A Reversal Theory Examination of Running Experiences and the Experiential Advertising of Three Leading Running Brands

PhD Thesis

Watkins, Leo 2017. A Reversal Theory Examination of Running Experiences and the Experiential Advertising of Three Leading Running Brands. PhD Thesis University of East London Health, sport and Bioscience https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.5963
AuthorsWatkins, Leo
TypePhD Thesis

Context & Objective
This research examines three distinct phases of consumption linked to the experiential advertising of three leading brands in the running shoe industry. Novel application of reversal theory is used to aid understanding of running experiences presented in three adverts, consumer responses to them, and the lived experiences of runners.
Design & Method
A mixed methods approach was applied across three studies. In study 1, reversal theory was used to identify the metamotivational profiles of each advert. In study 2, a questionnaire comprising the Reversal Theory State Measure and the Positive And Negative Affect Schedule was administered in a within-subjects design to assess advert effects. In study 3, semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten ultra-runners to triangulate the findings of study 1 and examine the phenomenology of ultra-running.
Findings from study 1 demonstrate the utility of reversal theory as an effective framework for auditing experiential advertising; the adverts studied shared narrow metamotivational profiles dominated by autic-mastery but differing across the telic and paratelic states. Findings from study 2 revealed similar effects in viewers across the three adverts, and provided strong empirical support of the concept of metamotivational reversals. In study 3, reversal theory provided an effective framework for unpacking ultra-running experiences, with the concept of psychodiversity proving to be key.
Conclusions & Implications
Findings of the research suggest that running brands should develop more diverse representations of running in their experiential advertising to better reflect the lived experiences of runners and appeal to a wider range of consumers.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.5963
Publication dates
PrintApr 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited02 Jun 2017
Publisher's version
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