Dark Branding: A Proposed Conceptualization
This paper aims to incorporate dark branding into the dark marketing spectrum. The study's research question is: How do fake reviews in news media and the recency of non-existent hospitality establishment reviews influence the behavioural intentions of the viewer? The findings of a qualitative study on the place of interest, namely, a (non-existent) restaurant with fake reviews in news stories, were used as a background analysis. A purposive sampling technique and thematic analysis approach were adopted. Dark branding is conceptualised as a form of branding involving questionable ethical practices such as fake online reviews and forms a basis for consumer activism within the dark marketing spectrum. The approach of using emotional marketing, for example, selling mood/comfort instead of tangible products such as food, the novelty of service delivery, servicescape, and signature storytelling, are attributes of dark branding. Adopting an exploratory research method, this study is a first step towards defining the problem statement as a deceptive technique in information technology used by content creators to promote brands, and it is suggested that dark branding in tourism is a dimension of dark marketing.
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