A Fat Debate on Big Food? Unraveling Blogosphere Reactions
Calfornia Management Review, Vol. 55, No. 1, 2012
43 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2012
Date Written: July 20, 2012
In recent years, the food industry has been confronted with public concerns about health and obesity. And while companies are taking several measures in response, it is unclear to what extent they should communicate these policies or not. This is a topic left largely unexplored, but a crucial one, particularly in the internet era where online discussions can easily create a buzz with large potential consequences for companies’ reputation and bottom line. Knowing what type of communication generates which form of attention might also be worthwhile for policy-makers and non-governmental organizations, given the behavioral change needed to further health and fight obesity. This article explores reactions in the blogosphere to health-related corporate announcements. To this end, we analyzed blog posts and comments to press releases of ten large food companies active on the US market. Results show that taste-related announcements generate not only more reactions, but also more positive buzz than knowledge-related announcements. Valence is influenced by issue association per company type: those with highest obesity associations generate more negative blog posts. In case of low issue assocation, there are only limited blogosphere reactions; only one company with dedicated online ‘fans’ was an exception. Implications for practice and research are discussed.
Keywords: Blogosphere, Food Companies, Health, Obesity, Corporate Announcements, Social Media, Marketing, Advertising, Corporate social responsibility, Communication
JEL Classification: D18, D21, G38, I18, L21, L66, L81, M14, M31, M37
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation