Impression Management After Image-Threatening Events

A Case Study of JUUL’s Online Messaging

  • Nicholas Eng Pennsylvania State University


E-cigarette use is a public interest issue and has received increasing attention over the years. JUUL, the biggest brand of e-cigarettes, has been singled out in what the FDA calls a youth e-cigarette epidemic. This study uses impression management theory to examine how JUUL engaged in positive impression management online in response to these image-threatening events. Employing a thematic analysis, this study examines changes in JUUL’s website between April 1, 2018, and October 9, 2019, and Twitter posts between April 28, 2018, and October 18, 2019. Results suggest that JUUL made both textual and visual changes in its messaging over time to engage in positive impression management, while using the impression management tactics of self-promotion, exemplification, and supplication. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Original Research