Guest editorial

Published date09 March 2020
Date09 March 2020
AuthorKirk Plangger,Leyland Pitt
Subject MatterMarketing,Product management,Brand management/equity
Guest editorial
Brands and brand management under threat in an
age of fake news
A very large study of the fake news phenomenon on Twitter by
Vosoughi et al. (2018) established some s imple but
frightening facts. Fake news spre ads farther, faster, deeper
and more broadly than the truth. Becau se fake news was
almost always more novel the truth is not usually stranger
than ction people were always more willing to share it. Fake
news also evokes different emotio nal reactions, than the truth.
True news generally evokes what mig ht be less intense
emotions such as joy and sadness. Fake ne ws tends to arouse
Like the dissemination of all info rmation concerning
individuals, organizations and othe r entities, fake news can
have a signicant impact on brands. Br ands are both the
perpetrators and the victims of fake new s (Berthon and Pitt,
2018;Mills et al.,2019). While there have been successful
attempts at educating consumers on ho w to evaluate
information sources (Head et al., 201 9), fake news presents a
troubling problem for brand manag ers. This problem is
magnied, as consumers seem to dis regard the attempts of
digital platform managers to not ify them of illegitimacy of
content (Colliander, 2019).
Customers are interacting wit h empathic media sources
(Bakir and McStay, 2018) that produce digital content
(articles, blogs, advertising, public relations releases, pictures,
videos and other digital content) that is n ot only tailored for
precise audiences but also person alized to impact the attitudes
and behaviors of specic individual s. Many customers adopt
or change opinions and beliefs base d on the truthiness or the
judging of legitimacy by feelin gs, rather than thought
(Berthon and Pitt, 2018). This im plies that customers may
have attitudes toward brands tha t are not based on evidence
but driven by their consumption of fake news ab out a brand,
which has consequences for bran d trust and attitudes
(Visentin et al.,2019).
Brands have always been an issue of in creasing general
interest, as the graph of Google se arches according to Google
Trends for the term brandsfrom 20 04 to the present in
Figure 1 shows. The notion of fake new san d societys interest
in it is different. Searches for t he term were dormant, as can be
seen in the same graph, until the 2016 US Presidential
Election, when they spiked signicant ly, only to revive again
in 2017, and then decline slightly.
Academic interest in fake news , however, has accelerated
rapidly in the recent past. A sear ch for papers in peer-reviewed
journals on Web of Science in which the terms fake news
and truthinessappeared identied 492 papers and res ulted
in the construction of the trend grap h in Figure 2. Whereas
very few papers featuring the term s were published on these
issues until 2016, this took off r apidly in 2017, a year in which
60 papers were published and incre asing three-fold to 180
papers in 2018. In all, 148 papers have been publishe don t he
terms so far in 2019, but it must be remembered that these
numbers include only papers published unt il the end of July of
this year. It is very likely that the total, for the ye ar 2019, will
exceed 180 papers. Fake news and tr uthiness are obviously a
big deal in academia.
Web of Science data on the top ten disciplines in which this
work is being published are shown in Fig ure 3. As can be seen,
the communications discipline dom inates with 95 papers
(around 20 per cent of the total) being publis hed in peer-
reviewed journals serving that discipl ine. This is followed by
information science, educatio n and political science.
Business, with only six papers, wou ld not have made the top
20 disciplines on the list. Market ing journals would have
been included under this categorization, and close inspection
reveals that the most cited paper in a mar keting journal on
fake news and brands is the relatively rec ent paper by Berthon
and Pitt (2018), which has 21 citatio ns on Google Scholar as
of August 2019, and only 2 citations in Web of Scie nce
journals. Quite simply, fake ne ws and brands have not been
substantially explored in the m arketing literature.
Using the bibliographic softwar e VOS (Visualization Of
Van Eck and Waltman, 2009), we also
created a number of network maps of key te rms, author
networks and co-citations in all the We b of Science papers on
fake news and brands. VOS Viewer is free software develop ed
at the University of Leiden in The N etherlands to analyze
bibliometric data and then to co nstruct and view
Figure 1 Searches for brands and fake news from 2004 to August
Figure 2 Number of papers per year on fake news or truthiness
Emerald Insight at:
Journal of Product & Brand Management
29/2 (2020) 141143
© Emerald Publishing Limited [ISSN 1061-0421]
[DOI 10.1108/JPBM-03-2020-008]

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT