New Insights on the Relationship Between Consumers and Personified Brands

An article published in the January, 2014 issue of Psychology & Marketing (Wiley-Blackwell, Publisher) sheds new insights on the relationship between consumers and personified brands.

Lake Worth, FL, December 22, 2013 --( Psychologist/author, Dr. Ronald Jay Cohen observes that many popular brands are person-like or personified by a real person (like Paul Newman), a fictional person (like Betty Crocker), a cartoon character (like Captain Crunch), or a costumed person (like Ronald McDonald). An advantage of personifying a brand is that consumers can have what is known as a para-social relationship with the brand and can better identify with it in human terms. Characters and people who personify a brand can take on the role of brand spokesperson (the Car Fax Car Fox), a brand mascot (Taco Bell’s talking Chihuahua), or brand ambassador (the Budweiser Clydesdales). Dr. Cohen suggests that some brands have even tried to personify their brands as consumers themselves (see his discussion of the Wendy’s Red Pigtail Wig campaign and the Snickers You’re Not You When You’re Hungry campaign). Children are typically targeted by personified brands because, as cited in the article, “if it talks, kids listen, and parents buy.”

Examples of brands for which the brand personification strategy has worked notably well include Newman’s Own (Paul Newman), Apple (“Mac” versus “PC”), Dunkin Donuts (“Fred the Baker”), and Charmin Bath Tissue (George Whipple). Examples of brands for which the strategy may not have worked as well as expected include Arby’s (“Oven Mitt”), Quiznos (“Spongmonkeys”) Domino’s Pizza (“Bad Andy”), and KFC (animated Colonel Sanders). In some cases, brand ambassadors have breathed new life in to a dying brand. Such was the case with Old Milwaukee brand beer when a campaign marked by a tired tag line (“It doesn’t get any better than this,”) actually improved significantly with the introduction of “the Swedish Bikini Team” as brand ambassadors (both commercials are posted on YouTube).

Author Ronald Jay Cohen, Ph.D., ABPP is a licensed and board-certified psychologist in Florida and New York, a diplomate of the American Board of Professional Psychology, a diplomate of the American Board of Assessment Psychology, the author of several books (including Psychological Testing and Assessment, 8th edition published by McGraw-Hill), and the founder and editor-in-chief of the scholarly journal, Psychology & Marketing, published monthly by Wiley-Blackwell, and the founder of a production house that produces editorial videos called Gold Palms, Inc. Dr. Cohen is available for interviews.

Complimentary copies of the article in electronic or hard copy form are available to the press from Ronald Jay Cohen, Ph.D., ABPP, 8927 Hypoluxo Road, Bldg A-4, #224, Lake Worth, FL 33467.
Telephone: (954) 567-8530
gold palms, inc.
Ronald Jay Cohen, Ph.D., ABPP