Reverse product placement, fictional brands and purchase intention:Fancy a coffee with Friends in ‘Central Perk’?


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fictional brands are brands that exist only in the world of fiction and not the real physical
world.reverse product placement consists of transforming these fictional brands into products
and services in the real physical world.this paper posits that consumers,despite having no preexisting
experience of fictional brands in the real world, may develop positive attitudes towards
fictional brands; hence the fundamental managerial question is to ascertain whether these
positive attitudes can drive purchase intention to justify the investment into a real product or
service based on the fictional brand. using two fictional service brands, ‘Maclaren’s Pub’ and
‘Central Perk’, featured respectively in How I Met Your Mother and Friends, this study confirms
the existence of protobrands, and shows that attitudes towards a fictional brand are driven by
perceived service quality, identification with the brand and attitudes towards the television
programme. the study goes on to provide evidence that attitudes towards the fictional brand
can influence purchase intention of a future defictionalised brand in the real world.the paper
contributes to product placement and branding literature in a new emerging area.

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Reverse product placement, fictional brands and purchase intention:Fancy a coffee with Friends in ‘Central Perk’?

  1. 1. 399399 International Journal of advertising, 32(3), pp. 399–417 © 2013 advertising association Published by Warc, doI: 10.2501/IJa-32-3-399-417 Fancy a coffee with Friends in ‘Central Perk’? Reverse product placement, fictional brands and purchase intention laurent Muzellec University College Dublin, Ireland Christopher Kanitz University of Bremen, Germany theodore lynn Dublin City University, Ireland fictional brands are brands that exist only in the world of fiction and not the real physical world.reverse product placement consists of transforming these fictional brands into products and services in the real physical world.this paper posits that consumers,despite having no pre- existing experience of fictional brands in the real world,may develop positive attitudes towards fictional brands; hence the fundamental managerial question is to ascertain whether these positive attitudes can drive purchase intention to justify the investment into a real product or service based on the fictional brand. using two fictional service brands, ‘Maclaren’s Pub’ and ‘Central Perk’, featured respectively in How I Met Your Mother and Friends, this study confirms the existence of protobrands, and shows that attitudes towards a fictional brand are driven by perceived service quality, identification with the brand and attitudes towards the television programme. the study goes on to provide evidence that attitudes towards the fictional brand can influence purchase intention of a future defictionalised brand in the real world.the paper contributes to product placement and branding literature in a new emerging area. Introduction Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind. Walter Landor this quote, attributed to Walter landor, suggests that brands may be created following a process independent from the manufacturing of a product or the design of a service offer- ing. the psychology-based approach of brand equity partially recognises this contention, and also holds that brand equity exists when consumers have high levels of familiarity
  2. 2. 400 InternatIonal Journal of advertIsIng, 2013, 32(3) with a brand with strong, unique and favourable brand associations (Keller 1993, 2008; aaker & Joachimsthaler 2000). Hence the ultimate goal of branding is to capture a share of the mind of potential consumers (ries & trout 2001; stern 2006). for most brands, creating images in the minds of consumers is subsequent to the manufacturing or service delivery process, and is undifferentiated from other elements of the marketing mix. However, brand marketers may sometimes leverage brand images that already exist in the minds of consumers. this technique is instrumental in the success of retro-branding, where marketers circulate heritage stories and allegories that tap in to the nostalgic psyche of consumers (Brown et al. 2003; Holt 2004). fictional brands may also be another avenue for brand marketers to leverage existing ‘brand’ images prior to the launch of a new product or service. fictional brands are brands that do not exist in the real world yet, may possess strong and unique associations in the mind of viewers, and are cre- ated in fictional media platforms (Muzellec et al. 2012). Muzellec et al. (2012) posit that a proportion of fictional brands may have commercial potential, especially if they possess the two key features of customer-based brand equity, i.e. brand salience (awareness) and posi- tive brand associations. a number of fictional brands have crossed over from the fictional world in which they initially reside to become real products. since 2007, ‘duff’ – a beer brand featured in the animated television series The Simpsons – has been available for con- sumption in europe. In 2011, ‘avion tequila’, from the HBo television series Entourage, was also defictionalised and is now available as a real product in new York bars. More recently, a fictional brand, ‘dunder Mifflin’ paper (originally a fictional brand in television series The Office), was advertised during the 2013 superbowl.this phenomenon has been referred