be aware of the changes within their field and react accordingly (Christensen 163). Hence the context of postmodern consumerism is relevant when considering marketing efforts in today’s post- recession market. 2.1 The Postmodern Consumer The postmodern society of today emerged as a reaction against the more traditional and established forms of modernism (Berner 1). The move from modern to postmodern societies suggests changes within consumer characteristics and consumption patterns. The modern consumer was characterised by stability with focus on facts and rational thinking (Berner 3), whereas the postmodern era has influenced markets to be more unpredictable, as consumers are becoming more spontaneous and are drawn towards brands for the image they represent and not their functional attributes. Consumption is no longer defined by the cost/benefit assessments of choices (Firat & Schultz 192), rather consumers find it increasingly important to satisfy higher needs through purchases. Hence, it can be argued that postmodern consumers to some extend have turned Maslow’s hierarchy of needs upside-down. According to Firat and Schultz the postmodern consumer “[...] has evolved into Homo consumericus, a creature defined by consumption and the experiences derived there from” (193), thus for the postmodern consumers the self is not consistent (ibid.). As further stated by Firat and Schultz, the principal goal of these postmodern individuals “is to (re)produce and (re)present oneself as an image” (198). Consumers hereby actively enter the market and make brand choices in order to produce their self-images, with the anticipation that the brand they consume will match or enhance the lifestyle and the self-image they wish to convey to
  14. 14. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 11 of 68 their social environment (ibid.). This means that the relationship between product and image is reversed, as images no longer represent the product values as within the modern era (Firat & Schultz 198). Instead the products should represent the image, as postmodern consumers purchase products to achieve values recognized herein (ibid.). Consequently one can further argue that the symbolic functions and the image are more important than the functional and material. Another condition of the postmodern era is the increasing avoidance of commitment to any single idea and the unwillingness to conform to pressure for brand loyalty (Berner 5; Firat & Schultz 190). Hereby consumers merely exercise freedom of choice and movement where impulse command (Berner 5). In such environment where only a momentary attachment towards the brand is present, as long as the image represented is seductive, a continual (re)production and (re)positioning of images is necessitated (Firat & Schultz 195). As the postmodern evolution is considered to be global (Firat & Schultz), it is assumed that U.S. consumers undertake the same characteristics discussed above. The shift from the modern to the postmodern society has profound implications for the majority of organisations and brands of today, having to learn how to adapt to this postmodern era, its dominant consumers, and societal changes brought forward (Firat & Schultz 198). There is a need to understand how these consumers perceive value, making it important for brands to provide products that represent the desired images, and not just provide images presenting the already existing products (Ibid). The above postmodern consumer perspective sees the development of society as a possibility, and is the perspective held by this thesis, mainly due to personal standpoints in connection with the presented world view. However, a contradicting perspective is present within scepticisms of the postmodern society, where the era is perceived as a superficial reality, lacking depth and characterized by identity confusion (Simmons 301). Even though this latter perspective does not see the postmodern era as an opportunity, it still agrees with the above, and the thesis’ perspective in consumption no longer being a passive act of consumers. Hereby, it is important for brands to see possibilities within this era, and adapt strategies hereto.
  15. 15. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 12 of 68 2.2 Post-recession Consumer Characteristics During a recession consumers tend to adapt behaviour to the situation at hand, however subsequent to its ending, their consumption patterns have a tendency to return back to how they were prior to the recession (Consumer Tactics 25). Nevertheless, occasionally a situation imprints so dramatically in consumers’ mind, affecting and shaping their behaviour over a longer period of time (Ibid.). This recent recession can be argued to be one such imprint. Thus, even though the recent recession might have ended, the aftermath hereof is still visible in consumer behaviour and consumption worldwide, shaping new trends, as consumer attitude towards spending will not surely return back to the way it was (Bohlen et al. 1). Instead post-recession consumers tend to be more pensive, transforming immense and unregulated consumption into more sensible and thoughtful spending, challenging brands to step up and adapt (Piercy et al. 3). This trend is not limited only to those in financial difficulties; the truth is that there are many affluent consumers who are adapting to this more regulated spending, even though they are not in financial difficulties (Flatters & Willmott 3). A tendency as such makes it possible to acknowledge that a new type of consumers will strongly influence how brands and particular premium brands, should market themselves in the future (ibid.). Also, according to Bohlen et al., consumers in the U.S. have altered their buying behaviour from premium to more budget, as they have found that lower price products are often as good in value as their favoured premium brands (1). Thus premium brands might find an increase in competition, hereby making it is of utter importance for these brands to focus on points of differentiation. Prior to the global recession consumers did not hesitate to seek justification for purchasing products, by associating themselves with brands that satisfied their needs and wants. However, short after the recession took its shape, the same consumers that previously had engaged in affluent spending could just as fast turn away from this pattern and dump any product that felt short of their needs (Flatters & Willmott 3). This disloyal way of consuming has tagged along from the recession and into the post-recession (ibid.), influencing brands, as they now cannot count on customers to stay loyal anymore. Another consumer characteristic shaping post-recession is the trait that consumers are redefining what value means to them. Consumers now show fondness for more timeless luxury instead of trendy fashion (Hooper et
  16. 16. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 13 of 68 al.), meaning that they hold preference towards the type of luxury that will last longer. In line with this, consumers are reassessing their attitude, not focusing as much on excessive extravagance any more, but instead on self-indulgence and longer lasting experiences (Horovitz 1). Consumers are thus rethinking status and are shaping a new and diverse definition of luxury (ibid.). Moreover, prior to the recession, green consumerism and thus the preference towards eco- friendly products and services was present among consumers (Chen 29). Even though recent data suggests that the financial hard-ship caused by the recession, has reduced consumers’ preferences for green and ethical products (Flatters and Willmott 109), this perspective is not certain to hold true. “Research suggests that the environment remains a priority to consumers hit by the recession, and that brands' green credentials have a far greater influence on consumer purchasing decisions than marketing directors recognize” (Choueke 1). Based on this as well as the fact that we are moving away from financial hardship, it can be argued that green marketing should not be forgotten. The many changes in consumer behaviour, as an outcome of the global recession, could be proven to have a rather negative effect on premium brands, as they cannot meet new consumer demands and thus make use of the price candidate. Seeing that lowering prices to budget level, as tool for differentiating, would cause sacrifices to the brand value (cf. 1.2.2; McLellan). In this new market situation there are several companies that have gone about the financial difficulties by lowering prices, supported by Perriman et al. Stating that “companies that can offer hard value or cost benefit may be able to boost their sales, revenue and market share” (2). However, according to Ritson the brands that will be successful in the future are the brands that keep from lowering their product prices (20). Thus, once you as a brand introduce low budget options, it is hard to get the former premium brand identity back. Meaning that premium brands must concentrate on providing that something extra in order to differentiate themselves, attract new and keep present consumers, and thus have them invest in their products. Moreover Welch argues that it is not an option for marketers to wait for better times, seeing that the behaviour and expectations of consumers are in the process being altered and will
