4.3 Research Question 2 (RQ2): Does brand co-creation exist in UK media
4.3.1 The prevalence of brand co-creation in UK media organisations
We know from existing brand management literature that academics such as Merz et al. (2008) and Ind et al. (2013) consider the process of brand co-creation to be a collaborative one between an organisation and stakeholders, generating value for all those involved. The occurrence and importance of brand co-creation has been researched in a number of contexts (Payne et al. 2009; Hatch and Schultz 2010;
Gyrd-Jones and Kornum 2012; Veloutsou and Guzman 2017), yet current evidence (Biraghi and Chiara 2017) indicates organisations may still not be embracing brand co-creation. The intention of this research was to add understanding about the prevalence of brand co-creation in UK media organisations, building on the limited empirical research on media brand co-creation.
From the data it was found that the majority of UK media organisations were engaging in media brand co-creation. For some, they used the actual words ‘co- creation’ to describe this activity.
This point is illustrated from the following respondents:
“we’re going to be doing something for ‘Game of Thrones’ ….. to fuse the connection with customers, it’s basically co-creation (co-creation), them having an understanding of what goes on behind the scenes and giving them the experience (personalised experience) that is extraordinary‘”
Marketing Director, Sky
“So co-creation (co-creation) it’s a real hot topic at the moment and we talk about it a lot, in different ways. So, for example, one of the things we take to market as an option for our clients is what we call our ‘fusion approach’ and that is, a proprietary tool that we use for a 2 day workshop with a client… So that is an example of where we co-create (co-creation) with our clients and their customers. Co-creation (co-creation) is something that we’re heavily encouraging our clients to think about doing.”
Senior Strategist, RAPP
However, it was a minority of UK media organisations that used co-creation terminology to describe their activity. The data indicated that the majority of UK media organisations adopted different language to describe the activity.
Predominately the two adjectives ‘engagement’ and ‘involvement’ were utilised. This can be seen from the following respondents:
“And then they create their own content about that and we can validate it, we can see if other consumers validate it. We can go in and say, “We really like this but can you make it—elaborate or can you make it in to a video?” So it becomes a real-time approach to organisations, engaging (co-creation) with them.”
Executive Director, Bulbshare
“there are people obviously genuinely watching here who are involved (co- creation) and they’ll maybe write about it as well…I have put forward a couple of ideas to get the audience more involved (co-creation) in the actual
production of shows’’
Head of Production, 4Music”
Although the prevalence of brand co-creation was apparent across the majority of media organisations, a minority of participants did state that co-creation was not happening:
“I can’t even think of an example of co-creation (co-creation).’’
Chief Strategy Officer, VCCP Media
139 To summarise, analysis of the data identified three key findings: prevalent
occurrence of media brand co-creation in conjunction with using brand co-creation terminology; prevalent yet using different language to describe the activity; and a minority of organisations who question the concept of media brand co-creation.
Overall the data supports the body of research, ranging from the early work of Merz et al. (2009), continuing on to the more current work of Kazadi et al. (2016) and Ind and Schmidt (2020), which identifies the bourgeoning occurrence of brand co- creation activity in brand management practices. We can clearly see from this research, evidence that UK media organisations are engaging in media brand co- creation activity, which aligns with the limited literature contextually situated in the media industry (Malmelin and Villi 2017; Bange et al. 2019).
The descriptors of ‘engagement’ and ‘involvement’ found in this research to describe the majority of media brand co-creation activity are in partial support of the existing literature which use a range of adjectives to describe brand co-creation. Merz et al.
(2009) adopt adjectives such as ‘continuous, dynamic and interactive’ whereas Ind et al. (2013) convey the words ‘active, creative and social’. This research can therefore add to definitions of brand co-creation which use a variety of terminology to aid in the understanding. Yet it also highlights that the actual term ‘brand co-creation’ has entered the language within some UK media organisations and from this it can be argued that brand co-creation has the ability to become more mainstream in the media brand managers portfolio .
In contradiction with the majority of existing literature, media brand co-creation is perceived by some UK media organisations as not occurring. Although a minority viewpoint, it does link to the work by Biraghi and Gambetti (2017) who highlight the
140 lack of ability of brand management to shift from the traditional linear approach to a more participatory branding environment.
Overall, this insight partially corroborates with the conceptual framework, which conveyed that brand management practices would support the incidence of brand co- creation activities. From the data, the absence of media brand co-creation activities from a minority of the organisations does however present some challenge to this framework. This challenge can be explained by further findings in 4.3.3 which looks at the rationale for UK media organisations facilitating (or not) media brand co- creation.