to as ‘reverse product placement’, the placement of initially fictional brands in a real market environment (edery 2006; Wasserman 2007). Commentators have suggested that this strategy could be used as a means for launching brands at significantly lower costs than creating new brands from first principles (edery 2006). the literature on product placement holds that product placement may drive purchase intention (Balasubramanian et al. 2006) but so far no research has examined whether atti- tudes towards fictional brands could drive purchase of real product/services. this paper aims to address this gap in the literature by proposing and testing a model that exposes the antecedents (namely attitudes towards the brands, perceived quality and brand identifica- tion) and consequences of the attitudes towards fictional service brands. It focuses on two fictional service brands from the television programmes How I Met Your Mother and Friends. the paper’s structure is as follows. first, the conceptual foundations are outlined and a model is presented. the paper then details the methodology and presents the results of an online questionnaire with 926 valid responses. the paper ends with a discussion of managerial and theoretical implications from our results. Conceptual foundation and model development the subject of our study is novel, necessitating the definition of the object (fictional brands) and the phenomenon (reverse product placement) under investigation.a fictional brand is a non-existent brand used in artistic or entertainment productions – paintings,
  3. 3. 401 fanCY a Coffee WItH FRIENDS In ‘Central PerK’? books, comics, movies, tv serials, etc. the fictional brand may be designed to imitate a real corporate brand, satirise a real corporate brand or differentiate itself from real corpo- rate brands (andersen & gray 2008). Hence, initially, fictional brands were created either because corporations were unwilling to license their brand names for use in the fictional work, particularly where the work holds the product in a negative light (lehu 2007) or because the content creator was unwilling to feature real brands in their artistic produc- tions. By way of example, Quentin tarantino has made use of a number of fictional brand names, such as Big Kahuna Burger, a fictional Hawaiian-themed fast-food restaurant, or red apple Cigarettes, a fictional cigarette brand. Muzellec and lynn (2010) have posited that fictional brands may be used for commercial purposes through the process of foment- ing a brand aura entirely in the abstract and the virtual,but capturing the imagination and emotional attachment of real consumers. they labelled this phenomenon ‘brand preces- sion’ as the virtual brand precedes the real and is not necessarily dependent on a physical existence to generate commercial value. others have labelled this phenomenon reverse product placement (edery 2006). Product placement is based on well-developed concepts and a large body of empirical results (Balasubramanian et al. 2006; lee et al. 2011; van reijmersdal 2011). one of the benefits of product placement is the fact that audiences appreciate the realism that real brands bring to a movie (lee et al. 2011). In other words, the practice of product place- ment is about bringing the reality of products/brands into an abstract fictional world when reverse product placement is exactly the opposite, i.e. bringing to life in the real world an imaginary brand (Muzellec et al. 2012). this study assesses both the antecedents and outcomes of fictional brand placement in order to assess the potential of those brands as future real services. In order to build such a model, the paper draws on two well-established streams of literature: product placement and branding.the product placement literature and the branding literature both integrate several factors that might influence attitudes towards a brand and conative outcomes (Balasubramanian et al. 2006; de gregorio & sung 2010). this paper specifically high- lights the importance of attitudes towards the television programme in which the fictional service brand is presented, perceived fictional service quality, and identification with the fictional service brand as drivers of attitudinal and conative outcomes (as measured by intention to purchase). the traditional branding literature posits that corporate associations or corporate images of the makers or service provider influence customers’ perceptions of a brand and in particular associations relating to the company’s capabilities for producing goods and delivering services (Brown & dacin 1997; Berry 2000; Muzellec & lambkin 2007). for fictional brands, the television programme within which the brand is created is the maker of the brand and could therefore be equated to the corporate (master) brand. the product placement and advertising literature also assume that attitudes towards a placed product may be affected by a television programme genre, type and programme induced mood. In fact, early studies showed that ‘happy’ television programmes, such as tv sitcoms, produce happier moods and greater perceived advertising effective- ness (goldberg & gorn 1987). russell (2002) also posits that affect may transfer from