  17. 17. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 14 of 68 unlikely return to the way it was before (in Piercy et. al 4). Thus it is imperative for brands to be familiar with these new means of consumption by adapting to it. It is further argued that, in this weakened economy, consistency might be the key to success, as Stoeckel states “any industry and any company that stays true to their brand will do better than those that are less consistent” (Lisanti). Further, even though the recession has influenced the way consumers think, “[p]rojections indicate that the world’s economy will double in the first twenty years of the 21st century, suggesting that economic growth has only been interrupted by the downturn” (Piercy et al. 5). If these projections hold true, it is clear why brands should invest in marketing during and after the recession, hence not try and wait out the storm, but instead invest in their future. This is supported by Brodsky who argues that brands should “[…] cut expenses everywhere but in sales and marketing”. In relation to our problem statement, the data put forth here, makes it possible to argue that premium brands are affected by the recession. 2.3 Postmodern consumers in Post-recession Times The postmodern characterization still matches consumers of today’s market, however as a consequence of recession supplementary characteristics have been added. Consumers still seek to define themselves through brand choices consistent with the situation at hand, and to (re)produce and (re)present a self-image making them desirable herein. Nevertheless the transformation from immense to pensive spending makes it more difficult for brands to satisfy these consumer needs. Thus it is important for brands to understand how consumers perceive value and further be able to react accordingly in order to differentiate themselves and become the brand chosen. In today’s competitive market there are too many brand choices available for consumers to figure out what makes a particular brand special, making it the brand’s responsibility to communicate this information to consumers. Furthermore the post-recession characteristics enhance the decrease in commitment among postmodern consumers, making a suitable reaction from brands of utter importance. However, regardless a decrease in consumer commitment and loyalty, it seems that trust is now an imperative component for brands to survive in the post-recession era. This is supported in a study by Millward Brown, suggesting that “trust remains essential. It is the customer’s belief, cultivated over time, in the efficacy and reliability of the brand” (3). Though, even if trust is central, the report also suggests that recommendation is an important part in the consumer-brand
  18. 18. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 15 of 68 relationship, as it is “the customer’s belief, grounded in recent experience that the brand continues to perform consistently and fulfil its promise” (ibid.). From this notion it can be extracted that trust and consistency are key components when branding to the postmodern consumers during post-recession, and that these factors might now be more important than loyalty. The relevance of this contemporary consumer’s profile hereby indicates important aspect to look into and maybe research opportunities worthy of further pursuit. Due to this, the brand equity theory used for the empirical analysis will be shaped by the above mentioned discussed context. Below a visualization is provided in order clarify the changes within postmodern behaviour as a result of recession times. Having just accounted for postmodern as well as post-recession consumer characteristics, this section has argued for the importance of looking into both, and hereby adapting postmodern characteristics to changes caused by the recession. The next section will account for brand equity theories and three approaches hereto and in addition give suggestions to a more contemporary approach, one that takes into account the recent changes to consumer behaviour. Postmodern consumer beahviour on the U.S. market before the great recession • (re)produce & (re)present self-image • Immense consumerism and spending • Loyal consumers Postmodern consumer behvaiour on the U.S. market after the great recession • (re)produce &(re)present self-image • Pensive consumerism and spending • Decrease in loyalty • Consistency and trust is important
  19. 19. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 16 of 68 3 THEORETICAL BACKGROUND In this section, the theoretical background will be provided with the purpose of answering the second research question; what does the concept of brand equity holds (cf. 1.2.1). The following theory is provided in order to gain an understanding of theories within the field of branding and the concepts of brand equity, and will function as a basis for the empirical analysis. 3.1 From Brand to Branding and Brand Equity It is difficult to address branding and the concept of brand equity without asking the question: “What is a brand?” Brands have been a major aspect of marketing reality for more than a hundred years (Feldwick 35), and the definition is one of the common points of disagreements between experts, having defined the term in various ways over the years, varying much according to the perspective from which the brand is perceived (Kapferer 9; Heding et al. 9). The American Marketing Association defined the term brand in the 1960s as: “A name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them which is indented to identify the goods or services of one seller or a group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors” (Hedin et al. 9). This definition puts focus on the actual product and competition, however one could argue for it to neglect the intangible assets likewise contributing to the making of the brand. Contrary, Interbrand1 provides a more contemporary and organic definition, further considering the manageable qualities of a brand. This definition, which also will be the one used as a basis in this thesis is as follows: “A mixture of tangible and intangible attributes, symbolised in a trademark, which, if properly managed, creates influence and generates value” (cited in Melewar & Sambrook 167). The definition emphasizes the fact that strong brands encompass much more than just a logo, within this visual symbol and name a brand encapsulates all the goodwill created by the positive experiences of consumers, its products, its channels, its communication, and its people (Kapferer 2). However, it is significant to mention that these intangible attributes also are the most demanding and difficult to master, when creating brand superiority, meaning that it is necessary to be able to manage these points of contact in an incorporated and focused way. 1 Global Branding consultancy
