Effects of underdog (Vs top dog) positioning advertising

Sunkyu Jun, Jungyeon Sung, James W. Gentry, Lee Phillip McGinnis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The study investigates individual differences in attitudes towards brands being positioned as underdogs in advertising from an emotional perspective. We argue that the personality trait of empathic concern moderates the underdog effect on brand attitude and that the moderating effect is mediated by empathic response to the advertisement. We conducted three experiments with ads using top-dog and underdog appeals. Those who have stronger empathic concern showed more favourable attitudes towards the brand advertised through underdog positioning, and the effect of empathic concern was mediated by the empathic response to the underdog positioning advertisement. For managers, targeting consumers who have high levels of empathic concern could result in more favourable attitudes towards underdog businesses when using underdog appeals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-514
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Advertising
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015


  • Brand attitude
  • Empathic concern
  • Empathic response
  • Underdog effect
  • Underdog positioning advertising

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Marketing


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