  4. 4. 402 InternatIonal Journal of advertIsIng, 2013, 32(3) television programme to placed products. the audience of a popular television series is exposed to the programme content over several months and seasons – exposure that is compounded by reruns.during this period,a connection between the viewer and the tele- vision programme develops (russell et al. 2004; Patino et al. 2011). several studies show that television programmes influence viewers’ emotional experience, and may generate a positive feeling and evaluation of brands placed or advertised during the programme (e.g. Murry et al. 1992). this relationship can be explained by the depiction of possible con- sumption patterns through the social roles and lifestyles of the characters using the prod- ucts or services in the television programme, which may influence viewers’ consumption patterns (Bang & sanchez 2002; Morton & friedman 2002). Hence, the connectedness between the television programme viewers and the placed products or service can arise from aspiration, modelling, imitation, fashion or even escape (russell et al. 2004). the overall connectedness can be understood as an attitudinal evaluation of the television pro- gramme. Hence, it is logical to posit a similar transfer between the television programme and the fictional brand, and subsequently the real product.the hypothesis, H1, facilitates the proposed relationship between the attitude towards the television programme and the attitude towards the fictional service brand (russell & stern 2006): H1: attitude towards a television programme has a positive influence on attitude towards a fictional service brand. the second identified antecedent of attitudes towards fictional brands is perceived fic- tional service quality. Consumer choice of service is driven by the service value,which comprises service price (e.g. nowlis & simonson 1997; tse 2001) and service quality (Parasuraman et al. 1991; Berry 2000; Hess et al. 2003; lin et al. 2009).In the context of fictional brands,the service does not exist; hence the price variable is difficult to perceive – especially if no indication of the price level of fictional products or services within the television programme is given. Hence, in the context of fictional service brands, the perceived quality of the (service) brand is a variable that can be used to determine future consumer choice. several studies show that perceived quality of the service has a positive impact on the overall evaluation of the brand (Berry 2000; Hess et al. 2003; dens & de Pelsmacker 2010). for fictional service brands, this perceived quality of the service can be witnessed only through the programming context.viewers cannot experience the real service,yet they are in an observation position and can therefore make judgements about the quality of the service being delivered within the television programme. It is important to get a picture of the past service and also the service recovery to provide a proper service evaluation (Hess et al. 2003). Watching a television programme over several seasons provides a good oppor- tunity for such an evaluation. notwithstanding this, not all service brands may possess the positive brand associations necessary to build strong brand equity to justify an investment for defictionalisation. ‘oceanic airlines’, for example, plays a central role in the television series Lost and is also used in other television series such as Desperate Housewives and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, among others. While it is a recognisable brand, in the context of
  5. 5. 403 fanCY a Coffee WItH FRIENDS In ‘Central PerK’? television programming this fictional service brand is used for a specific narrative purpose: ‘oceanic airlines’ planes almost systematically crash or have serious flight incidents. It is reasonable to assume that perceived service quality for such a fictional airline would be low, and would result in negative attitudes towards the brand and an associated low purchase intention. Conversely, one might posit that a high-quality perception of a fictional service brand would have a positive impact on attitudes towards a fictional service brand: H2: Perceived quality of a fictional service has a positive influence on attitude towards a fictional service brand. Identification with a fictional brand may also be considered as an antecedent of attitude towards a fictional brand. While watching a television programme, a connection between the spectator and the television programme, and often also between the spectator and the main characters of the programme, develops (russell 2002; russell et al. 2004). this may result in viewers imitating the behaviours of characters in the television programme, e.g. fans may speak like or dress themselves as characters from the programme (russell et al. 2004). this phenomenon may be extended to the consumption of the brands fea- tured within a television programme and associated with favoured characters. for real brands, this topic has been discussed extensively in the product placement literature (e.g. Balasubramanian et al. 2006). reverse product placement suggests that viewers may also consume fictional brands featured in a television programme. the identification with a brand is sometimes referred to as self-connection (aaker et al. 2004). self-connection ‘indicates strength through activation of the person’s identity system and contained items capturing the degree to which the relationship delivered on centrally held identity themes, or helped express real and collective selves’ (aaker et al. 2004, p. 7). therefore, the self- connection is seen as an emotional attachment to a certain brand, and refers to a strong fit between the identity of the brand and the person’s identity (aron et al. 2000).this emo- tional attachment is strongly linked with the main characters in television programmes and the brands they use. In conventional product placement literature, an influence of the emotional