  20. 20. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 17 of 68 According to Melewar and Sambrook, a brand represent added value for most consumers (171), hence branding is of utter importance in times of post-recession where markets face strong competition (cf. 2.2). This means that when premium brands cannot reduce prices, they can move focus towards the brand building process in order to add value to their products. Compared to brand as a term, the theory of branding is much more recent, and has experienced a dramatic shift in the last decades. When first articulated in Harvard Business Review in 1955, the concept was still perceived secondary to traditional advertising theory and just another step in the whole process of using marketing to sell products (Feldwick 35). A change in perception appeared in the 1980s with the recognition of the financial values of the brand and their ability to make capital and develop brand value, thus the concept of branding and brand image was substituted by a more real and financial equal ‘brand equity’ (Feldwick 36). This concept of brand equity provides value for the underlying problem statement of this thesis, as it represents a method for differentiation for premium brands in times of post-recession. Even though the concept of branding and brand equity has grown to be well-liked and is discussed in many books, the concept has also been subject to many different viewpoints (Feldwick 36). Within this thesis, these different viewpoints are the reason for investigating the concept of brand equity from three overall theoretical approaches. 3.2 Brand Equity Approaches As stated above there is no clear definition of brand equity, creating a need to view the concept from different approaches. The thesis incorporates three approaches to branding; a consumer, a strategic and a cultural approach respectively, in order to provide a better overview on how brand equity is understood, as well as to create a foundation for discussing the concept in relation to the contextual framework (cf. 2.3). As this thesis operates based on the contemporary definition of a brand, it highlights the importance of intangible attributes (cf. 3.1). Scholars of marketing David A. Aaker, Sean-nöel Kapferer, and Douglas B. Holt’s views on branding are applied to this thesis due to their fit herein. They all acknowledge that in order to be amongst the best, brands need to encompass much more than just a product (cf. 3.3). Even though these approaches hold different views on the concept of branding and
  21. 21. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 18 of 68 brand equity, their agreements make it possible to account for a more contemporary and general understanding of the concept, which will be applied in part 3.3. 3.2.1 The Consumer Brand Approach Aaker’s approach to brand equity addresses the concept from the viewpoint of the consumer, seeing that he focuses on what provides value to them, however he also acknowledges that this idea functions a possible route towards establishing value for the firm as well (Aaker, Managing 16). He defines brand equity as “a set of assets, and liabilities linked to a brand’s name and symbol that adds to or subtracts from the value provided by a product or service to a firm and/or that firm’s customers” (Aaker, Managing 15). The assets which are the keys to establishing brand equity are categorized as; perceived quality, brand associations, brand name awareness and brand loyalty (ibid.), and are further elaborated on in appendix 1. According to Aaker these assets add, or subtract, value for consumers and “helps them interpret, process, and store huge quantities of information about products and brands”, in the end making it easier to make a decision due to the value created by the product (Managing 16). Thus, if consumers for instance perceive a brand to hold high quality it will certainly influence their brand choice, create loyalty towards the brand and enhance brand equity. According to Aaker “brand loyalty of the customer base is often the core of a brand’s equity” (Managing 46). Further Aaker lists these assets that compromise brand equity as separate entities, however they regularly interlink, working as supplements (Managing 18). According to Aaker, the first step of building brand equity is to make out which of the brand’s assets and skills that are most outstanding and unique in comparison to competitors, and thus which of them the brand should select to build their strategy on (Managing 13). Creating a competitive advantage, also referred to as establishing brand equity, can be done by means of establishing a strong and broad brand identity, as this for Aaker is very important seeing that this will allow for the brand to achieve maximum brand strength (Building 69). The elements of Aaker’s brand identity are visualized in figure 2 below, and are further exemplified in the remainder of this part.
  22. 22. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 19 of 68 Figure 2: Brand Identity System (Aaker, Building 78) According to Aaker, when discussing brand identity, there is two levels to consider, namely the core identity which is the “timeless essence of the brand” and the extended identity, being the “elements that provide texture and completeness” (Building 85-89). The idea behind the core identity is for it to be consistent, also when brand extensions as well as market expansion are in question (Aaker, Building 86). In addition, Aaker argues that brands should develop certain groupings of the core and extended identity elements, seeing that people tend to respond better to the overall picture rather than separate characteristics (Building 93). This means that in the process of developing brand identity it is important to group the elements so that they support each other and thus make it easier to link the identity to brand associations. Furthermore, when it comes to the extended brand identity, he argues that the wider the extended identity, the greater chances of success and impressions within the minds of consumers (Aaker, Building 88). Aaker introduces four perspectives to brand identity to help enhance meaning making for the brand, being brand as product, as organization, as person and as symbol (Building 78). However, it is not a necessity for brands to employ all perspectives, for some brands only one might be viable (ibid.). When considering brand as product, the strategy is to create a link between the product and the class in which the product belongs. By doing so, the brand will easier be recalled by consumers when this product class is thought of (Aaker, Building 80).
  23. 23. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 20 of 68 However, one should keep in mind that a brand identity cannot and should not be constructed only with regards to product-related attributes, as this might lead to a decrease in terms of brand equity. Focusing on products over other parts of the brand identity, may result in a brand’s failure to differentiate itself, and is referred to as the product-attribution-fixation trap (Aaker, Building 72). Nevertheless it is still important to consider the product-related attributes, seeing that a brand is more than a product (ibid.). This argument agrees with the postmodern consumer characteristics seeing that these consumers focus more on self- expressive benefits (cf. 2.1) and thus supports the idea of not only making use of functional benefits in establishing brand equity. The product-attribution-fixation trap is further elaborated on in appendix 2, alongside with Aaker’s other possible traps. When linking the identity to the organization behind the brand and hereby making use of the brand identity; brand as organization, one adds the organization’s values to the identity, making it more enduring and resistant to competition than the product-related attributes (Aaker, Building 82-83). Focusing on the brand as a symbol provides cohesion and structure through symbolic meaning, thus making it less problematic to establish recognition and recall among consumers (Aaker, Building 84-85). As mentioned above, brand identity can also be established by means of referring the identity to a person, meaning that a brand can gain from associating itself with personality traits. Hence, engaging in a relationship with a personality makes the brand identity richer and more interesting (Aaker, Building 83-83). In the process of establishing a brand identity it is important to supplement the different identity perspectives with a value proposition; “a statement of the functional, emotional, and self-expressive benefits delivered by the brand that provide value to the customer […]” (Aaker, Building 95). Emotional benefits add a positive feeling in relation to the brand, by adding an emotional benefit to the experience of using and owning a brand, the experience become richer (Aaker, Building 97). Adding self-expressive benefits to the brand identity allows for consumers to express themselves via the brand, allowing consumers to reveal their self-image (Aaker, Building 98). Also, even though a brand should be careful not to focus too much on their functional benefits, there is a need for these benefits to be present seeing that this allows for a link directly to the product, making it possible to dominate a given category (Aaker, Building 96). Besides for it to support stronger brand equity via associations, the idea behind an extensive brand identity is further to encourage a relationship between consumers
