FCK, we're sorry: self-construal, interpersonal closeness, and swearwords in brand communications

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Grewal, Gurinder Singh
University of Lethbridge. Dhillon School of Business
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge. Dhillon School of Business
When might brands benefit from using swearwords in their communications material? This research theorizes and finds that the effect of a swearword in an advertisement on consumers’ attitudes towards the brand is moderated by the consumers’ self-construal. When the swearword was present (verses absent), those with an independent self-construal reported stronger interpersonal closeness and resultingly more favorable attitudes towards the brand. In contrast, those with an interdependent self-construal reported weaker interpersonal closeness and less favorable attitudes towards the brand. The study also assessed humour, credibility, and arousal as alternative explanations. The study contributes theoretically to the areas of marketing and psychology. It introduces a new mediator for the swearing effect and extends prior work on the relationship between self-construal and interpersonal closeness. This study also informs marketers by making recommendations for the use of swearwords in their communication material.
linguistics , marketing , public relations , PR , brand communications , swearwords , self-construal , interpersonal closeness , IOS , interdependent , independent , construal , B2C , consumer behaviour , consumer psychology , transgressions , crisis response , brand crisis , profanity , communications , advertising , brand attitudes