attachment to a brand placed and used in a television programme on the over- all evaluation of the brand was proven (russell & stern 2006). thus, in reverse product placement, the identification with a fictional brand, understood as emotional attachment to a fictional brand, should also have a positive impact on the overall evaluation of the brand. Hence, hypothesis H3 facilitates the proposed relationship between identification with a fictional service brand and attitude towards a fictional service brand: H3: Identification with a fictional service brand has a positive influence on attitude towards a fictional service brand. finally, multiple studies have shown that the attitude towards a brand has an influence on the behavioural intentions of consumers (Keller & aaker 1992). specifically, research suggests that attitudes towards a brand have a positive and significant effect on purchase intention (e.g. Mitchell & olson 1981; gresham & shimp 1985; ailawadi et al. 2001). In
  6. 6. 404 InternatIonal Journal of advertIsIng, 2013, 32(3) addition, marketing practitioners and academics claim that, under certain conditions, prod- uct placement increases sales and purchase intention (Balasubramanian et al. 2006; lehu 2007; lin & Cho 2010). applied to fictional brands, this implies a relationship between attitude towards a fictional service brand and purchase intention of a fictional service brand: H4: attitude towards a fictional service brand has a positive influence on purchase intention of a fictional service brand. Hypotheses H1 to H4 are summarised by the structural framework shown in figure 1. Methodology the empirical tests comprise two stages. In the first stage, we conducted a pre-test to obtain baseline evidence about the awareness of the fictional service brands and their ori- gins, which are used in our framework. Building on the initial evidence from the pre-test, we then performed the second stage of the analysis, which is a quantitative evaluation of the structural model. the main study was conducted to test hypotheses H1 to H4 using a structural equation modelling (seM) approach (Bagozzi & Yi 2012). Pre-test High level of familiarity and exposure to a brand is a necessary condition to the effective- ness of product placement as well as positive attitudes towards the brand (low & lamb 2000).this may also be true for reverse product placements (Muzellec et al.2012).Hence, participants in the survey need to be familiar with the fictional brands and with the tele- vision programme within which the brands are being placed. as such, a three-step pre- study was conducted to investigate fictional brand awareness.In the first step,a survey was Figure 1: Structural model with hypotheses H2(+) H3(+) H1(+) H4(+)Attitude towards the TV programme (ATV) Identification with the fictional service brand (IDB) Perceived service quality (PQB) Purchase intention of the fictional service brand (PIB) Attitude towards the fictional service brand (AFB)
  7. 7. 405 fanCY a Coffee WItH FRIENDS In ‘Central PerK’? conducted resulting in a list of more than 100 fictional brands. as a result of a qualitative survey the majority of those fictional brands featured on the list have been identified as not well known to the general public; 13 fictional product and service brands from ten television programmes or movies were pre-selected in that first step. In step 2 of the pre-study, these brands were presented to a convenience sample of undergraduate students. the suitability of student samples in advertising research has been challenged as several authors state that students differ in important ways from the populations typically of interest to researchers (e.g. James & sonner 2001). But, still, stu- dents are an important target group for international advertising due to their high degree of education and their probable international orientation (Backhaus et al. 2001). student samples have been used extensively in product placement studies (nebenzahl & secunda 1993; gupta, Balasubramanian & Klassen 2000; sung et al. 2009). a sample size of N = 252 college students was composed conducting the pre-study.the participants were asked to answer two questions: 1. the first question was focused on the awareness of the fictional origin (e.g. television programme or movie): ‘Do you know the following TV show/movie: _______?’ 2. the second question was focused on the awareness of the fictional brand: ‘Do you know the following brand _______ within the TV show/movie: _______?’ the answers to the pre-study were analysed by examining the level of brand awareness of the television programmes or movies as well as the fictional brands. as a result, six cases with a high brand awareness of the origin as well as the actual fictional brand were identi- fied: ‘Moe’s tavern’,‘duff Beer’(The Simpsons),‘Maclaren’s Pub’,‘goliath national Bank’ (How I Met Your Mother), ‘Central Perk’ (Friends) and ‘Bertie Bott’s every flavour Beans’ (Harry Potter) (see table 1). Table 1: Summary of pre-study results Fictional brand Origin of fictional brand Awareness of brand Awareness of origin Moe’s Tavern The Simpsons 0.877 1.000 Duff Beer The Simpsons 0.873 1.000 MacLaren’s Pub How I Met Your Mother 0.839 0.960 Goliath National Bank How I Met Your Mother 0.802 0.960 Central Perk Café Friends 0.784 0.992 Bertie Bott’s Every Flavoured Beans Harry Potter 0.746 1.000 Bubba Gump Shrimps Forrest Gump 0.351 0.960 ACME Looney Tunes 0.291 0.940 Booty Sweat Tropic Thunder 0.219 0.290 Big Kahuna Burger Pulp Fiction 0.213 0.968 Cyberdyne Corp. Terminator 0.112 0.603 Slurm Futurama 0.108 0.623 Red Apple Cigarettes Pulp Fiction 0.086 0.968
  8. 8. 406 InternatIonal Journal of advertIsIng, 2013, 32(3) finally, the relevant brands were structured. each case was reviewed to assess whether the brand, as presented, was positive or negative. If negative, the brand was removed as the potential for brand equity was limited by this factor ab initio. on this basis, ‘goliath national Bank’from How I Met Your Mother was removed, as the brand symbolises a ‘bad’ bank in a fun and entertaining way. this example can be compared with the aforemen- tioned ‘oceanic airlines’ brand. as a result only five brands were considered for further exploration.these five fictional brands were structured by a 2 × 2 matrix with the dimen- sions ‘category’ (product vs service) and ‘movie/programme type’ (animated vs non-animated origin) as shown in figure 2. Main study this study focuses on non-animated fictional service brands in situational comedy televi- sion programmes. service brands often play a major role within a television programme due to their use as a primary setting for the television programme. this ensures con- tinuous and repetitive exposure. In both Friends and How I Met Your Mother (hereinafter referred to as HIMYM), a café (‘Central Perk’) and a bar (‘Maclaren’s Pub’), respectively, are the core settings for much of the television programmes and as such are the focus for our main study. Procedure and sampling once the fictional brands for the main study were chosen, we proceeded to design a ques- tionnaire aimed at an international audience.the main questionnaire,which was based on the applied constructs,was set up in english and then translated into german and french. Figure 2: Systemisation of fictional brands Category Movie/programmetype Products Services Central Perk Café (Friends) McLaren’s Pub (How I MetYour Mother) Bertie Bott’s Every Flavoured Beans (Harry Potter) Duff Beer (The Simpsons) Moe’s Tavern (The Simpsons) Non-animated Animated
  9. 9. 407 fanCY a Coffee WItH FRIENDS In ‘Central PerK’? a non-probability convenience sample was employed to elicit data from a snowball sample of respondents interested in either one of the two investigated tv programmes.this form of sampling is often used when it is impossible to identify beforehand all those who might fall into the project’s category of interest (Hall & Hall 1996; Winkler & Buckner 2006). this is the case, as only respondents interested in the tv programmes and knowing the tv programme as well as the placed fictional service brand can be further considered. one of the problems with using snowball sampling is the fact that it is unlikely to obtain a representative sample, because there is no real control of the snowball effect (Winkler & Buckner 2006). therefore, only respondents within the advertising-relevant target group of 18 until 49 years were further considered. the online questionnaire was initially sent via email and social networking sites to respondents in four different coun- tries: france, germany, Ireland and the us. the respondents were incentivised to pass on the questionnaire to their social network and to participate themselves in the study through entry in a lottery to win a dvd box set of either HIMYM or Friends. each questionnaire (english, french and german) had one winner. as the questionnaire was distributed online and through social networking sites, there is no information as to how many people received the survey link.therefore, response rates cannot be calculated. the main qualification for the sample was the brand knowledge of the participants. the participants were surveyed on their familiarity with the television programmes Friends and HIMYM, and the brands ‘Central Perk’and ‘Maclaren’s Pub’using a 7-point likert scale where 1 represented ‘not at all’and 7 represented ‘very well’. If the rating on either scale was below 3 for either the origin or the brand, meaning awareness would be very remote or non-existent, they were excluded from the sample. due to the length of the questionnaire – the duration of which was on average 10 min- utes – and to avoid dependencies between the answers of the two brands, the order of the fictional brands were randomised. In addition, items for each construct were randomised, thus lowering the likelihood of dependencies between the answers for the items. Before analysing the data, the whole dataset was cleaned. this comprised three steps. first, the questionnaires were separated into two datasets based on the television pro- gramme, i.e. Friends or HIMYM. of 969 questionnaires, 1,895 cases (966 for HIMYM and 929 for Friends) were extracted. second, all responses without any data relating to the knowledge of the television programme or the fictional brand were excluded.all responses with little or no knowledge of the television programme or the fictional brand were excluded, as well. this procedure excluded 668 (35.3%) cases (396 for HIMYM and 272 for Friends) from the sample.finally,all questionnaires with too many missing values (more than 10%) were eliminated.this procedure excluded 301 (15.9%) cases (118 for HIMYM and 183 for Friends) from the sample.table 2 summarises the data cleaning of the sample. the final sample comprised 926 cases (452 for HIMYM and 474 for Friends). five major clusters were considered based on geographic location: france (326 cases, 35.2%), germany (242 cases, 26.1%), the uK/Ireland (138 cases, 14.9%), the us (111 cases, 12.0%) and the rest of the world (109 cases, 11.8%). the final sample was composed of 52.7% women and 47.3% men. the age range was from 18 to 49 years (advertising- relevant target group).