  24. 24. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 21 of 68 and the brand. However this is more likely to happen if the brand identity is build via the brand as organization or brand as person approach, as these will enhance a more emotional and self-expressive relationship, than the one of brand as product (Aaker, Building 103). Even though it is not always possible for a brand to have the same identity across markets and products, it is still necessary that there are common traits between the identities being communicated. Thus, when working with multiple identities “the goal should be to make them as consistent as possible without undercutting their impact and effectiveness”. (Aaker, Building 105) In the next part Kapferer’s approach to branding will be implemented as he sees band equity from a more strategic perspective and thus ads further dimensions to the concept. 3.2.2 The Strategic Brand Approach Kapferer’s approach to branding and brand equity will in this thesis be referred to as strategic seeing that it comprise the idea that the brand is a strategic instrument with a key purpose to create value and profit (Kapferer 31). The thesis acknowledges that Kapferer may as well be consumer oriented in elements of his approach, however he differentiate himself from Aaker (cf. 3.2.1) by adding a more strategic and financial perspective to the concept of brand equity, much relevant for the context and objective of this thesis. In his approach to branding Kapferer puts forward a unity between two outlooks, namely Keller’s consumer-based definition stating that “a brand is a set of mental associations, held by the consumer, which add to the perceived value of a product or service” (cited in Kapferer 10) and a more financial perspective, measuring brand value by isolating the cash flows created by the brand and brand assets created in the minds of the consumers (Kapferer 10). Furthermore Kapferer identifies brands as intangible and conditional assets, meaning that a brand is more than the tangible product, but at the same time it cannot do without products or services to carry it either (10). This does to some extend add to the statement that a brand is more than a product, seeing that the brand also needs the product as its manifestation, Kapferer argues that “products increase consumer choice; brands simplify it” (178). In relation to brand equity, where Aaker restrict the use of the concept to consumer mental associations and behaviour (Kapferer 13; cf. 3.2.1), Kapferer does as mentioned find it
  25. 25. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 22 of 68 important to illustrate the connection between the consumer and the financial approaches, which places his theory within the contextual framework of post-recession, as difficult recession times have made it imperative for most brands to carefully consider their finances. He distinguishes between three elements of brand equity; brand assets, brand strength, and brand value (Kapferer 14). Brand assets refer to the mental associations influencing consumers in their choices, and relationships acquired over time from different interactions with the brand. Brand strength then is the result of these assets, and indicates the present status of the brand. As a final element, brand value comprise the financial aspect of brand equity and is the profit-potential of the brand, measuring the brands worth – indicating that strong brands have less financial risk for both consumer and organization (Kapferer 14-15). Hence, brand equity according to Kapferer is the added profits created by the brand now and in the future (143). With his studies on brand equity Kapferer is further a constant promoter of the holistic approach to brand identity, arguing that products alone are mute, the brand is what guides consumer perception and gives the product meaning and purpose – building an identity (Kapferer 178). As within the consumer-oriented paradigm above, Kapferer sees brand identity as a part of brand positioning (171), and further a necessary concept when building brand equity, as the identity creates awareness, being an indicator of brand equity (Kapferer 17). Kapferer’s identity prism below (figure 3) considers how a brand should address the matter of identity and the importance of communication when building brand equity, making sure that the message is received and diversification is achieved (Melewar & Sambrook 168; Dahlen et al. 215). Kapferer argues that the best way to understand the meaning making of brands is to discover the essence of the brand identity (189). This identity concept according to Kapferer serves to emphasise the fact that even though brands starts out as mere product names, they eventually gain their independence over time (Kapferer 175), meaning that through the process of building a brand identity brands obtain differentiation, and hereby enhance possibilities of building brand equity and thereby brand value.
  26. 26. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 23 of 68 Figure 3: Kapferer’s Brand identity prism (Kapferer 183) The figure above represents the six facets of Kapferer’s brand identity. First a brand must contain the external specificity of physical properties, which is the core of the brand and its value added – more precisely the product features, symbols, and attributes (Kapferer 18). The second element of the identity prism is brand personality (Kapferer 183), which is also a part of Aaker’s brand identity (cf. 3.2.1). This idea of the brand having a personality is developed by brand character and attitude, and is internal to the brand, thus should not be confused with the image of consumer’s reflection. Third the characteristic of brand relationship emphasize the type of behaviour which is identified in connection to the brand, thus the beliefs and associations of the consumers (Kapferer 185). Furthermore brands possess culture, symbolizing the organization - from which it originated, and the values it stands for, putting forth similarities to Aaker’s brand as organization (cf. 3.2.1). Based on the fact that brands are a consumer reflection, this is the fifth facet (Kapferer 186). Thus brands should be a reflection of who/what consumers would like to be, and not who they actually are. Last brands are closely related to the understanding of consumer self-images, being the features with which consumers identify themselves and the very same features they would like the chosen brand to reflect (Kapferer 186-187). These six facets are further elaborated on in appendix 3. The facets are argued to preserve a vertical subdivision, the ones on the left are internal factors to the brand; essentially what the company projects in its brand message, and the elements on the right provide the brand with external expression; what the consumers perceive the brand to be (Melewar & Sambrook 169), herein lays also the visible and tangible aspects,
  27. 27. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 24 of 68 represented in a company’s logo. All six components within the prism emphasize brand identity, and likewise uphold horizontal subdivisions. Physique and personality allow shaping the sender (Kapferer 187), the recipient is defined by reflection and self-image, and the last two elements of brand identity: culture and relationship link the sender and the recipient (ibid.). Having a distinct vision of a brand’s identity creates brand power and clarity about what makes the brand values distinctive (Melewar & Sambrook 168), thus it is a major part of Kapferer’s brand equity in question. As mentioned, building brand identity will strengthen the brand’s positioning, however as the majority of brands on today’s market are based on multiple products, it is important to ensure that their respective positioning aim to converge the same core values of the brand (Kapferer 181-182). As Kapferer states; “[...] the product’s positioning promotes a consumer attribute or benefit, while the parent brand specifies the ‘terminal value’ that this attribute and benefit enables the consumer to reach.” (181). The following quotation from Kapferer (cited in Melewar & Sambrook 170-171) highlights the importance of branding and brand equity building for premium brands in times of post- recession. “Essentially, a brand exists when there is a perceived financial risk involved. When the risk perceived by the consumer disappears, the brand loses its use, added value and point of reference, becoming a mere name tag in the eyes of the consumer. The perceived risk increases alongside price and the potential consequences of a bad purchase. Hence the role of a brand is to manage this risk.” Premium brands would be perceived as purchases with specific high risk, and one could argue that brand equity is essential within such consumer choices. Seeing that if consumers have confidence in a brand and they know that their particular needs will be answered by this brand and its reputation, then the risk of getting it wrong is reduced, thus reinforcing the vast importance of brand equity and its creation of superiority and value for the brand. Referring to the previous brand approach, Kapferer share with Aaker his emphasis merely on the sender’s definition of the brand – they both focus on identity rather than image (Kapferer
  28. 28. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 25 of 68 174; cf. 3.2.1). This stance is likely to contradict with the scientific method of philosophical hermeneutics and the belief within the postmodern era, where consumers actively produce their self-images by interpreting and consuming brands to fit their lifestyle (cf. 2.1). However, as argued earlier (cf. 1.3) this thesis is written within the area of communication where one must merely put focus on the sender’s perspective, as this is where one is able to modify the outcomes, as identity precedes image. To take the more contextual view and the message- consumer relationship into perspective, the concept of brand equity will further be supplemented with Holt’s cultural brand approach and explored within the contextual framework in part 3.3. 3.2.3 The Cultural Brand Approach In general, both Aaker and Kapferer, focus on a more essentialist approach to branding as they do not see the concept of brand equity within context. This does not mean that both are not consumer conscious, but rather that they are not that concerned with the social and cultural aspects that surround brands. This cultural viewpoint on branding is studied by Douglas B. Holt, who argues for the importance of collecting cultural knowledge about society instead of knowledge about the individual consumer (209). According to him, a brand should strive to capture an iconic status, which is an extra dimension to brand identity where strong identity brands rise to a higher level by developing and incorporating a myth focusing on social tensions within society (Holt 3-6). A myth is further defined as a “simple story that resolves cultural contradictions” and is a prerequisite in iconic branding (Holt 11). Thus, the reason for developing such myths is to provide society and people herein with a way to deal with their desires and anxieties, hence the contradictions (Holt 7-8). Nevertheless, not all brands hold the ability to become iconic brands, as the development of cultural icons are most relevant in relation to those brands where consumer can value their products as a means for self-expression (Holt 5). Creating myths does not exclude the brand identity as a means of developing the myth, however focus should merely be on the social and cultural context in which the communication takes place, thus an added dimension to the more general branding
  29. 29. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 26 of 68 approaches. Holts approach to branding stems from the concept of cultural icons2 such as Nelson Mandela and Steve Jobs, Superman and Rambo (1). Cultural branding is the art of obtaining the same status as these personas have in society (ibid.), as visualized in his model below (figure 4). Thus the most powerful brands are the ones that manage to generate a myth that takes them to this status in society, allowing them to become iconic brands. However, according to Holt this status of an iconic brand cannot be obtained with a strong identity, it is only when establishing a myth around their identity that brands become superior to other brands (Holt 1). Figure 4: Iconic Brands (Holt 4) The different viewpoints of brand equity have now been accounted for and the following part 3.3 will then discuss the theories and their worth within the contextual framework of the thesis. 3.3 A new Brand Agenda - A Discussion of Brand Equity within Context In order to get the most out the theories stated above and set them in relation to the discussed contextual framework (cf. 2.3), this following part will put forward and discuss the most essential elements in building brand equity with a more contextual and contemporary outlook in mind. This further supports one of the key assumptions in social constructionism, stating 2 The Oxford English Dictionary defines a cultural icon as “a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol, especially of a culture or a movement; a person or an institution considered worthy of admiration or respect” (Holt 1)
  30. 30. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 27 of 68 that one must be critical towards the taken-for-granted ways of understanding the world(cf. 1.3.1), thus also the taken-for-granted brand equity theories. Recognising the challenges that come along with today’s consumer changes may facilitate that the concept of branding and brand equity can no longer be seen as a tool, for which there is only one right application. With a new spin on postmodern consumer behaviour (cf. 2.3) it can be argued whether all elements of the above stated brand equity theories are as beneficial as they were before the recession. Consumers are more pensive and reluctant in their spending and at the same time they are still looking to (re)produce their self-images and to express themselves via brand choices. This brings challenges to premium brands as they now need to fight harder for this tentative consumer attention, making it of utter importance for brands to rethink their branding and means for differentiation. Within this perspective it is important to note that brand equity is not something you measure on its own, it consists of different assets, that all together help create brand strength and value - communicated well these elements then build brand equity. It is clear that there is more to brand equity than the product alone, and the brand approaches above also argue for the importance of communicating other brand assets. However one must not forget that the basis for the brand is exactly this product, meaning that all elements must be considered when building brand equity. When reviewing the above theories it is quite clear that brand identity is an essential part of building brand equity. To place the concept of brand equity within context one would hereby also need to define brand identity and its importance in today’s society. Uniting the viewpoints from the consumer and strategic approach, brand identity is what allows brands to be more than just a product name, it is what guides consumer perception and creates associations to the brand (cf. 3.2.1; 3.2.2). This is further an important quality in regards to today’s consumers (cf. 2.3), who actively seeks to produce their self-images by means of their brand choices, and thus looking for brand associations. Hereby a great part of the strength of brand equity lies in the consumers and their understanding and interpretation of the brand identity, which likewise goes with the chosen theory of scientific method (cf. 1.4). Hence when building brand equity, brands must merely put focus on creating an identity that reflect consumer needs and lifestyle, so that consumers are able to imagine themselves and their use of that particular brand, as emphasized in Kapferer’s brand identity prism, brands should
