A Fat Debate on Big Food? Unraveling Blogosphere Reactions

Calfornia Management Review, Vol. 55, No. 1, 2012

43 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2012

See all articles by Ans Kolk

Ans Kolk

University of Amsterdam Business School

Hsin-Hsuan Meg Lee

University of Amsterdam Business School

Willemijn van Dolen

University of Amsterdam Business School

Date Written: July 20, 2012

Abstract

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

Kolk, Ans and Lee, Hsin-Hsuan Meg and Dolen, Willemijn van, A Fat Debate on Big Food? Unraveling Blogosphere Reactions (July 20, 2012). Calfornia Management Review, Vol. 55, No. 1, 2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2114392

Ans Kolk (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam Business School ( email )

Plantage Muidergracht 12
Amsterdam, 1018 TV
Netherlands
+31 20 525 4289 (Phone)
+31 20 525 5281 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.anskolk.eu

Hsin-Hsuan Meg Lee

University of Amsterdam Business School ( email )

Roetersstraat 18
Amsterdam, 1018WB
Netherlands

Willemijn van Dolen

University of Amsterdam Business School ( email )

Amsterdam
Netherlands

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