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Conspicuous political brand interactions on social network sites

Ben Marder (Business School, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK)
Caroline Marchant (Business School, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK)
Chris Archer-Brown (Academy for Innovation & Research, Falmouth University, Penryn, UK)
Amy Yau (Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Jonas Colliander (Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm, Sweden)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 29 January 2018

Issue publication date: 29 March 2018




Acquiring “Likes” for a political party or candidate’s Facebook pages is important for political marketers. For consumers, these “Likes” are conspicuous, making their political affiliation visible to their network. This paper aims to examine the roles of the undesired social-self and visibility (conspicuous vs inconspicuous) in predicting consumers’ intention to “Like” political brands. The authors extend knowledge on the undesired social-self and transference of theory from general marketing to a political domain and provide practical advice for political marketers engaging social network sites.


The authors gather data from two surveys run with Facebook using electorates in the run up to the UK 2015 and US 2016 elections (n = 1,205) on their intention to “Like” political brands under different visibility conditions.


Data support the theorized relationship of the undesired social-self with social anxiety intention to “Like” when “Liking” is conspicuous. However, data also indicate that all users – irrespective of proximity to the undesired social-self – prefer to “Like” inconspicuously.

Research limitations/implications

The research is limited by the generalizability of the specific context and the use of self-report measures.

Practical implications

Political marketers should reconsider promoting conspicuous consumption for that which is more inconspicuous.


The authors provide the first examination of the undesired social-self in driving behaviour under different visibility conditions. Furthermore, the authors challenge the extension of existing knowledge of the self-concept within political marketing, based on the “norm” for consumers’ to avoid disclosing political views publically.



Marder, B., Marchant, C., Archer-Brown, C., Yau, A. and Colliander, J. (2018), "Conspicuous political brand interactions on social network sites", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 52 No. 3/4, pp. 702-724.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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