  31. 31. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 28 of 68 control their consumer’s reflection (cf. 3.2.2). Furthermore in relation to a brand’s value propositions, the new market characteristics of post-recession have eliminated the premium brands’ opportunity to make use of a price candidate and hereby also the option to settle only with functional benefits as value proposition. Value propositions as emotional and self- expressive benefits are of much more importance when looking into the contextual framework, as creating an opportunity for consumers to express themselves through a brand supports postmodern consumer’s underlying intuition. Not being able to portray who one is, might in worst case cause consumers to switch to other brands that are able to allow them to express their self-images and provide them with longer lasting experiences (cf. 2.1; 2.2). Communicating brand identity further involves communicating both the core and extended values of the brand. According to both Aaker and Kapferer the core values function as the building block for differentiation, and hereto the brand is able to add on different values depending on the situation at hand, and position each sub-brand (product) to meet these core values. Thus the essence of the brand is supplemented with extended values, and hereby extended identities, that should evolve around societal and consumer changes. Doing so create possibilities for differentiation and is of great relevance for brands, especially those of premium position, on today’s market, needing to adapt to consumer changes (cf. 2.3). Focusing communication merely on the extended values further makes the brand more memorable to consumers (cf. 3.2.1). To put brand identity further into perspective it is important to implement a more cultural and contextual outlook as proposed by Holt, who does not argue directly against either Aaker or Kapferer, but adds to their thoughts by implementing a more cultural viewpoint (cf. 3.2.3). Holt states that the brand identity will benefit from being raised to iconic status through myths, for it to assist in building the strongest brand equity. In developing these myths, strong identity brands become able to react to challenges and tensions within society, and when society changes the myths need to change with it. The recent recession’s influence on the market functions as a disruption in society, demanding brands to adapt their strategies to shifting ideologies. In these post- recession times U.S. national ideologies are argued to have somewhat shifted. The underlying ideas of ‘the self-made man’ and ‘the fight for the homeland’ are still present, however the beliefs concerning wealth and status have changed. With the majority of the U.S. suffering from the recession, it is no longer well seen to show off luxury status as before. Thus in
  32. 32. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 29 of 68 regards to the context of consumer changes in today’s market, it is much beneficial for strong identity brands to create suitable myths, addressing changes and tensions within society, in order to enhance brand status – and hereby build brand equity. Within the context of this thesis another important part of building brand equity is the financial perspective, as further put forward by Kapferer. Usually organizations make use of cash flow parameters as indicators of performance (Strudwick). However in order to measure a more sufficient overall performance one must take accomplishments of the brand into consideration as well (Kapferer 9). The brand’s economic value is produced in the process of creating and communicating brand equity. Thus the above mentioned means to building brand equity; brand identity and myth, are of utter importance to predict and enhance, in order to form a unity between the intangible interpretations and tangible profits produced by the brand. As argued by Kapferer there is a conditional relation between brand assets and the brand economic value. This means that the brand identity discussed above, and thus the reflected consumer images, creates brand superiority and finally produce brand strength and thus economic value. In times of post-recession building brand equity is thus if great worth for the brand. As argued, this thesis does not see brand equity as a tool with only one right use, thus when looking at the concept of brand equity, within context, some aspects of the theories above may need to be revised. The concept of loyalty is referred to by Aaker as an important factor in establishing brand equity (cf. 3.2.1), however the contextual framework argues for consumers of today to be less bound to loyalty and wanting to have the opportunity to shift as they please and instead put trust in brands (cf. 2.3). So it is possible that loyalty does not hold the same importance as earlier, and will not be a base for competing in this changed postmodern marketplace. Nevertheless, this does not mean that loyalty is not beneficial for brands in the long-term, but to meet the needs of today’s consumers, brands must think more short-term, not including loyalty as a focus here and now. Consumers need to be convinced that the brand before them is able to fulfil their present needs, and brands must continually keep giving the consumers a reason for choosing their brand. In today’s market one could argue for consistency and trust to be a new form of loyalty. When choosing a brand, consumers must take the brand promise purely on trust, and on the basis of consistent brand equity – the
  33. 33. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 30 of 68 shared belief that this brand represents a certain lifestyle, seeing that the actual experience of the brand cannot be evaluated by consumers until after a complete purchase (Melewar & Sambrook 175). By placing focus on consistency in the process of building brand equity, brands are able to continuously convince consumers that their specific brand can meet consumer needs and wants. Hereby consistency will generate and enhance the trust that consumers must put in a brand promise, in order to initiate brand choices. In addition, Aaker states that brands with a strong equity have committed customers (cf. 3.2.1). The thesis does not argue against this, it merely suggests that due the characteristics of postmodern consumers and the post-recession market, using brand loyalty as a core in establishing brand equity is perhaps not as relevant, as consistency and trustworthiness being the confidence consumers place in the brand here and now. This part has discussed the most essential elements in building brand equity in relation to the contextual framework, and to provide the reader with a better overview of the revised concepts of brand equity within context, visualization of how they interlink is created below in figure 5. Figure 5: Brand Equity within context (own adaption of Aaker, Kapferer & Holt)
  34. 34. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 31 of 68 It is recognised that product attributes is a part of brand assets, however as stated above, the product cannot stand alone, and therefore this box is dashed in the visualization. Further brand identity is included as a vital part and basis for building brand equity, as mentioned the identity consist of both core and extended values. Reinforcing the product attributes with the brand identity creates associations, and guides consumer perceptions, and to further enhance these associations, a myth should be added to the brand identity, as it will raise it to an iconic status. As the importance of loyalty has been substituted with terms as consistency and trustworthiness, the box named consistency is included as an important element for attaining brand equity, which is then the last box. Surrounding this process is brand value, seeing that a way to measure on brand equity’s success is to look at the brand value created through the process of building this brand equity. In this section 3 the different approaches to brand equity have been accounted for, and a more contextual branding rationale has been provided, with the intention of illustrating the importance of building brand equity to gain superiority. This will be further employed in the following section; the empirical analysis of Audi’s success and communication of brand equity through its two latest Super Bowl commercials in 2010 and 2011.
