Attitude change and interactive communications chapter objectives

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Chapter 8 Case Study: David Beckham: Professional Endorser
Summary of Case
This case features the one of the top celebrity endorsers ever, soccer (football) player David Beckham. Beckham has had a long and successful career as a soccer player in Europe. Now, he has turned the soccer world upside down by moving to the Los Angeles Galaxy as part of a record breaking contract. However, from the earliest days as a pro, he did what Michael and Tiger did: he secured some very lucrative endorsements. Since then, he has added to his portfolio to become one of the biggest product endorsers ever.
The question is asked: “Does the brand make the player, or does the player make the brand?” Nothing is ever a sure thing, but in a case such as Beckham’s, the answer is “both.” This is discussed in the text. Specifically, his most recent contract with Adidas is highlighted.
Suggestions for Presentation
This case is most directly applicable to the concepts of celebrity endorsement in the text. Within this concept, the concepts of cultural meanings and the match-up hypothesis should be discussed. But the bigger picture behind celebrity endorsement is that of source effects. This case is very appropriate for illustrating source attractiveness and source credibility. As a more indirect application, the Elaboration Likelihood Model could be discussed with respect to the types of messages that might effectively utilize a big celebrity endorser.

Suggested Answers for Discussion Questions

  1. In the context of source effects, discuss why companies such as Adidas would be interested in being endorsed by David Beckham.

Source credibility: Beckham derives most of his credibility as a source from his expertise. Is he a trustworthy person? That much is debatable, especially given the information on his extramarital affair. However, he is an expert at his game, so any product associated with soccer or sports in general would benefit from that expertise. He is also an expert at being a celebrity. Good looking, fashionable, jet-setter lifestyle—fashion, apparel, and prestige products would also be good choices.
Source attractiveness: This much should be obvious. Beckham is a good looking man with a beautiful and famous wife. Not every celebrity scores well on attractiveness.

  1. Considering how attitudes are formed, what are the potential positive and negative consequences of endorsements for both the company and the celebrity?

One thing was mentioned in this case; that of the allegations of Beckham having an extramarital affair. Although that has not seemed to have a negative effect on his fame and popularity, this is certainly the type of thing that falls into the category of risk. If Beckham engages in any kind of behavior that is viewed as unseemly and unforgivable, public opinion on him could turn in an instant. In the same manner, what would happen if he were to suffer a career-ending injury? The risks for Beckham are similar. Any company can become the brunt of negative publicity overnight. But barring some unforeseen occurrence such as this, the risks that the endorser takes are assessable up front to some extent. Is the image of the brand one that will enhance the image of the endorser? That should be determinable without signing any contracts.

Additional Support Material
Individual Projects

  1. Ask one of your students to interview three people and have each respondent identify an advertisement that they have a positive attitude toward and an ad that they have a negative attitude toward. Be sure to inquire to find out how their attitudes toward the ads influence their attitudes toward the products and likelihood of purchase.

  1. Have students produce an example of some type of promotion used for each of the principles of reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency, liking, and consensus.

  1. People hate the ad, but still find that they purchase the product. Have students generate and discuss a list of products that have had success from annoying campaigns. Why is this the case?

  1. Corporations love the buzz. Have students describe three examples of companies that have achieved positive PR benefits from the “buzz.” Why did this happen. Have them also generate a list of three companies that have flopped based on hype. What was the difference between these situations?

  1. Have students research and provide examples of the buzz created by companies on how “green” they are? Are these effective? Are they believable or credible?

  1. Have students design a print ad for a product or service of their choosing (the product or service may be real or fictitious, but the ad should be original work). Instruct them that they may get as elaborate as they wish (employing graphic software) or they may use the old-fashioned method of designing one by hand. Also instruct them that they should apply the principles discussed in the chapter to make the ad an effective tool of persuasion. This assignment will particularly appeal to the more creative students.

  1. Have students conduct a simple content analysis by examining either print or broadcast ads. They may find such ads in real sources such as magazines, newspapers, or by watching television. They may also find such ads online at Web sites that maintain archives of advertisements. Students should view numerous ads and analyze which of the following message appeals appear to be used: (a) emotional, (b) rational, (c) sex, (d) humorous, and (e) fear. Does the medium or specific media vehicle have an effect on which appeals are used most commonly? After conducting this analysis, have students explain which appeal(s) is most powerful? Most persuasive? Most credible?

  1. Have a student bring in three television ads that employ humor. Then ask the student to analyze the ads and explain what makes the ads funny and what causes them to wear out. What types of products can change your attitude by using humor in the message?

  1. Let students visit or another video website and watch humorous commercials from other countries. How are they different from American commercials? Can any of them used in this country? Why or why not?

  1. Negative attitudes are often difficult to change. Ask students to think of a company that has had some bad press. How has the company handled the news? Have they been successful in turning the situation around? What techniques did they employ (or are they employing)? What suggestions do you have for the company?

