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Understanding the Influence of the Fresh Empire Public Education Campaign on Hip-hop Youth in the United States using a Brand Equity Framework and the Theory of Normative Social Behavior Open Access

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The objectives of this dissertation were to explore the mechanism of the Fresh Empire public education campaign’s effects on campaign-targeted social norms about tobacco use among adolescents who identify with the Hip-hop peer crowd. The first study examines the properties of a set of items designed to measure equity in the Fresh Empire brand among the campaign target audience and presents evidence for reliability and validity of that measure. The two subscales found to underlie the items—brand personality/loyalty and perceived brand popularity—behaved as expected with other campaign evaluation measures like campaign receptivity and awareness: both perceived effectiveness, a measure of receptivity, and campaign awareness increased as brand equity increased. Campaign-targeted norms were also associated with brand equity in the expected direction such that higher levels of brand equity were associated with perceiving fewer friends and peers smoke, less willingness to associate with smokers, greater nonsmoking injunctive norms, and lower odds of current smoking. The second study examines whether brand equity mediates the relationship between exposure to the Fresh Empire campaign and campaign-targeted norms at a later time point. Using structural equation modeling, the analysis results showed brand equity as a complete mediator of the relationship between campaign awareness and normative beliefs: while campaign awareness was significantly and positively associated with brand equity; the direct path from campaign awareness to the normative belief outcomes was not significant in any of the models. Yet brand equity was significantly associated with normative beliefs the following wave in all models. In the third study we sought to understand the relationship between tobacco use descriptive norms and tobacco use behavior by determining whether factors posited in the theory of normative social behavior moderated this relationship. Results suggest that the extent to which perceptions about descriptive norms affect behavioral intentions depends on individuals’ perceptions about injunctive norms and outcome expectations related to smoking. When more of participants’ friends or peers were perceived to smoke, those with a weaker antismoking norm were more likely to intend to smoke than those perceiving a stronger antismoking norm. When smoking is perceived as popular and participants had less negative expectations about it, they were more likely to intend to smoke in the future than if expectations about smoking’s effects on health were more realistic.This dissertation provides preliminary evidence that brand equity plays a role in the relationship between campaign awareness and targeted outcomes and underscores the value of branding for social marketing campaigns. In addition, findings suggest that campaigns that focus on influencing descriptive norms should incorporate injunctive norms as well, because when descriptive norms are high, it is those with a weaker antismoking injunctive norm that are susceptible to smoking intentions.

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