  10. 10. 408 InternatIonal Journal of advertIsIng, 2013, 32(3) Measures all scales were drawn from previous research. a list of all the factors and measured items can be seen in table 3. Dependent variables attitude towards brand (afB) has been investigated by a substantial amount of stud- ies. Many different combinations of items have been used and tested. for the context of fictional service brands, items with a good fit for services needed to be defined. ‘Like/ dislike’, ‘good/bad’ and in the case of the setting’s atmosphere, ‘pleasant/unpleasant’, were deemed suitable descriptors of our service-oriented measurement. this scale had already been used by other studies in the context of advertising research and proved highly reli- able (Mitchell 1986; griffith & Chen 2004). the construct was measured on a 7-point semantic differential scale (griffith & Chen 2004). Concerning the outcome variable, the purchase intention (PIB) was based on stafford (1998) and stafford et al. (2002). they investigated consumer attitudes and advertising perceptions in a service context. the scale used was initially called ‘conative attitude toward the ad’ (stafford 1998). We used a three-item scale: I would like to try this pub; I would actively seek out this pub (in my city in order to buy a drink); I would patronise this pub. other product-orientated studies,especially within advertising research, referred to a similar scale (neese & taylor 1994; griffith & Chen 2004).the construct was measured on a 7-point likert scale (stafford et al. 2002). Independent variables the first independent variable was attitude towards the television programme (atv).the attitude towards the television programme measures the overall evaluation of a television programme (russell 2002; russell et al. 2004). However, the items used by russell (2002) introduce localisation issues in the research context for this paper. for example, the item ‘favourable/unfavourable’ cannot be translated into german and french, and therefore was replaced with ‘pleasant/unpleasant’.this three-item scale of semantic differentials was also used in different studies concerning the attitude to a specific object, and proved reliable (griffith & Chen 2004).the second independent variable is the perceived service quality Table 2: Data cleaning How I Met Your Mother Friends Total Number of questionnaires 969 Number of cases 966 929 1,895 Elimination 1) Knowledge of TV show/brand 396 272 668 2) Missing values (<0.10) 118 183 301 Eliminated cases 514 455 969 Considered cases 452 474 926
  11. 11. 409 fanCY a Coffee WItH FRIENDS In ‘Central PerK’? Table3:Scaleitemsforconstructmeasurement Constructname/itemsMean Standard deviation Cronbach’s alpha Composite reliability Averagevariance extracted Factor loading Item reliability AttitudetowardstheTVshow(Russell2002;Griffith&Chen2004; Mitchell1986;Yi1990) Like/dislike0.910.82 Good/bad0.930.86 Pleasant/unpleasant0.930.87 Perceivedservicequality(Taylor&Baker1994;Bansaletal.2005) Ibelievethatthegeneralqualityof‘MacLaren’sPub’s’servicesislow0.820.67 Overall,Iconsider‘MacLaren’sPub’s’servicestobeexcellent0.870.75 Thequalityof‘MacLaren’sPub’s’servicesseemstobegenerallyhigh0.870.76 Attitudetowardsthebrand(Griffith&Chen2004;Mitchell1986;Yi1990) Like/dislike0.910.82 Good/bad0.930.87 Pleasant/unpleasant0.900.81 Purchaseintention(Stafford1998;Staffordetal.2002) Iwouldliketotrythispub0.750.57 Iwouldactivelyseekoutthispub(inmycityinordertobuyadrink)0.750.56 Iwouldpatronisethispub0.680.47
  12. 12. 410 InternatIonal Journal of advertIsIng, 2013, 32(3) of the fictional service brand. as a service brand is different from a product brand, service measurements need to be applied. taylor and Baker (1994) and Bansal et al. (2005) used a three-item scale to measure global service quality. We adapted the scale into the context of fictional brands and used a 7-point likert scale to measure the construct (taylor & Baker 1994; Bansal et al. 2005). the last independent variable is the identification with the fictional service brand previously measured by aaker et al. (2004) using a five-item scale.they referred to it as a measurement of self-connection, which can be interpreted as identification with the brand, as explained previously. these items were measured in our study using a 7-point likert scale, as proposed (aaker et al. 2004). each measurement item is presented in table 3 and includes relevant factor charac- teristics, such as mean, standard deviation, Cronbach’s alpha, composite reliability, average variance extracted (ave), factor loadings and item reliabilities for all scales (fornell & larcker 1981; Hair et al. 2010; Bagozzi & Yi 2012). all scales had a sufficient reliabil- ity for all constructs (e.g. Cronbach’s alpha and composite reliabilities are between 0.77 and 0.95). furthermore, all item reliabilities are above the recommended value of 0.40 (Bagozzi & Baumgartner 1994).the variance extracted was above 0.40 for each construct, giving evidence of convergent validity (Bagozzi & Yi 2012). to assess convergent and discriminant validity of our construct operationalisations, we conducted a confirmatory factor analysis (Cfa) using aMos 16.0. the overall results were: rMsea = 0.07, CfI = 0.96, gfI = 0.93, IfI = 0.96 and tlI = 0.96. Considering the sample size and the number of parameters estimated,these results suggest the measure- ment models are an acceptable fit to the data (Baumgartner & Homburg 1996; Hair et al. 2010; Bagozzi & Yi 2012).We assessed the discriminant validity of the construct measures using the criterion proposed by fornell and larcker (1981). It suggests that discriminant validity is supported if the average variance extracted (ave) exceeds the squared correla- tion between all pairs of constructs. all pairs of constructs met this criterion. Analysis and results as the differences between the investigated geographic region clusters are rather low, focus will be given to the overall examination of cross-geography study results. results of the analyses are presented in table 4 and discussed below. Independent variables Concerning the attitudinal construct, the attitude towards the television programme (atv) had a strong positive effect on the overall attitude towards the fictional brand (b = 0.450,t = 14.979,p < 0.001).the result,consistent with H1,indicates a strong connection between the fictional origin and the fictional brand. Consistent with H2, we also show that the perceived quality of the fictional service brand (PQB) had a strong positive effect on the overall attitude towards the brand (b = 0.306, t = 9.608, p < 0.001). thus, as the brand is still fictional and does not have a real product or service attached, the evaluation of the quality is rather complicated. Instead of a real product experience the product quality has to be evaluated through pure perception