  35. 35. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 32 of 68 4 EMPERICAL ANALYSIS This section constitutes the empirical analysis of Audi’s use of elements within brand equity, making use of the extracted theory from the previous section to answer the third research question; Being a premium brand how has Audi made use of the elements of brand equity discussed in section 3 to differentiate their brand in today’s market? (cf. 1.2.1). As mentioned in part 1.2.2 the Audi brand is chosen for analysis because of the recession’s influence on the automobile industry, and further because of Audi as a premium brand, needs to obtain superiority by other means than following the tendency of reducing prices. This section is initiated by an introduction to the Audi brand, followed by an analysis of two Audi commercials released at the U.S. Super Bowl in 2010 and 2011, an analysis on the discussed brand identity and iconic status through myths. These separate analyses are then united and completed with a reflection in connection with Audi’s establishment of further elements of brand equity discussed in part 3.3 and the brand’s accomplishments on the U.S. market. 4.1 Introducing the Audi Brand and Market Situation Audi is a part of the Volkswagen (VW) group, which is an umbrella brand and a classic practitioner of Porter’s generic strategies in terms of positioning; using separate brands and separate identities for each segment (Melewar & Sambrook 173) - the Audi brand represents VW in the premium market. Before the recession, Audi did not invest much towards branding on the U.S. market, and did not have any actual brand identity put forth (Hudson). Instead they made use of their products as a means of endorsers, a strategy not realistic when dealing with today’s complex postmodern consumer (cf. 3.3; Hudson). However, it is assumed that something must have changes since, as it is 42 years ago - and so it has. Even though that the automobile industry has been greatly influenced by recession times (cf. 1.2.2), and in 2009 auto specialists anticipated that the negative changes within premium car consumption would haunt car manufactures long past the recession (Tierney). It is Audi’s plan to increase sales on the U.S. market, by introducing new car models (Hudson 1). However, as discussed it is important also to promote the brand behind the products to
  36. 36. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 33 of 68 consumers, making them aware of the strong brand assets and values (cf. 3.3). This process Audi has started by introducing Super Bowl campaigns during the last couple of years, with focus on showing what Audi has to offer the individual consumer, in terms of quality and performance, but also in terms of self-image. To answer the problem statement the following analysis will comprise Audi’s 2010 and 2011 U.S. Super Bowl commercials Green Police and Release the Hounds. Both represent a sample of Audi’s newest integrated marketing efforts and are introducing new models, namely the Audi A3 TDI clean diesel, and Audi A8 luxury sedan respectively, and are further argued to put focus on brand assets and values. When brands consist of multiple products, as is the case with Audi, it is important that the different product’s positioning communicates the same core values of the brand (cf. 3.3). For the different sub-sets of the brand, and hereby the two commercials for analysis, to enhance brand equity they should communicate the extended brand values that are appropriate for the societal situation at hand, but also convey the core values for communication, in order not to stray from the brand’s essence. So before conducting the analysis it is important to look at Audi’s core brand values. These can be characterized as quality and performance via technological dominance, and the brand’s tagline; truth in engineering (Audi 1), meaning that consumers can rely on the Audi engineering to ensure quality. It is important to note that these core values hold no point of differentiation, as competitors such as Mercedes-Benz and BWM put forth similar values as the centre of their brand (BMW; Mercedes Benz). 4.2 Audi’s Super Bowl Commercials 2010 and 2011 The Super Bowl championship in the United States is known for its prestigious advertisements (The Asking Price). During the big game several brands have over the years paid large sums for a spot in one of the game’s four quarters, a spot that provides one of the best audiences and bring along sky-high expectations (ibid.). 4.2.1 Audi’s Big Game Commercial 2010 Green Police In 2010 Audi launched their third Super Bowl commercial, Green Police. After the commercial was launched at the big game, the internet discussion went sky-high; some loved the commercial and some hated it, but most of all many were confused (Montopoli). Regardless
  37. 37. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 34 of 68 the intention and the outcome “[…] the spot was effective: It was the only car ad to crack the top ten in USA Today's Ad Meter of most popular Super Bowl spots” (ibid.). Audi’s launch of the new A3 TDI clean diesel, uniting green and performance luxury in one car (Audi 2), sets the basis for the commercial and is thus assumed to be the reason why Audi takes a new angle to their communicative efforts; namely the environment. During the past years Audi’s advertising on the U.S. market has tended to be provocative, speculative and humorous (appendix 4), which is also the case in this commercial. However, none of the previous commercials, known to the authors of this thesis, has communicated this strong an environmental angle before. The commercial addresses a part of Audi’s commitment policy (Audi 3), and is thus a valid topic to communicate seeing that it can be argued to be a part of Audi’s extended brand identity. Communicating corporate responsibility can also be referred to as establishing ethos, a means of persuading ones audience by sender’s character (Aristotle). By communicating commitment to the environment, Audi hereby sets basis for a positive reputation amongst consumers, meaning that if consumers respect Audi for their stand on the environment, they might be more compelled to purchase the new A3 clean diesel. This communicative appeal is further supported by Gass and Seiter, who argue that ethical, moral and unselfish behaviour is a primary dimension in establishing trustworthiness and thus enhance credibility (77). Thus by referring to the organizational attributes Audi manages to enhance the trust in the brand. In relation to the contextual framework Audi manages to adapt to consumers’ demand for green and eco-friendly products. This consumer behaviour trend, which has survived the recession, still plays an important component in consumer decision making and thus function as a vehicle for generation brand equity and subsequently brand value. In today’s market it is a must to reflect differentiation, as rising competition and less consumption has proven to have great effects on spending (cf. 2.3). In order to break away from the standard and somewhat trivial ‘we care about the environment’ statements, Audi has incorporated a humoristic angle to ensure uniqueness and attention. According to Gass and Seiter using humour is first of all a driver for creating attention, however humour also tend to “suppress critical thinking” and thus enhance the chances of persuading the viewer to engage in cognitive elaboration about the commercials’ content and message (278). Another gain by
  38. 38. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 35 of 68 using humour is that it contributes to a positive feeling about sender and thus confines the chances for psychological reactance3 to occur (ibid.). This next part will run through the scenes of the commercial, and the following mentions of timeframes are with reference to the commercial (Green Police). In the first scene [0:00-0:10], the viewer becomes acquainted with the new green police when an officer arrests a guy in a supermarket for deciding upon a plastic instead of a paper bag. Until the green police enter the shot there is no music, but as soon as the representative from the green police performs the arrest the music starts. The song is an old tune from the classic American rock band Cheap Trick, and reinforces the humorous appeal, repeating how the green police is constantly watching over you and coming to arrest you. For this not to be misinterpreted, as if Audi is trying to tell you what to do, the song is further very upbeat contributing to tone down any possible tensions shaped by the green police and their role as law enforcers. The role of music in advertising is found to have a positive effect on the recall of product attributes (Gorn 95), thus Audi gains from incorporating Cheap Trick’s music. Further, if people are interested in acquiring a product, they are more likely to pay attention to the product features put forth. Thus it can be argued that this commercial is more persuasive with regards to people whom are not in the intended process of buying a car, as it focuses merely on non-product attributes. In the second scene [0:11-0:15] the green police ransacks garbage cans at a suburban street, where stumbling upon a battery makes them take action upon the house in question. In the third scene [0:15-0:22], a police helicopter spots a polluter in his kitchen, in the action of carrying out a horrible sin; not composting an orange. In the fourth scene [0:23-0:31], the green police takes action against a rich guy who does not use energy-saving light bulbs. Within this scene we come across a very careless and unconcerned attitude from the accused, symbolizing environmental neglect. Then a news-correspondent reports the incident to the viewers as a true reporter would on the 5 o’clock news. In the fifth scene [0:32-0:39], an officer from the green police busts two young guys for the immoral act of possessing plastic bottles, and as a protest, the officer pours out the water, as a lesson for them not to buy plastic bottles again. In the second to last scene [0:33-0:39], the green police goes after a couple in 3 Psychological reactance is “the tendency to react defensively to perceived encroachments on our freedom, […] also known as reverse psychology” (Brehm in Gass and Seiter, 63)
