Due to the continuously increasing importance of differentiation in the marketplace, building strong brand equity has become a crucial element of competition, and brands are constantly seeking unique methods of appealing to consumers. One available method is advertising utilising various forms of humour and satirical humour in television advertising has become particularly popular in modern South African advertising.
The contents of this research paper posit that satirical television advertising can be utilised as an effective brand equity building tactic. Furthermore, it is proven that satirical humour has a positive influence on numerous dimensions of brand equity including brand awareness, brand associations and brand loyalty. With accurate and entertaining use of satire in television advertising, a brand is effectively able to increase its brand appeal, brand perceptions and overall brand equity.
The researcher has utilised a thematic content analysis process whereby relevant outcomes have been established from the transcript of the qualitative focus group by means of coding the data and divided into relevant themes based on the responses and sentiments of the focus group participants.
The findings provided in the following sections will discuss the identified categories that have been developed based on the study’s theoretical framework provided by Aaker (1996). This essentially refers to the process of data reduction and the qualitative data generated during the contained research study has been reduced into the five categories namely Brand Awareness, Brand Associations, Brand Image, Perceived Quality and Brand Loyalty.
Each of the five categories include two related themes that have been established through coding. Coding these themes allowed the researcher to develop findings and insights related to each theoretical category. The findings and insights developed were subsequently analysed and interpreted based on the contained study’s research problem, research questions and objectives as well as existing literature and related research studies.
Aaker (1991) recognises brand awareness as a dimension of brand equity, and his theory states that achieving a positive brand awareness directly contributes to generating a strong brand equity. The coding and analysis process revealed two themes which suggest that the satirical “You People” commercial contributed positively to Nando’s brand awareness.
The two themes relating to the brand awareness category that were uncovered during the researcher’s data analysis process are advertisement awareness and positive memories.
The data revealed that all of the participants were aware of the “You People” television advertisement, and some could also recall being exposed to the “You People” messaging through other platforms namely billboards and product packaging.
In addition to being aware of the “You People” advertisement, some participants further expressed positive memories of it and the overall sentiment towards the advertisement was largely positive. The data thus indicated a generally positive level of brand awareness stemming from the participants’ awareness and positive memories of the “You People” advertisement.
The researcher has identified a generally favourable measure of brand awareness with regards to the millennials’ overall awareness of the satirical “You People” commercial; as well as the Nando’s brand. Furthermore, the findings also indicated that the satirical “You People” commercial proved to have an influence on Nando’s overall level of brand awareness. This identified influence on Nando’s brand awareness stemming from the satirical “You People” commercial is in agreement with the findings of a similar research study conducted by Khan and Khan (2013). Their research study established that humour in advertising has an apparent influence on brand awareness.
Given that Aaker’s (1996) brand equity theory identifies brand awareness as a component of brand equity and further states that achieving a positive brand awareness directly contributes to generating a strong brand equity; deductive logic thus allows the researcher to assume that the positive brand awareness identified from the data obtained, should in principle also indicate a positive influence caused by the satirical “You People” commercial on Nando’s brand equity amongst millennials. In addition to this theoretical finding; the studies of Nel et al., (2009) identify brand awareness as a key determinant of brand equity, and thus as the satirical “You People” commercial positively influenced Nando’s brand awareness; this should further imply that it had a positive influence on Nando’s brand equity amongst South African millennials.
The second category provided by the study’s theoretical Aaker (1996) framework comprises brand associations which are identified by Bastian (2015) as a crucial component of brand equity. Brand associations essentially reflect an individual’s perceptions of a specific brand; and they are thus of particular importance to the researcher’s study which sought to determine how satire influences millennials’ perceptions of the Nando’s brand.
The researcher’s thematic content analysis process revealed that in general; the millennial participants possess varied and contrasting associations with regards to Nando's brand. The data related to the millennials’ brand associations essentially produced two contradictory themes. In essence the millennial participants positively associated Nando’s with satire. In contrast they negatively associated the Nando’s brand with high prices and expensive products. Satire
Aaker’s (1991) brand equity theory states that positive brand associations are necessary in generating a strong brand equity. The researcher’s analysis of data generated revealed that participants positively associated the Nando’s brand with humour, and satire in particular. Furthermore, this positive association with satire also positively contributed to their overall perception of the Nando’s brand, as the brand’s use of satirical and controversial advertising was perceived as bravery and admired by the millennial participants.
The data also indicated that Nando’s strong association with satirical humour stems from their consistent use of satirical commercials, which the millennial participants have become accustomed to. In addition to the Nando’s brand having been observed by the millennial participants as being synonymous with satirical advertising the researcher further identified an evident entertainment value provided by the brand’s use of humour and satire. This entertainment value provided by the satirical humour manifested in the majority of millennial participants agreeing that they prefer humorous advertisements as opposed to serious or non-humorous advertisements. This supports McDougal’s (2017) finding that states that humorous messages are superior to non-humorous messages.
