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Cultural resonance of global brands in Brazilian social movements

Maribel Suarez (Department of Marketing, COPPEAD Graduate School of Business, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Russell Belk (Department of Marketing, Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto, Canada)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Article publication date: 10 July 2017

Issue publication date: 10 July 2017




The research analyzes the presence of two global brands – Fiat and International Federation of Association Football – in Brazilian demonstrations in conjunction with the 2014 World Cup. The purpose of this paper is to extend the brand cultural resonance construct and highlights its boundary-straddling nature. The analysis reveals the dynamics of brand meanings established including why some brands have their meanings enriched through collective appropriation, while others become vessels of negative content and targets of anti-consumption movements.


A multimethod approach, which included observation, analysis of cultural texts and in-depth interviews with 21 demonstrators, was adopted for the study.


The study extends the construct of brand cultural resonance proposing an additional facet, named Institutional Resonance. This dimension relates to the meanings that arise from a brand’s institutional role and interactions with other social institutions, like governments, the economy, religious, and educational systems. Institutional Resonance occurs when a certain brand becomes the archetypal representation of a social institution. This study also presents two forms of brand cultural resonance: arrows or targets. As arrows, brands lend their symbolic resources to the construction of protesters’ messages helping them to communicate their ideas. As targets, brands become social enemies and represent negative poles of social contradictions.


This study investigates consumer appropriation of marketers’ actions. The research depicts Institutional Resonance as an interactive and acute phenomenon which promotes a social negotiation on a playing field where different agents forge brand meanings and reputations.



The authors thank Cátia Schott, Cornelia Scuderi, Gabriel Volfzon, Juliana Gross, Leticia Casotti, Mariana Coelho, Mariana Cupolillo, Paula Chimenti, Rafael Carvalho, Roberta Dias Campos and participants in Qualitative Marketing Research course at COPPEAD Graduate School of Business for their invaluable insights on earlier drafts of this paper.


Suarez, M. and Belk, R. (2017), "Cultural resonance of global brands in Brazilian social movements", International Marketing Review, Vol. 34 No. 4, pp. 480-497.



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