Who Do Consumers Blame When Hybrid Messages Are Unmasked?
A recent trend among advertisers is to create hybrid messages that combine the advantages of advertising and publicity. These masked "hidden but paid for" hybrid messages may possess the potential to subvert public trust This paper examines the possible consequences of unmasking hybrid messages and posits that consumers regard unmasked hybrid messages as a serious transgression eroding the social capital of sponsors as well as message carriers. Public backlash and negative consequences are greater for the spokesperson and message carrier than the advertiser who initiated the hybrid messages.
Society of Marketing Advances, Proceedings, 2001.