The Horns Effect of a Moral Brand Scandal on Perceived Product Quality

Julia Kick, Florian Kock

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Numerous examples of brands deceiving and disappointing their stakeholders can be found throughout marketing history. While these incidents have received great attention from both public media and academia, researchers have hardly considered their potential consequences on the scandalized brand’s perceived product quality. Merging organizational theory and the concept of legitimacy with contemporary marketing approaches, this paper understands moral brand scandals as jolts which result in consumers reassessing previously formed perceptions regarding the respective brand. In an experimental design, the authors show a negative halo effect, a so-called horns effect, thus drawing attention to the negative consequences of unethical behaviour on perceived product quality and performance. Complementing the extensive literature addressing the positive effects of corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, this paper bears important theoretical and managerial implications.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the EMAC 2019 Annual Conference
Number of pages1
Place of PublicationBrussels
PublisherEuropean Marketing Academy. EMAC
Publication date2019
ISBN (Print)9783982114606
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventThe 48th EMAC Annual Conference 2019 - University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Duration: 29 May 201931 May 2019
Conference number: 48


ConferenceThe 48th EMAC Annual Conference 2019
LocationUniversity of Hamburg
Internet address


  • Horns effect
  • Perceived product quality
  • Corporate social responsibility

Cite this