Betrayed by the buzz? Covert content and consumer-brand relationships

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Date of Original Version



Brands are increasingly sponsoring online communications that do not identify their commercial source as a way to break through advertising clutter and to circumvent consumer cynicism toward traditional advertising. The results of lab studies indicate that these covert actions decrease trust in and commitment to brand users and that this effect is strongest when the brand user's emotional connection to the brand is threatened. Thus, use of covert marketing campaigns to overcome challenges with advertising may be done at the expense of the strongest consumer-brand relationships. Given the potential for loss of trust in and commitment to a brand in an environment in which brand relationships hold high value, brand marketers may have an incentive to discontinue covert marketing efforts without policy intervention. Alternatively, marketers could go to greater lengths to cover their tracks, which could have important implications for policy and consumer welfare. © 2009, American Marketing Association.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Public Policy and Marketing