Should Companies That Use Professional Athletes to Endorse Their Products Drop Athletes Who Become Involved in Personal Scandals?

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Should companies that use professional athletes to endorse their products drop athletes who become involved in personal scandals? An analysis in terms of normative ethics.

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SUBMITTED BY: S. L. REAMS

ETH301 :: Business Ethics
Module 1 – Case Assignment
23 November 2012

Marketers and agencies utilize a vast variety of tactics to persuade the modern consumer. A more outspoken of these strategies is known as “engagement marketing” or “experiential marketing” which is the philosophy that audiences should be engaged in the sales process when they want, and by which channels they prefer. An outstanding means used by advertisers to stimulate their brand awareness is the utilization of public figures, notably well recognized and successful athletes. Uniting a public figure with a product or brand employs rhetorical teachings to implicate the ethos appeal thereby associating a sense of credibility and trustworthiness with the brand. For example, a golfing enthusiast sees that Tiger Woods is a good golfer; he also feels that Woods is a “good” person, then when the fan sees Tiger stating “Buick is the best vehicle in America.” He should then be more inclined to purchase one. This is an advertiser’s expected response from a well “engaged” consumer. Within the philosophy of experiential marketing, “engagement” measures the extent to which a consumer has a meaningful brand experience when exposed to commercial advertising, sponsorship, television contact, or other experience. The Advertising Research Foundation has defined the function whereby engagement impacts a brand:

According to the ARF function, the ethical appeal associated with a product or brand plays a critical role in effective consumer engagement. Currently, endorsers are compensating athletes upwards of seven figures to represent their products, with the expectation that this will lead to higher sales. From a corporate perspective,...
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