International researchers examine phenomenon of brand cancellation

By our News Team | 2023

Social media allows consumers to quietly distance themselves from a brand and potentially reduce its reach and, ultimately, its profits.

Research published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning has investigated the phenomenon of cancel culture and homed in on the emerging problem for companies of ‘brand cancellation’. 


The work sheds light on the motivations and strategies that have led to this trend in the world of social media and beyond.

Brand Cancellation

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Researched by the University of Nicosia in Cyprus alludes to cancel culture in which individuals or entities are, perhaps rightly, held accountable for their actions or statements.


The results are based on an analysis of 20 in-depth interviews with communication and marketing professionals. This offers new insights into the nature of brand cancellation.


Offensive advertising content is apparently the primary driver behind brand cancellation, although how we define offensive is a moot point as there will always be a proportion of any audience that will be sensitive to, or triggered by, a specific advertisement.


Nevertheless, there is certain content that can be more obviously defined as offensive – such as sexist, racist or otherwise discriminatory content, political propaganda, and victim-blaming.


Additionally, if a brand’s ethical stance concerns beauty standards, gender equality, environmental policies and health concerns, then these too can play a significant role in the cancellation of a brand.


Varied motivations to participate in brand cancellation


The research has shown that anonymity on social media, peer pressure, and a desire for justice can motivate individuals to participate in a brand cancellation. 


Seemingly, nothing more sophisticated than unfollowing a brand has become a significant way to express one’s disapproval of a problematic brand. It allows consumers to quietly distance themselves from the brand and thus to potentially reduce the brand’s reach and, ultimately, affect its profits.


That said, in some cases, excessive or unjustified hate comments directed at a particular brand can have the reverse effect and even lead to increased support for that brand.


The University of Nicosia research underscores the need for businesses to effectively manage their response to brand cancellation. 


Inevitably, from the company’s perspective, they need to be aware that there is a way back from cancellation. Usually, a sincere public apology and the implementation of corrective action in response to a controversy will help. 


Brand management and citizen activism can be at odds, but there is space for compromise and acceptance on both sides, the researchers say.


You can read more about the study, titled ‘Online criticism and cancel culture in digital marketing: a case study of audience perceptions of brand cancellation’, here.

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop

    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.