  39. 39. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 36 of 68 their spa for the crime of overheating their water to a level past the acceptable, here the offender takes off and a chase sets in. In the last scene [0:40-0:55], the green police has set up a roadblock, searching for cars that are polluting, and thus not allowed to pass on. An officer walks up to an Audi, while saying to an incoming colleague; “we’ve got a TDI clean diesel here” where after he responds “a clean diesel, you’re good to go sir” [0:44-0:46]. The Audi then pulls out from the tailback and straight past the roadblock. Here, the commercial further incorporates Audi’s well used provocative strategy by suggesting that the new Audi A3 is superior in comparison to other cars. After this a text appears stating; “Green has never felt so right” followed by another shot of the Audi driving away and then a text stating “green car of the year – Audi A3 TDI, clean diesel” followed by the Audi logo and slogan; truth in engineering [0:48]. In the very end, after this tagline, there is a short scene [0:56-1:00] where an officer from the green police approaches a police car and lectures them on the use of the foam coffee cups in which they are drinking from. Throughout the commercial there is, as described, no relation to the actual product, until in the end where the Audi A3 pulls out of the tailback [0:48]. Here the A3’s headlights can be argued to be a represented participant4 in the commercial, taking position as human character (Kress and van Leeuwen 188). Considering the headlights as a participant, the commercial at this moment establishes a clear connection between the viewer and the sender, seeing that the gaze of the headlights is focussed directly at the viewer. This gaze demands that “the viewer enter into some kind of imaginary relation with […] [the car, and hereby Audi]” (ibid.). However it is argued that in this situation the demand does not try to force for the viewer to buy the car, but instead for them to know that when driving an Audi one supports the environment, as the Audi A3 TDI was voted green car of the year in 2010. Looking at the overall orientation of the Green Police, it can be argued that Audi uses a part of the extended brand identity as well as their core values to communicate with the viewers, being the right way to go about creating a strong brand identity (cf. 3.3). As stated earlier, focus in this commercial is on the organizational concern for the environment, which is a part 4 According to Kress and van Leeuwen ”represented participants who look at the viewer are usually human (or animal), but not always: the headlights of car can be draws as eyes looking at the viewer” (118).
  40. 40. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 37 of 68 of Audi’s extended identity. Hereby Audi makes use of brand identity in form of Aaker’s brand as organization and Kapferer’s culture (cf. 3.2.1; 3.2.2). However this is not the only brand identity characteristic put forth. The product attributes are indirectly communicated via the organizational attributes seeing that the Audi is allowed to proceed from the car-queue, symbolizing that Audi has adapted engineering elements so that this model is more eco- friendly. Technological performance and quality, both part of Audi’s core values, are further communicated as the quality of the car is upgraded so that it fits the demand from society. In accordance with the concept of reflection (cf. 3.3), Audi communicates that by choosing this new model, the consumers take an eco-friendly stand towards the environment, and are thus able to feel good about their driving. Hence this commercial presents the Audi brand as a reflection of what consumers would like to be. In addition to the Audi advocates who are in fact eco-friendly by nature, concern for the environment can also function as an image shield, allowing consumers to hide behind this feature, when justifying the purchase of an Audi. Having argued that this commercial allows consumers to hide behind the shield of environmental concern does not indicate that some consumers would not use this communicative message as a way to express their actual self, meaning that their concern for the environment might be a true characteristic of their persona. Thus Audi provides reason to buy via self-expression, for both eco-friendly advocates, as well as those who favour Audi due to their high standards on quality and design. Providing an opportunity for self-expression goes well with the characteristics of today’s postmodern consumers (cf. 2.3), whom, despite being more thoughtful with regards to spending, still act upon self-expressive benefits. Besides the self-expressive benefits provided, it can be argued that Audi also provides the functional attribute of a fuel efficient engine. In conclusion, choosing Audi is thus for both types of consumers; the ones that wishes to reflect a desired identity, and the ones that aspire to match their true identity based on their choice of brand. Thus, focusing on the organizational attributes; concern for the environment holds double function as it can satisfy both consumer types. Audi has further managed to develop at myth, as the brand addresses cultural tensions, such as environmental changes, and thus delivers purpose in consumer’ lives. Via a fictional myth about the green police Audi address consumer tensions and give them an opportunity to help
  41. 41. BACHELOR IN LANGUAGE AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Tine Grarup Degree in Marketing and Management Communication Louise Dahlerup Sørensen May 2011 Page 38 of 68 save the environment. The commercial is constructed based on part of the U.S. population which fight for the environment, making the green police a reflection of these authentic groups within society. Doing so the myth in this commercial provides consumers with an imaginary connection to these groups in society (Holt 59), so even though consumers who watch the commercial may not be a part of these groups, they can now take part on an imaginary level. This further supports the above argument stating that not all consumers purchase the new Audi model on the basis of a genuine interest in the environment. 4.2.2 Audi’s Big Game Commercial 2011 Release the Hounds Audi’s Release the Hounds commercial was revealed during the 2011 Super Bowl, and set to kick of the big game. Once again Audi delivers a fearless and humorous Super Bowl spot, this time daring the viewer to rethink luxury. To build up interest two teaser videos were introduced prior to Super Bowl, both centred around the luxury prison, setting the scene for the big game commercial (Audi 4), and give consumers an illustration of life inside and creating a curiosity for the upcoming big game commercial. The first teaser Startled Smart shows the viewer how inmates from luxury prison have a talk with some ‘at-risk’ young people seeking luxurious lifestyles, to teach them a lesson about the consequences of an opulent lifestyle (Startled Smart). The second teaser presents the world famous 1980’s saxophonist Kenny G as the prison’s riot suppressor, being in charge of playing his soft songs to calm down the inmates when they get out of hand. A teaser ending with the statement: “on February 6, 2011, Luxury Prison will need Kenny G more than ever” (Riot Suppressor [2:41]) further creating a curiosity for the big game commercial, which takes place at this date. His soft music is moreover used in the big game commercial Release the Hounds and chosen with the attempt to create emotional relations to the viewer/listener and bring them back to the 1980’s decade, emphasizing the old luxury theme (Audi 4). These emotional relations are further beneficial for creating a stronger brand identity, as they provide value for the brand (cf. 3.3). Through these teasers Audi add to the building of interest and expectations, in the hope that consumers would be longing to find out what new car model will be introduced and what role it has in the commercial to come. Hereby Audi also create consistency between the teasers and the big game commercial. Another commercial was put on air the days up to the super Bowl 2011, as a prelude to the upcoming big game commercial. The commercial titled Goodnight was inspired by the Goodnight Moon, 1947 children’s book, and took the viewer on