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Faculty Profile: Brianna Escoe

Sep 16, 2021
Brianna Escoe Studies the Emotion of Cringe and its Implications on Brands

By Lacie Blankenship


Brianna Escoe

Brianna Escoe, Senior Lecturer of Marketing, brings to campus her passion and desire to understand emotions as one of 6 additions to the Vanderbilt Business faculty for this academic year.

Shortly before joining Vanderbilt Business in 2021, Escoe graduated with her doctorate in marketing from the University of Cincinnati. In 2016, she completed her bachelor’s degree in neuroscience at Ohio State University. 

Escoe’s dissertation focuses on unprecedented research behind the emotion of cringe, defining it as “a form of vicarious embarrassment.” She explores the consequences of someone experiencing cringe from a personal and business viewpoint. 

“When brands release a cringeworthy advertisement or when something comes out about a brand or CEO where they did something cringeworthy; I look at those stories that tend to go viral and what it means for the brand moving forward,” says Escoe.  

Escoe referenced Pepsi’s 2017 “Live for Now” advertisement campaign as an example. The campaign attempted to address racial issues in America by implying that sharing a Pepsi could resolve them. Following the release of the advertisement, Pepsi’s online mentions increased significantly and were overwhelmingly negative, a trend Escoe explores in her research.  

Beyond studying cringe, Escoe’s research broadly focuses on emotions and how emotional experiences influence consumer behavior that impacts brands. Escoe is also interested in resource scarcity and compensatory consumption. 

This year, Escoe is teaching Marketing Communications and Pricing Strategy in the daytime MBA and MMark programs. Her lectures incorporate academic literature to emphasize the practicality of reading and applying research to marketing topics.

“I tie in the practical aspect with some literature to hopefully give students a more well-rounded understanding of the material and to show them how they can actually use things like academic journals in their careers,” says Escoe. 

At the University of Cincinnati, Escoe studied alongside another new Vanderbilt Business faculty member, Anthony (Tony) Salerno. She is excited to be working alongside professors like Kelly Haws, Kelly Goldsmith, and Jennifer Escalas, who she looked up to as a Ph.D. student. 

“There are really awesome, brilliant, and strong women [at Vanderbilt Business], and I wanted to be able to work with them; I am so excited to be part of that and part of such a collaborative marketing department,” says Escoe. 

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