Brands with personalities - Good for businesses, but bad for public health? A content analysis of how food and beverage brands personify themselves on Twitter

Publication Name

Public Health Nutrition


Abstract Objective: To examine the extent to which food and beverage brands exhibit personalities on Twitter, quantify Twitter users' engagement with posts displaying personality features and determine advertising spending across these brands on Twitter. Design: We identified 100 tweets from 10 food and beverage brands that displayed a 'personality', and 100 'control' tweets (i.e. a post by that brand on the same day). Our codebook quantified the following personification strategies: (1) humour; (2) trendy language and (3) absence of food product mentions. We used media articles to quantify other personification strategies: (4) referencing trending topics; (5) referencing current events; (6) referencing internet memes and (7) targeting niche audiences. We calculated brands' number of tweets, re-tweets, 'likes', and comments and report the relationship between advertising spending and retweets per follower. Setting: Twitter posts. Participants: Ten food and beverage brands that were described in media articles (e.g. Forbes) as having distinct personalities. Results: Personality tweets earned 123 013 retweets, 732 076 'likes' and 14 806 comments, whereas control tweets earned 61 044 retweets, 256 105 'likes' and 14 572 comments. The strategies used most included humour (n 81), trendy language (n 80) and trending topics (n 47). The three brands that spent the most on advertising had similar or fewer retweets per follower than the four that spent relatively little on advertising. Conclusions: Some food and beverage brands have distinct 'personalities' on Twitter that generate millions of 'likes' and retweets. Some retweets have an inverse relationship with advertising spending, suggesting 'personalities' may be a uniquely powerful advertising tool for targeting young adults.

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National Institutes of Health



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