In contrast to the millennial participants’ positively associating the Nando’s brand with satire the data further revealed that they also negatively associated the Nando’s brand with being expensive. In fact, the data indicated that the millennial participants possessed an equal amount of positive satire associations and negative expensive associations with regards to the Nando’s brand. However due to the fact that the millennial participants all had average income levels and limited budgets, the brand’s product pricing was thus a significantly important and influential purchase decision factor. Thus, the millennial participants’ financial positions and heightened importance of pricing culminated in their strong negative association of Nando’s with expensive products and frequently increasing prices.
The researcher has interpreted the equal amounts of positive and negative associations as indicating that millennials possess an overall neutral association with regards to the Nando’s brand. The researcher has also interpreted that although millennials’ positively associate the Nando’s brand with satire, this association is not strong enough to outweigh their negative association of the Nando’s brand and its products as being expensive.
Unfortunately, the researcher’s qualitative study is unable to quantify the exact nature of the influence of the satirical “You People” commercial on Nando’s brand associations amongst millennials; however, the prevalence of both positive and negative associations indicates that satirical humour has an evident influence on consumers’ brand associations. As brand associations are closely related to brand perceptions; this identified influence of satirical humour on Nando’s brand associations also indicates an influence on brand perceptions. This finding is in contradiction with the study conducted by McDougal (2017), which postulates that humour used in television advertisements has no influence on consumers’ brand perceptions. Furthermore, this finding proves to be in agreement with Khan and Khan (2013) whose literature states that humorous advertising influences multiple components of brand equity including: brand recognition, brand awareness, and brand associations.
Brand image is a component of brand equity identified by Bastian (2015) and Nel et al., (2009) who state that a positive brand image directly contributes to a strong brand equity. The data obtained during the focus group conducted by the researcher indicates that the millennial participants observe a generally positive image of the Nando’s brand. Furthermore, the data also suggests that the satirical humour used in the Nando’s “You People” commercial positively contributes to their brand image. The data reflects two dominant themes related to the brand image category. These themes are South African humour and Nando’s as a funny friend.
South African Humour
This positive brand image stems from the participants’ impression of the Nando’s brand as being synonymous with accurate South African humour. This accurate representation observed by the millennial respondents further implied cultural understanding on behalf of the Nando’s brand. This understanding and entertainment provided by the satirical South African humour used by Nando’s contributed positively to the millennial respondents’ image of the brand.
In addition, the data also revealed that the millennial participants positively perceived Nando's brand as being a personal friend. Moreover, the millennial participants considered Nando’s as a special friend with a hilarious and witty sense of humour. The researcher has interpreted that the connotations of a friend are thus applicable to the millennial respondents and their relationship with the Nando’s brand. These connotations include trust, connection and loyalty. This finding is particularly pertinent to the researcher’s study as it indicates an influence of satire on brand imagery.
The researcher has interpreted that the predominantly positive image of the Nando’s possessed by the millennial participants; therefore, also indicates a positive influence on Nando’s overall brand equity. The researcher has interpreted the overall findings for category three as being in agreement with the studies of Motwani and Agarwal (2014) who also state that humour does influence brand image; however, this influence is only positive when the humour used in the advertisement is in line with the specific brand’s values and brand identity. This was particularly applicable to the researcher’s investigation into the influence of the satirical humour used by the Nando’s brand.
The data obtained during the primary research indicates that the millennial participants possess varied and contrasting quality perceptions with regards to the Nando’s brand and their products. In essence the millennial respondents observed the Nando’s products as high quality. However, this perception was outweighed by the expensive prices and cost perceptions. These two dominant trends in perceptions observed in the data can be understood as the value versus price trade-off, and essentially form the themes of the perceived quality category analysed below:
The data revealed that the majority of the millennial participants possess positive value perceptions related to the high quality of Nando’s products. The millennial participants’ high-quality perceptions stemmed from their personal experiences with the Nando’s brand. Conversely, if the individual participant recalled a negative experience at Nando’s, this then resulted in a negative quality judgement and negative perception of the Nando’s brand. The data also indicated an overall acknowledgement by the millennial participants of the decreases in portion sizes at Nando’s; however, this didn’t result in a negative perception of the quality of Nando’s products. Furthermore, these portion decreases did not discourage consumption of Nando’s, whereas a negative experience resulted in discontinued purchase.
Contrary to positive value perceptions of the Nando’s brand’s high-quality products the data further revealed that the millennial participants also possess negative perceptions of the brand’s quality, which can be attributed to their association with exorbitant product prices. The data revealed that all of the millennial participants perceive Nando’s as expensive. However, this only proved to be a deterrent for some. The data further indicated that the satirical “You People” television commercial had no influence on the millennial participants’ perceptions of Nando’s expensive products.