  13. 13. 411 fanCY a Coffee WItH FRIENDS In ‘Central PerK’? and imagination, as the fictional brand is not real yet. therefore, the standardised coef- ficient is lower than for the attitude towards the television programme. the identification with the fictional service brand (IdB) has a high positive impact on the overall attitude towards the fictional brand as well (b = 0.376, t = 11.826, p < 0.001). this result is consistent with H3.the self-connection with the brand,as defined by aaker et al. (2004), therefore influences the overall evaluation of the fictional brand. the degree of explanation for the attitude towards the fictional brand is rather moderate (R2 = 0.437). this shows that, in addition to (i) the attitude towards the television pro- gramme,(ii) the perceived service quality of the fictional service brand and (iii) identification with the fictional service brand, further antecedents exist that need to be studied in future. Dependent variable Concerning the dependent variable,we show the behavioural relevance of fictional brands. the results support H4. the attitude towards the fictional brand (afB) has a strong positive effect on the purchase intention of the fictional brand (b = 0.602, t = 16.718, p < 0.001, R2 = 0.362). the overall results of the global fit indices were: rMsea = 0.08, CfI = 0.94, gfI = 0.90, IfI = 0.94 and tlI = 0.93. General discussion research on fictional brands is in its infancy. as the research in this field is largely theoretical, an empirical investigation of the drivers and behavioural relevance of fictional brands was requested (Muzellec et al. 2012).this study answers this request in relation to fictional service brands, and confirms the positive relationship between attitude towards the television programme, perceived service quality and fictional brand identification with the attitude towards the fictional brand for the case of fictional service brands. these antecedents would appear to be major determinants in the overall evaluation of the atti- tude towards a fictional service brand, thus influencing consumer behaviour.the findings provide a first direct examination of fictional service brands.this shows that the fictional Table 4: Summary of study results Unstandardised coefficients (standard errors) Standardised coefficient Hypotheses results ATV → AFB 0.436 (0.029)*** 0.450*** H1 supported PQB → AFB 0.281 (0.029)*** 0.306*** H2 supported IDB → AFB 0.301 (0.025)*** 0.376*** H3 supported AFB → PIB 0.638 (0.038)*** 0.602*** H4 supported R-square AFB 0.437 R-square PIB 0.362 ***p < 0.001 RMSEA = 0.08; CFI = 0.94; GFI = 0.90; IFI = 0.94; TLI = 0.93
  14. 14. 412 InternatIonal Journal of advertIsIng, 2013, 32(3) service brand may have the potential to be used in real life as real services, as viewers show an interest in those services as measured by possible purchase intention. these findings have both theoretical and managerial implications. Theoretical implications this study, which is at the crossroads of the literature on branding (and in particular service brands) and product placement, contributes to those two academic disciplines. By demonstrating that fictional service brands may drive purchase intention, the study rein- forces the notion of brands as purely iconic and symbolic devices (duncan & Moriarty 1998). In building brand value, ‘perception is more important than reality’ (duncan & Moriarty 1998). abela (2003) proposes an additive interpretation of a brand, which depicts the product and brand as separate, with the brand as a mark that is added to the product. this study goes further by showing that brands may be created without any connection to a real product or service, and confirms the proposition of ‘protobrands’, i.e. fictional brands representing brand potential rather than reality (Muzellec et al. 2012). respondents in this study had developed some level of familiarity with the fictional brands and also had some mental images of the fictional brands. If, as is often suggested, brands exist only once they capture the imagination of potential consumers (Keller 1993), this study provides a concrete illustration of this notion. although no services really existed, consumers evaluated the fictional brands based on dimensions such as perceived service quality. one might argue that the brand is therefore in the process of becoming ‘real’ in the mind of the consumers, as evidenced by consumers’ eagerness to associate themselves with the fictional brand.they also show an appetite for visiting the displayed service brand if it did in fact exist in reality. the positive relationship between the brand and purchase intention of the potential service shows that fictional brands may effectively be ‘defictionalised’ for the pleasure of the television programme viewers and the benefit of the brand owner. tangible services may be created out of what was originally a simu- lacrum.therefore reverse product placement could be used as an innovative technique of fomenting images in the mind of consumers to entice future consumption of the service at some later date. Most traditional brand-building models assume that the product/ service is at the heart of brand equity (Keller 1993; aaker & Joachimsthaler 2000; Berry 2000). However, reverse product placement challenges the traditional models of brand management; the data gathered from this particular research show that brands may be built without any reliance on a physical product/service. the brand may initially just be a sum of images that are fomented in a fictional environment. the ‘productisation’ of the brand may occur well after the launch of the fictional brand, when the trademark is being registered and/or while the brand is being monetised. Managerial implications as the behavioural relevance of fictional service brands has now been demonstrated, this provides an opportunity for marketing practitioners or media creators to use the concept
