Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues (Print ISSN: 1544-0036; Online ISSN: 1544-0044)

Research Article: 2021 Vol: 24 Issue: 3

Brand Management from Social Marketing and Happiness Management Binomial of in the Age of Industry 4.0

Gloria Jiménez-Marín, Universtiy of Seville

Rodrigo Elías Zambrano, Universtiy of Seville

Araceli Galiano-Coronil, University of Cadiz

Luis Tobar-Pesántez, Universidad Politécnica Salesiana


There is a correlation between social marketing management and its strategic approach to brand management, from the angle of striving to achieve goals that lead to greater social good. This can also be seen in its management of happiness. In this dynamic, brand management based on the social marketing - happiness management binomial makes it possible to build powerful brands that successfully integrate the culture that surrounds them, providing them with social benefits, achieved thanks to the positivism generated by their advertising, and economic benefits, as they make companies more profitable. The aim of this research is to analyze the case of the management of one of the most valuable brands in the world, Grupo Santander, to find out whether advertising, as a tool, has taken the cultural branding model to reach its audiences and, with it, generate happiness and profitability. The methodology is based on the branding management approach to verify how this marketing model is perfectly valid for the development of communication and social marketing actions. The results point to the validity and reliability of the model, as well as the importance of advertising creativity in the process of branding management in the era of Industry 4.0.

Keywords: Advertising, Brand, Happiness, Management, Marketing Social.


Although there are different approaches to brand management, the truth is that brands have evolved in such a way that the strategy of any entity, company, product or service is no longer understood without first configuring the brand as a strategic value (Fournier & Lee, 2009; Franzen & Moriartu, 2009; Allen et al., 2008; Keller, 2008) that requires an improvement in the content and content of the messages issued. Thus, brands have undergone an immense transformation, which has brought with it a specific interest in achieving messages that impact on consumers through their bilateral relationship, that is, a relationship where entity and consumer dialogue and a certain amount of feedback. And this is thanks to the social and cultural context.

Disciplines such as sociology or psychology approach the study of brands from a cultural perspective, recognizing their complexity due, in part, to individual and collective factors, as proposed by Schroeder (2009). Specifically, on communication, the cultural brand model, which establishes a relationship between brands and culture (Holt, 2004), starts from the everyday social life that entails a certain need (desire, perhaps?) to make potent brands created on empathy and insertion within the surrounding culture. Thus, the application of this model requires not only a great deal of knowledge about brand management but also a profuse knowledge of the environment, the context and the culture that surrounds the target. It is therefore a process built on the communication of stories that can link audiences with brands through the creation of relevant myths for consumers (Sanz et al., 2020).

This paper analyses the specific case of a brand with a wide recognition and tradition in the Spanish market, as well as having a long international projection: The Santader Banking Group, the Spanish multinational bank.

Cultural Brand Theory, created by Holt (2004), understands brand management based on creating a deep connection between brands and the culture of the moment, taking into account their collective nature. In this way, it recognizes a double social and learned dimension in the meanings associated with the brand. This is therefore a very different approach to brand management, as cultural brand theory maintains that it is the intangible characteristics, placed in the mind of the consumer, as well as the fundamental elements that guide consumption. This view is opposed to what Batey (2013) observed, who argued that it is the physical characteristics that give rise to a given consumption (Batey, 2013). With this perspective, previous models of brand management based on practical approaches such as the capacity to satisfy needs, hierarchized, are overcome (Fallatah & Syed, 2018). Under this new prism, according to Holt (2005), the brand functions as an active cultural device (Biraghi et al., 2020) that greatly influences the consumer decisions of people through the prevailing cultural meanings, providing the consumer-and its context-with a basic function in the brand creation, especially in the process of its value creation (Heding et al., 2009). Consumers therefore perceive products and services as simply means through which they can feel the narratives offered by the specific brand (Holt, 2004). This model also argues that the product is cantered on the ability of products to be substituted for each other, reducing their value to their ability to be useful. Similarly, his theory advocates a common place where products (and their brands) are intended to become symbolic cultural elements that help consumers in their daily lives (Holt, 2005). In this way, despite the established idea of the continuous evolution of culture, this author maintains that ideology must maintain a certain balance in any society. And this is where cultural archetypes come into play, as they represent a background on which his theory is built.

Although there are moments of instability and profound transformations, seen from a long-term perspective it can be said that societies usually enjoy a certain balance (O'Reilly, 2005). On this issue, Ollé and Riu (2009) note that any cultural shift, social event or economic crisis can affect the brand, its context and the meanings associated with it. In the face of these cultural alterations, iconic brands are forced to reinvent their myth at the risk of losing their meaning in society. Thus, the most successful traditional icon brands are able to adapt to these constant changes, managing to maintain their capacity to influence consumers (Jensen, 2007).