  1. As an out-of-class assignment, ask students to reveal a social issue that they oppose (e.g., smoking, alternative lifestyles, drug use, or using alcohol). Next, have students examine their attitudes toward the subject. What could be done to change their attitudes? Bring in evidence of marketers’ attempts to do so. Comment on the effectiveness of these attempts.

  2. Bring in a number of print or television ads that rely on the use of metaphors or resonance (or have your students do it). Have the students discuss the ads in groups. What are their initial reactions to the ads? How effective do they think they are? Do they think some other approach would be more convincing? Why?

  1. Have students identify an ad that is very evidently being repeated. Have the student estimate the frequency that the ad is being shown (they might want to do a little research [Google, Lexis-Nexis] to get some help). Is the ad experiencing positive or negative effects of the frequency of exposure?

Group Projects

  1. Have students groups catalog examples of “buzz” created via. viral marketing techniques. Research articles written on them to determine their effectiveness.

  1. Have students re-cast/re-develop/change emotions in existing ads and determine if they are likely to be as effective. In other words, take an ad using fear and re-cast them using humor and vice versa. Try this assignment with other emotions.

  1. Bring in a number of print or television ads that use celebrity endorsers (or have students do it). Have students get into groups to discuss how effective they think the ads are. By evaluating the spokesperson as either “good” or “poor”, determine whether the class likes the celebrity. Do they find the ads believable or contrived? Probe to find out why they feel this way.

  1. Have student groups select a product brand and look up advertisements for it during the past 20 years or so. (Good library sources include National Geographic, Ladies Home Journal, Reader’s Digest, and Time. Coke, Pepsi, Miller beer, Hallmark, and others have excellent videos of their old ads and the students tend to enjoy watching these.) Demonstrate how these ads reflect changes in consumer attitudes.

  1. There is probably a pub or a restaurant near campus that is known for its lack of cleanliness. Ask student teams to take charge of this establishment and develop a promotional campaign that would change consumers’ attitude toward this pub or restaurant. What is the difference between atmosphere and cleanliness? Could a manager clean the place up “too much”? Explain.

  1. Have student groups collect ads that demonstrate the literary devices of allegory, metaphor, simile, and resonance. Have them discuss the effectiveness of such with the class.

  1. Using the most recent national or state election as a backdrop, evaluate which candidate did the best job of changing attitudes among voters. Explain your reasoning. Give examples if possible. How did this “attitude change attempt” figure into the outcome of the election?

  2. Pick a controversial figure. Your group’s assignment is to design a public relations campaign that will change the public’s image about the figure you have chosen. What principles from the chapter did your group use to accomplish your mission? Present your campaign to the class. Measure whether the image of your chosen figure was improved or not.

  1. Each group of students should generate a list of at least 20 current celebrity endorsers (this should not be too difficult and they can use outside source for help). Which of these companies are getting the most bang for their buck and why? Which of the celebrities are benefiting the most from the boost of the company image and why?

  1. Have groups of students to take a common consumable product and apply a fear appeal to promoting the product. Have the students critique the effort with respect to the material presented in the chapter on using fear appeals. Have them do the same for applying a humor appeal to a commonly serious product.

Individual Assignments

  1. Go to Pick a product from the huge portfolio of General Electric. This product should be one that you do not use and have a negative attitude against. Design a brief advertising campaign that would persuade you to use the product. Explain the process that you went through and the principles from the chapter you used in your campaign.

  1. Go to We all know that we should floss our teeth more often. Why don’t we? With the help of this Web site, create a series of arguments that could get consumers to floss more often. Which products would seem to be best positioned to get consumers the most results from their increased flossing? Explain your choice.

  1. Go to This is a Web site of spoof advertisements. Just how outrageous are these ads given the reality of what consumers are faced with? Discuss a few of the ads in relation to concepts from the text.

  1. Go to How does this organization use fear appeals to change behavior and attitudes? Evaluate the effectiveness of the approach.

  1. Go to George Foreman has made a comeback, more than once. But long after his boxing career is over, he has been making a fortune as a brand spokesperson. What contributes to his popularity? For what products is he most successful (how many endorsed products can you name)? Should any of these companies be worried that George is endorsing too many products? Explain.

Group Assignments

  1. Visit or (or and review their ads posted on the Web site. Determine the kinds of advertising/message appeals utilized. Is humor a dominant theme? If yes, why is it so? Students must be 21 years to enter these sites.

  1. Go to Go to the various links for the Web site of Axe body spray. Analyze the content in terms of message appeals.

  1. Go to and Your group’s assignment is to critically evaluate both of these Web sites with respect to public relations efforts toward changing the public’s view regarding the company and its products. Notice that beer, alcohol, and cigarettes are controversial products. What techniques are used? How do the companies overcome fear appeals used by their detractors? How do the companies attempt to reach consumers beyond their normal target markets? Evaluate the success of both companies. Explain your reasoning. Do legislative restrictions and lawsuits seem to have affected the companies’ normal business operations? If so, how?

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