  15. 15. 413 fanCY a Coffee WItH FRIENDS In ‘Central PerK’? of fictional brands to foment future services and products, retrospectively or by design ab initio. a us-based agency has already started to commercialise fictional brands retrospec- tively. omni Consumer Products is a product development company with a focus on licensing, defictionalisation and reverse branding. It has launched a number of defiction- alised brands, including ‘sex Panther’ cologne from the film Anchorman and ‘tru Blood’ bottled blood from the television series, True Blood. equally, the success of ‘duff’, the beer from The Simpsons and ‘final fantasy’ energy drinks from the video games of the same name clearly indicates that there is a market for fictional brands. Chang, newell and salmon (2009) have proposed three business process models for product placement: serendipitous (through chance), opportunistic and planned product placement. similar categories could be used for reverse product placement, but so far the initiatives described above seem to have been opportunistic rather than planned. there is no evidence of design ab initio. In the case of ‘duff’ beer, the defictionalisation occurred independently of the brand creator (fox), suggesting that not only are fictional brands an opportunity to exploit but also a risk to mitigate. Instead of the traditional attitude of piggy-backing on existing brands through brand extensions,companies could be much more proactive by creating,embedding and protect- ing fictional brands with a view to future defictionalisation. Management should consider the development of fictional brands through traditional and non-traditional media until such point as a market for licensing, merchandising or other defictionalisation exists. situation comedies may be particularly suited to such strategies due to their endurance, frequency, syndication likelihood and positive induced moods. soap operas may have similar advantages. Management should consider fomenting fictional brands on media platforms such as movies and computer games. the fomenting of fictional brands should not be viewed as independent of conventional product placement, but complementary.While conventional product placement serves as a direct income source for film studios prior to production, the effect of fictional brand is time-displaced; rent generation is derived post-production, as in the case of ‘Bertie Bott’s every flavour Beans’ from Harry Potter, now licensed and sold by Jelly Belly Beans Company. Limitations and future research this study represents an initial foray into research in the area of fictional service brands. as such, it represents a substantial mine for further research. first, the three factors considered (attitude towards the television programme, perceived quality of the fictional brand and identification with the fictional brand) accounted for only 43.7% of the variance of attitudes towards the fictional service brands. although this is significant, it also means that several other factors are not yet being taken into consideration, such as programme-induced mood, viewer predisposition towards advertising and programme modality, among others. this study focused on two situation comedies that, by their nature, are designed to induce positive mood. similarly, in the current study, ‘Central
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  19. 19. 417 fanCY a Coffee WItH FRIENDS In ‘Central PerK’? Wasserman, t. (2007) forward thinkers push reverse product placement. Brandweek, 48(5), 5. Winkler, t. & Buckner, K. (2006) receptiveness of gamers to embedded brand messages in advergames: attitudes towards product placement. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 7(1), 37–46. Yi, Y. (1990) Cognitive and affective priming effects of the context for print advertisements. Journal of Advertising, 19(2), 40–48. About the authors laurent Muzellec is a lecturer at Michael smurfit graduate Business school where he teaches marketing management and digital marketing communication at masters and MBa level. He is the programme director of the Msc in digital Marketing. His research interests pertain to the field of corporate brand management,fictional brands and (reverse) product placement and social media marketing. His articles have appeared in several international publications including Industrial Marketing Management, Marketing Theory, the Journal of Product and Brand Management and the European Journal of Marketing. since 2009, Christopher Kanitz is a research associate at the Chair of innovative Brand Management at the university of Bremen in germany. subsequently he works as a management consultant at KeYlens Management Consultants.His research interests are related to brand management,brand architecture,customer management and strategic marketing.He holds a diploma from the university of Mannheim and was a research fel- low at the essCa Business school in angers and Paris, france, and a visiting lecturer at the Institute of International studies in Bangkok,thailand. He is author of publications in journals such as the Marketing ZFP – Journal of Research and Management, Marketing Review, Journal of Medical Marketing and the Pharma Marketing Journal. theodore lynn is a senior lecturer at dCu Business school where he teaches stra- tegic thinking and digital marketing. He is Principal Investigator of the Irish Centre for Cloud Computing and Commerce and a director of Marketinglab, an applied market- ing technology research centre based at dublin City university. dr lynn has set up and sold a number of software companies and is a Partner in the 30/60 seed Capital venture fund. He advises a number of Irish and international companies. address correspondence to: laurent Muzellec, Michael smurfit graduate school of Business, university College dublin, Carysfort avenue, Blackrock, Co. dublin, Ireland. email:
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