In this way, Holt maintains that myths are based on a series of populist worlds, which are constituted as groups that express a specific and distinctive ideology that is manifested through their activities (Sanz et al., 2020). In this sense, myths come to constitute the true essence of the theory of cultural branding (Souiden et al., 2006).

In this line, some authors assert that the importance of culture lies in the fact that the public can perceive these ideologies as authentic (Cayla & Arnould, 2008), as well as of internalizing them as their own (Beverland, 2018). In this way, the myths become iconic brands themselves, becoming elements that legitimise the meaning of the brand and persuade the consumer to incorporate new values into his or her life (Cohen, 2014).

In summary, brands are much more than instruments of cultural transmission, as they become ideological references with symbolic elements and myths (Kreft et al., 2019), which contribute to the creation of all kinds of social and even economic dynamics (Schroeder, 2009). Thus, following Holt, a brand becomes an icon if it can satisfy the needs of the society in which it develops (Cayla & Arnould, 2008), turning the classic competition of products into a "market of myths" in which brands propose to the consumer different stories that can serve as references, helping them to solve the cultural contradictions they face in their daily lives (Holt, 2005). These cultural conflicts are fundamental for the application of this theory, which is developed on the basis of the changes that consumers suffer in their different contexts.

Result of the Brand Culture Management Model: Iconic Brands

The cultural management of trademarks has been widely discussed in the literature. However, relatively little is known about the relevance to the corporate image of organizations whose brand is appreciated as a social or historical icon by the collective imagination of their consumers (Batey, 2013). As a result, it is worth noting that an iconic brand is understood as the capacity of creative agents to make a company's identity mark associated with the values, lifestyle or cultural customs of its target audience (Bresciani & Del-Ponte, 2017). In line with this concept, some research focuses on demonstrating that changes in socio-economic, anthropological and psychological factors that occur in the historical development of territories significantly affect the individual perception that potential consumers enjoy about the iconic nature of brands (Beverland, 2009; Ollé and Riu 2009).

According to the bibliographical production consulted for the development of this article, it is worth mentioning that a question that is scarcely dealt with in depth by scientific literature is the icon brand construct and its relationship with cultural tension in the era of Industry 4.0. Studies on this issue (such as those by Chatzipanagiotou et al., 2019; O'Reilly, 2005; Holt, 2004) argue, on the one hand, that in times of cultural hostility it is a great opportunity for corporations to implement attractive strategic brand management models from the perspective of semiology and cultural branding. And, on the other hand, they point out that if organizations do not develop this type of advertising and communication policies, this could lead to, among other things, the progressive decline of brand symbolism and, with it, the brand itself (Gary et al., 2018). This can occur when brands start to gradually lose their universality and thus their iconic character (this occurs when brands start to be misidentified with a powerful myth or timeless story).

In this sense, the classic works of Cassirer (1994) and Campbell (1994) are complemented as much as possible by more modern studies such as those of Cronin (2004) or Kim et al., (2019), which show that the feature of universality is very present in any culture or society on the planet. Based on this evidence, together with the theories of social marketing and happiness management, Holt (2004) states that communication managers must undertake innovative techniques of cultural actions that stimulate not only the universality of brands in the current global market (Chun et al., 2014; Jensen, 2007), but also generate new intangible attributes to the identity of corporations (Bresciani & Del Ponte, 2017). And this always with the aim of attracting the mass interest of the public, its consumers, clients or investors, as well as public opinion, in the current digital world. A good example of this could be happiness or charisma. The latter is a quality that invigorates brands and helps them become social and historical icons for citizens (Nyadzayo et al., 2015; Batey, 2013). When this happens, the corporate image of companies will not only enjoy a great influence on globalized culture (Biraghi et al., 2020), but also have the possibility of becoming true signs of popular identity through the use of cultural symbolism (Preece et al., 2019). In the light of this argument, brand management becomes an interesting multi-faceted tool so that companies' goods have great cultural significance for their consumers (McCracken, 1986).


The objective of this research is, on the one hand, to examine the theory of cultural branding in a qualitative empirical way directed at Spanish society as brand and product/service consumers; on the other hand, to explore the implications of social groups from the point of view of brand management. Thus, the main objective of this research is to deepen the study of the theory of cultural branding through its main representatives: consumers, which will allow us to explore the possible implications that potential buyers have towards the brands that impact them in order to expand the accumulated knowledge on this theory in its relationship with the management of happiness by companies, though, among others, social marketing.



