Fake news and brand management: a Delphi study of impact, vulnerability and mitigation

Andrew Flostrand (Department of Industrial Marketing, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden and Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada)
Leyland Pitt (Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada)
Jan Kietzmann (Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Publication date: 22 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Fake news is presently one of the most discussed phenomena in politics, social life and the world of business. This paper aims to report the aggregated opinions of 42 brand management academics on the level of threat to, the involvement of, and the available actions of brand managers resulting from fake news.

Design/methodology/approach

A Delphi study of 42 academics with peer-reviewed publications in the brand management domain.

Findings

The study found that on some dimensions (e.g. the culpability of brand managers for incentivizing fake news by sponsoring its sources), expert opinion varied greatly. Other dimensions (e.g. whether the impact of fake news on brand management is increasing) reached a high level of consensus. The general findings indicate that fake news is an increasing phenomenon. Service brands are most at risk, but brand management generally is need of improving or implementing, fake news mitigation strategies.

Research limitations/implications

Widely diverse opinions revealed the need for conclusive research on the questions of: whether brands suffer damage from sponsoring fake news, whether fake news production is supported by advertising and whether more extensive use of internet facilitated direct interactions with the public through crowdsourcing increased vulnerability.

Practical implications

Experts agreed that practitioners must become more adept with contemporary tools such as fake news site blacklists, and much more aware of identifying and mitigating the brand vulnerabilities to fake news.

Social implications

A noteworthy breadth of expert opinion was revealed as to whether embellished or fabricated brand narratives can be read as fake news, inviting the question as to whether brands now be held to higher standards of communication integrity.

Originality/value

This paper provides a broad-shallow exploratory overview of the professional opinions of a large international panel of brand management academics on how the recent arrival of industrial fake news does, and will, impact this field.

Keywords

Citation

Flostrand, A., Pitt, L. and Kietzmann, J. (2019), "Fake news and brand management: a Delphi study of impact, vulnerability and mitigation", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPBM-12-2018-2156

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Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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