The Role of Branding in the keepin' it REAL Substance Use Prevention Curriculum

Open Access
Lee, Jeong Kyu
Graduate Program:
Communication Arts and Sciences
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 25, 2010
Committee Members:
  • Michael L Hecht, Dissertation Advisor
  • Michael L Hecht, Committee Chair
  • Roxanne Louise Parrott, Committee Member
  • Rachel Annette Smith, Committee Member
  • Puiwa Lei, Committee Member
  • Douglas David Evans, Committee Member
  • substance use prevention
  • branding
  • keepin it REAL
While branded health messages are often effective in promoting healthy behaviors, it is not clear how this strategy produces protective effects. To better understand the role of branding in health prevention and promotion, the current research investigated the underlying mechanisms explaining branding’s effects on youth substance use in the keepin’ it REAL (kiR) substance use prevention curriculum. Chapter 2 described cultural grounding approach as a method to develop a brand and conceptualized the kiR as a brand for substance use prevention. With a case study of the kiR curriculum, this chapter provided an effective way to create and develop health messages utilizing branding principles and cultural/social elements. Using a cross-sectional data (N = 296) from the middle schools in Phoenix, AZ, an empirical study is reported in Chapter 3 that examined the effects of brand equity on youths’ substance use through social cognitive processes. Structural equation modeling (SEM) analysis revealed that as hypothesized brand equity affected refusal efficacy and the efficacy that, in turn led to decrease intent to use substances. Based on the evidence it is concluded that the kiR brand equity serves as a protective factor for adolescent substance use. A second empirical study is reported in Chapter 4 utilizing a longitudinal data (N = 1,151) to investigate the effectiveness of branded drug prevention videos on youth recent use of substances. This study hypothesized that attitudes toward ad (Aad) would mediate branded message effectiveness. Consistent with predictions, results indicated that likability (or attitudes) of the kiR mediated the relationship between message perceptions and youth substance use. These findings are discussed in Chapter 5 with regard to the theoretical contribution and practical implications. Future directions are also discussed along with the studies’ major limitations.