In this study we have carried out an analysis of several Santander Bank Group campaigns, in order to check the management of its communications from a cultural brand and happiness management approach. The methodology selected was an analysis of content from a qualitative point of view, with an interpretative and critical orientation of their audiovisual projects. To this end, an advertising decoding and discourse analysis has been developed (Aaker, 2002; Williamson, 1978). The latter is oriented towards the cultural content of the chosen pieces. Likewise, discourse analysis has been based on the model of cultural branding proposed by Holt (2004). Other research considered to enhance this interpretative approach has been undertaken by Sanz et al., (2020), Berry (2013) and Seddon (2015). According to these authors, discourse analysis is explained as an interpretative practice of the processes of meaning and sense, considering not only the structure of the text but also the symbolic and cultural aspects. This implies that culture is apprehended as a scheme of principles and practices of symbols and myths (Chun et al., 2014; Geertz, 1990).

Study Corpus

For the development of this study, 12 spots broadcast from 2010 to 2020 have been selected. Three selection criteria were also considered: the first was the importance and value of the brand to consumers; the second was its a priori link to the cultural model. In this sense, we would like to point out that the corporation's brand, which is the subject of our article, was considered at the Renowned Brands Forum in 2019 as one of the most real and coherent brands at a global level for its consumers. The third selection criterion was the access to the pieces. Starting from these premises, we went on to analyse those advertisements that are registered on the official YouTube channel for the collection of the pieces.

As a result of this, and based on an interpretative approach, the significance of the richness of the projects was investigated. Table 1 shows the selected campaigns.

Table 1


Advertising Title (Spanish)

Advertising Title (English)

Piece Title

Year of Broadcast

 Cambiar para ganar

 Change to Win



 Súper búsqueda

 Super Search







 El suegro

 The Father-in-law



 Nerea Barros

 Nerea Barros



 Grandes equipos

 Large teams







 Más allá del dinero

 Beyond Money



 El último ciclista

 The last cyclist



 La remontada

 The comeback



 Spain for sure

 Spain for sure



 Aquí estamos

 Here we are




A total of 12 advertising works has been analysed in which the relationship of these spots with the theory of cultural branding has been studied. In the case of 4 of the pieces from the Banco Santander Group, specifically "Cambio para ganar", "Súper Búsqueda", "Avance" and "El último ciclista", it is observed that they do not comply with the keys described by the Holt model. They maintain the usual direct line of questioning to the brand's consumer, while their objective is to inform about a series of products without the theme or message being close to social marketing, to the principles of happiness management (Ravina-Ripoll, et al. 2019), and therefore without respecting the guidelines of Holt's theory. Other advertising works, on the other hand, can be considered to comply with them.

This is, in fact, the case of the campaigns "Confianza", "El suegro", "Nerea Barros", "Grandes equipos", "Más allá del dinero", "La remontada", "Spain for sure" or "Aquí estamos". In them, habitual situations are represented with which the public can identify, recreated with social content and under the philosophy of the management of happiness and the common good. In these examples, the brand communicates its messages hand in hand with the idea of generosity, always contextualized in complicated moments of daily life. In them, Banco Santander Group strategically links its brand, products and services to positive values through a myth, that of generosity (Leal-Jiménez, 1997). The relationship of brand values is thus established in an indirect and subtle way, also relating it to contexts of happiness and tranquility (Frey, 2018) strengthened through communicative elements based on sensorial marketing, such as visual ambience or musical backgrounds (Jiménez-Marín et al., 2019). These values, which become part of the brand itself in the positioning and mind of the consumer, try to ensure that the target audience perceives the brand, and therefore both its offices, as well as its physical representation, are considered safe and generous places that seek the common good and welfare of people, together, as a group, in a social way.

Brands that become culturally relevant often use culturally challenging situations to strengthen and enhance their positioning through messages of support and trust. Thus, taking advantage of the current crisis caused by the Covid-19, these campaigns are contextualized through the representation of everyday situations of culture in which they show common problems caused by the crisis, such as lack of money, time or freedom to enjoy social life. From this point, the brand provides solutions to these problems through a myth, that of generosity, represented mainly by a series of relationships, such as family ties, friendships or the close working environment. In this context, the brand introduces its commercial message by presenting its financial products as the desired solutions, helping to overcome these negative situations and making life easier for its different publics (consumers, partners, investors, media...), collaborating, as one more in the chain, and humanizing its services (Kim & Sung, 2016).

In this way, the Banco Santander Group brand takes advantage of the crisis situation caused by the Covid-19, managing to link its image to the emotional ties between people through the strategic use of the myth of generosity of Spanish culture and establishing itself as an emblematic brand.


