A generational study on self-referential advertising: How it affects attitude toward brands

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Self-referential, meta or self-aware advertising uses irony and cynicism to overtly critique and challenge conventional advertising strategies. While increasingly multiple brands are using self-referential advertising campaigns to implement innovative advertising strategies, a limited amount of research has been conducted on the effects of self-referential advertising on consumers’ evaluative responses. This study aimed to identify a link between self-referential ads and the consumers’ sense of self-presentation, mainly the conflict between the ideal self and the real self, and how this, in turn, affects their attitude toward the brand in the subject, further affecting purchase intention and brand perception. A quantitative structured study was conducted in a group of 326 18–35-year-old people, comprising Millennial and Generation Z consumers, using voluntary sampling through links to Google Forms distributed online on various platforms. Findings showed a significant positive correlation between self-referential ads, brand perception, and consumers’ brand attitude (r = 0.777, 0.712). Besides, in the mediation analysis, each of the four regression models establishes a correlation among the three variables. However, significance is not found in the mediating role of consumers’ real selves between self-referential advertising and brand attitude, though consumption patterns mediate consumer acceptance of self-referential advertising. The findings gave product/brand managers and marketing professionals a strategic direction on the importance of using self-referential forms of advertising in congruence with the product life cycle and brand positioning. It also helps to understand the importance of consumption patterns in creating advertising appeals.

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    • Figure 1. Conceptual framework
    • Table 1. Self-referential ads and brand perceptions: Regression and correlation analysis
    • Table 2. Regression analysis of the mediating role of consumers’ real-self between self-referential ads and brand attitude
    • Table 3. Chi-Square tests: The positive association between self-referential ads and band attitude
    • Table 4. Regression and Sobel Z test: The mediating role of consumption pattern between self-referential ads and brand attitude
    • Table 5. Mediation and regression analysis: The role of consumption patterns between consumer brand acceptance and self-referential advertising
    • Formal Analysis
      Kavitha Venkatasubramany Iyer
    • Methodology
      Kavitha Venkatasubramany Iyer, Mansuri Mallika
    • Resources
      Kavitha Venkatasubramany Iyer
    • Software
      Kavitha Venkatasubramany Iyer
    • Supervision
      Kavitha Venkatasubramany Iyer
    • Visualization
      Kavitha Venkatasubramany Iyer, Mansuri Mallika
    • Writing – review & editing
      Kavitha Venkatasubramany Iyer
    • Conceptualization
      Mansuri Mallika
    • Data curation
      Mansuri Mallika
    • Investigation
      Mansuri Mallika
    • Validation
      Mansuri Mallika
    • Writing – original draft
      Mansuri Mallika