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Engagement and estrangement: A "tale of two cities" for Bristol’s green branding

Reynolds, Laura, Doering, Heike ORCID:, Koenig-Lewis, Nicole ORCID: and Peattie, Kenneth ORCID: 2023. Engagement and estrangement: A "tale of two cities" for Bristol’s green branding. European Journal of Marketing 57 (9) , pp. 2432-2458. 10.1108/EJM-08-2021-0602

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Drawing on the service-dominant logic and taking a multi-stakeholder brand value co-creation perspective, this paper investigates whether positioning a place brand around sustainability helps or hinders stakeholders’ ability to co-create value for themselves and the brand. The paper is based on a case study of Bristol’s city branding following its award of European Green Capital, drawing on 29 in-depth interviews with key informants from multiple stakeholder groups. These interviews are supported by secondary material and field observations. The findings evidence a "tale of two cities". When sustainability is used as a positioning device, tensions are identified across three elements of brand co-creation: (1) brand meanings; (2) extraordinary versus mundane brand performances; (3) empowerment and disempowerment in branding governance. These tensions create stakeholder experiences of both engagement and estrangement. This article is based on one case study and evaluates face-to-face stakeholder interactions. Future research could access further stakeholders, across multiple cities and also examine their digital engagement. Positioning a brand as sustainable (i.e., ‘green’) requires strong commitment to other ethical principles in practice. Brand practitioners and marketers may benefit from advancing stakeholders’ everyday brand performances to reduce disillusionment. Rallying around virtuous associations, i.e., sustainability, does not in itself facilitate the generation of value for stakeholders and the brand, but instead can illuminate power imbalances and tensions in stakeholder interactions that result in a co-destruction of value.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Brand co-creation; Brand co-destruction; Sustainability; Stakeholder engagement; Stakeholder Empowerment; Performativity; Branding community
Publisher: Emerald
ISSN: 0309-0566
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC, ES/J500197/1)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 July 2023
Date of Acceptance: 15 June 2023
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2023 09:33

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