Atthe dawn of the Internet, scholars began predicting a shift in powerfrom the marketer to the consumer, suggesting a new form ofconsumer-brand relationship (Bernoff and Li 2008; Bruce and Solomon,2013; Hennig-Thurau et al. 2010; Labrecque et al., 2013).Empowered by social networking sites, blogs and wikis, consumers canshare, co-create, discuss and modify their own perspective oncompanies and brands, a view that is often in conflict with the imagea brand wishes to convey (Christodoulides, 2009). Furthermore,consumers are able to influence other consumers’ consumptionactivities on a level not previously seen (Kim et Johnson, 2016).Consumers, in fact, are more likely to trust their peers rather thansponsored commercial messages (Kohli, Suri and Kapoor, 2015; Kim andJohnson, 2016).
Withthese changes in the marketing environment, brand managers are losingcontrol over their brands (Gensler, et al., 2013). Therefore, theycan no longer be considered the custodian of brand knowledge andbrand image. Marketers and consumers build a brand together.
Thismeans that the brand, as Fournier and Avery explain, is a sort ofopensourcecognitive construal “embedded in a cultural conversation in whichconsumers gain an equal, if not greater, say than marketers in whatthe brand looks like and how it behaves” (Fournier and Avery, 2011:194). The technology that was supposed to empower marketers hasempowered consumers. Social media, for example, was made to linkpeople together, not to sell branded products: marketers with theiradvertising campaigns, messages and contents risk to become uninvitedguests in the real-time online conversation flow (Fournier and Avery,2011). Withso many new consumer capabilities,marketersneed to verify if their beliefs and practices are still valid todayand, if not for any reason, what they should change in brand buildingand management techniques.
Therefore, thisarticle seeks to contribute to the extant knowledge about branding indigital era exploring how brands should strategically react topossibleconsumer-generatednegativesocial media messages, actions such as online petitions or brandretaliation which, according with Hegneret al., (2017), can be triggered bynegative past experience, symbolic incongruity and ideologicalincompatibility.To this purpose we conduct a casestudy analysis of Carpisa an Italian manufacturer and retailer ofluggage, handbags, wallets and accessories with over 600 directstores worldwide owned by the Private Company Kuvera S.p.a.Specifically, the attention is focused on a recent marketing campaignlaunched by the brand Carpisa which has produced among consumers andthe internet users a profound sense of anger, irony and indignation.Therest of the paper is organized as follows.
First, we present atheoretical overview of the main issue pertaining brand management inthe current marketing landscape.Thereafter, we present ourresearch methods and a detailed explication of data collection andanalysis. Finally, we discuss the main findings of this study, as well as the study’stheoretical and practical implications, limitations, and ideas forfuture research.