Advertising has been reinventing formats and tactics for dealing with consumers since the mid-1990s. This (r) evolution is, among other causes, the result of the application of various strategies that seek to communicate messages of interest and special relevance that are an attraction between target and consumers. In this line, this paper shows that the ad campaign administration from a strategic cultural overview is presented as a success story in the Spanish society. The results show that Banco Santander Group has managed to maintain a presence in consumers' decisions by broadcasting advertising messages based on the collective cultural imagination of Spanish society. The identification of the circumstances and way of being that characterize the population are, therefore, the key to the success of these publicity campaigns broadcast and analysed, which, moreover, have brought about a high volume of sales.

This brand has established a certain strategic mechanism that is more appropriate for other classes that do not usually base their communication efforts on intangible issues, thanks to the application of the cultural branding model, which is more used for selling products than for intangible services. In this case, a banking product manages so that, through the cultural brand, its status is increased to a superior level. This is a competitive advantage over other brands in the same industry and, in this sense; it seems that the novelty of using this type of strategy for this category may be one of the keys to success.

Social situations, such as crises (economic, health, social...), show that companies are managing to connect with the different audiences they target through the strategic management of their brands, making them recognize the cultural value of commercial discourse and the power of these, the brands, to create identity links to the target, the consumers and the audiences. The nature of the messages of the campaigns analysed is determined by their location in a social scenario that is closely linked to a society that is fully identified with the brand. This means that the consumer needs to feel culturally and socially connected, which leads to efficiency and effectiveness, in commercial terms, of brand awareness and recognition, which, in the short, medium and long term, increases business profitability.

Throughout the pages of this article, it has been highlighted, on the one hand, the importance of creative advertising in the processes related to brand management in the age of Industry 4.0. And on the other hand, that the findings reached in this work show that the campaigns analysed in Spain are characterized by the implementation of innovative dissemination and promotion techniques, based on the technological advances offered by current digital tools. From our point of view, the results of our analysis may constitute one of the first exploratory academic works to open a future line of research that highlights the importance that it will have for organizations to carry out creative communication strategies and actions that promote their brand management in the post Covid-19 era, from the guiding principles of social marketing and happiness management (Ravina-Ripoll et al., 2018 & 2020). Finally, it should be noted that this study, as any other, is not exempt from its theoretical and practical limitations, including the spatial framework of the sample population, the non-random choice of its actors, and the cross-sectional and non-longitudinal nature of our work.


The Santander Group's advertising analysed sends a message of everyday life, with a series of commonplaces and superficial allusions to the lives of the people depicted, with their problems and triumphs in life. Thus, from the perspective of a consumer concerned about his or her finances, the Santander Group is probably presented as a brand with a social purpose, in addition to its own financial purpose. As for the traditional consumer, Grupo Santander appealed to its more social, human, wellbeing character, launching campaigns with a markedly positive, happy and problem-solving character. Another aspect to be highlighted in the campaigns analysed is the consonance generated by presenting different products with social, naturalistic and rural associations, in social, naturalistic and rural associations, in line with the orientation that can be observed in the bank branches themselves.

The brand is very much focused on family ties and the links between people. Iconic brands take advantage of the social tensions of certain moments in a culture, to launch a clear message to hold on to. In the specific case of these campaigns, the tension is identified with the general social situation of not having time, money or the possibility of social expansion after the confinement forced by the Covid-19 crisis. This tension is manifested in the pieces through different elements marked by recurring perceptions of Spanish society.

At this point, the Banco Santander Group manages to establish itself as that iconic brand that allows this anxiety to be resolved through the experience of a myth. The bank proposes to its public to retake these links through everyday situations. In this way, Santander is shown as the brand that makes consumers' lives easier, as it has a wide variety of financial products to help the viewer overcome different crises and, in short, a home in which to strengthen family relationships. On a strategic level, it seems very interesting for the brand insofar as it manages to link the product to a key issue for its core target audience in the Covid-19 era.

This idea relates to the cultural branding perspective. The analyses applied to the advertising pieces allow us to argue that the Santander Group could have become an iconic brand, as its discourse was constructed by appealing to issues specific to the current context (Covid-19 crisis), as well as to traditional and universal aspirations (the pleasure of sharing with others, the concept of family, among others), and in this sense it sought to alleviate certain social tensions and solve possible crises (economic, health, social...). In short, the brand draws on a variety of profound myths.

Also interesting are the frames adopted to represent gender roles in the campaign, which dialogue with a series of contemporary citizens' movements and cultural changes that Spain has experienced (Gomez-Lorenzini et al., 2016; Vergara & Porath, 2017; Porath et al., 2017). Not only are the women represented in the pieces active and fulfilled individuals in their own right; men, in the context of the family, are emotionally mature subjects, who are not afraid to express their feelings and who happily assume a more complete role than that of mere material provider.

Therefore, and following the theory, being a brand built from a dialogue with traditional and contemporary cultural narratives, and with the capacity to appropriate meaningful images from a value point of view, its identity and discourse clearly represented important characteristics of today's society.


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