The researcher has interpreted the contradictory findings relating to the perceived quality category as indicating inconclusive evidence of the influence of satirical advertising. In essence the millennial participants enjoyed and appreciated the satirical “You People” commercial. However, it did not influence their quality perceptions and purchase decisions. This contradicts the findings of Mototo et al., (2017) who proved that humorous advertising influences the quality of a brand perceived by consumers.
This finding is also in disagreement with Hoang (2013); who also discovered that humour positively influences brand image; however, Hoang (2013) argues that humour has an influence on consumer’s purchase decisions. In contrast, the researcher’s findings indicate that the millennial participants’ purchase decisions are mainly influenced by financial factors, and thus the satirical humour had limited influence.
Aaker (1996) identifies brand loyalty as a significantly influential component and indicator of a brand’s equity. The millennial participants’ loyalty to the Nando’s brand is reflected in their frequent consumption as well as their continued purchase of the brand’s products. These two concepts essentially form the themes for the brand loyalty category and are analysed below:
The data obtained during the focus group indicates that a portion of the millennial participants proved to be frequent consumers of Nando’s products. This frequency of consumption varied between participants with some consuming their food at least once a week, and others at least once a month.
Perhaps the most conclusive indication of the millennial participants’ loyalty to the Nando’s brand may be reflected in their continued purchase of the brand’s products despite their exorbitant and frequently increasing prices. In essence the data revealed that the millennial participants were cognisant of the fact that the brand’s products are significantly costly. However, this did not prove to be a deterrent to consumption and ultimately, they continued to support the brand subsequent to an increase in their product prices.
This continued purchase and consumption of the brand’s products regardless of increases in their prices has been interpreted by the researcher as active loyalty to the Nando’s brand by millennials. Bastian (2015) reports that brand loyalty implies that equity has been created and thus the millennial respondents’ loyalty to the Nando’s has been interpreted as a contribution made by the satirical “You People” commercial to overall brand equity.
CONCLUDING ANSWERS TO RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Therefore, how do South African millennials respond to the satirical “You People” television commercial by Nando’s? In general, the millennials' responses to the satirical “You People” television commercial by Nando’s were predominantly positive. The millennials were entertained by the satirical humour utilised in the commercial and this further translated to their positive response towards the Nando’s brand. The accuracy of the commercial further elicited a positive emotional response by South African millennials.
And how does the satirical “You People” commercial influence South African millennials’ perceptions of the Nando’s brand? Primarily, the satirical “You People” commercial generated a positive perception of the Nando’s brand by the South African millennials. The satirical humour established a South African brand image for the Nando’s, furthermore, the millennials perceived the brand as a friend which indicates trust. However, these positive perceptions stemming from the satirical “You People” commercial were outweighed by the negative functional perceptions possessed by millennials. Essentially, the millennials’ negative functional perception of Nando’s being expensive proved to be stronger than their positive perceptions of the brand as a friend.
How does the satirical “You People” commercial contribute to Nando’s brand equity amongst South African millennials? (According to the brand equity dimensions provided by Aaker’s (1996) Brand Equity Theory).
Firstly, the data indicated that the “You People” commercial positively contributed to Nando’s brand awareness, due to the fact that the millennial participants were aware of the advertisement and possessed positive memories of it. The researcher has thus deduced that this positive brand awareness identified is likely to positively influence Nando’s brand equity amongst millennials.
With reference to the millennial participants’ associations with the Nando’s brand; there proved to be a significant amount of variation and the researcher is thus unable to determine their influence on the brand’s equity. The next finding revealed that the Nando’s brand conveyed a predominantly positive brand image to the millennial participants, and thus the researcher is able to deduce that this should imply a positive influence on brand equity. In contrast, the value of the Nando’s brand perceived by the millennial participants was predominantly negative in nature, as the high price perceptions outweighed the high-quality perceptions. This thus implies a negative influence on Nando’s brand equity amongst South African millennials.
The final finding relating to brand loyalty indicated that the majority of the millennial participants proved to be loyal to Nando's brand. This loyalty was demonstrated in their frequent and continued consumption of Nando’s products – despite increases in prices. This positive brand loyalty should conversely result in a positive influence on brand equity. Given these influences on the five identified components of Nando’s brand equity amongst millennials, it is conclusive that the “You People” commercial influenced the brand’s overall equity. Unfortunately, the overall nature of this influence is unable to be established by the researcher’s qualitative study; however, the researcher is able to reliably conclude that this influence was predominantly positive.
This study thus indicates that satirical television advertising has a positive influence on brand equity amongst South African millennials. Furthermore, it may be stated that if used correctly, satire can be used as an effective tactic to build brand equity.
Images via Pixabay under CC0