Corporations: Selling Products or Shaping Societal Values

Table of Content

In today’s society, people are more inclined to articulate their personal opinions on current political and social issues than years past. This has become popular, and at times, even encouraged or provoked because of the accessible access and utilization of media. Media impacts people in day-to-day interactions, but also creates a platform for businesses and corporations to publicly share their view through mass marketing and communication campaigns. Communication campaigns, a persuasive way to communicate a message to a large mass of people, are used to promote an item or draw attention to the product (Rice, & Atkin, 2013).

However, when companies incorporate social and public issues into their message, this can create significant bias. These biases, or social responses, can impact buying behavior either positively or negatively. Consumer choices impact the economy, and in turn, can have an equally detrimental effect on the political climate. Because “sharing views” can have such a sizeable impact on society, this area of concern warrants deeper understanding. In this research paper, I will argue for the need to examine how companies communicate their view on current events; next, I will discuss what methodology I would use to conduct research based on my research question that will compel this study; finally, I will conclude with a discussion on the expected findings for the study.

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This study will look at the influence of company’s communication and the impact it has on consumers choices. By studying how communication can hinder consumer choices it can also lead to information regarding economic impacts and political climate. If companies express political/social views, people will be influenced to buy or not buy the product. This could impact the economy; it could be small scale or large depending on consumer response. Economic impacts add jobs or lays people off, it could impact people’s pay. In addition, when companies do this, they also could impact the political climate. Young people’s minds are quite impressionable (especially with the vast number of messages they receive from the media and media platforms).

Framing Theory

The framing theory, a theory related to mass communication refers to how the media presents information to the public. Media emphasizes certain events and then places strategically in their context to either encourage or discourage opinions (Scheufele, 1999). The different frames corporations use determines how persuasive or effective their campaign is which will then be able to be measured by public’s response. William A. Gamson and Andre Modiglian used one type of frame in their study analyzing media discourse and public opinion. This frame is called the media frame which refers to “the words, images, phrases, and presentation styles that a speaker (e.g., a politician, a media outlet) uses when relaying information about an issue or event to an audience” (Gamson & Modigliani, 1989). Framing identities help determine which of many frames will have an effect on public opinion. In this way, the media exercises a selective influence over how people view

Mass Communication/Communication Campaigns

Mass communication refers to the use of technology to disseminate a message to a large and widely dispersed audience (Janowitz 1968). Denis McQuail and Steve Windahl discus the influence of mass society theory, which conceived the citizens of modern societies to be vulnerable to media manipulation (McQuail, & Windahl, 2013). This gave way to theory in which people themselves played a more active role in adopting or rejecting the guidelines offered by mass media (McQuail, & Windahl, 2013). An emphasis needs to be placed on communication campaigns due to the large influence that have on the public.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Because corporate social responsibility (CSR) has such an impact on how corporations voice their opinions, when corporations disregard their responsibility it impacts how the consumer views that business. The importance of CRS varies based on consumer. Companies need to be aware of socially conscious consumers, which are “consumers who takes into account the public consequences of his or her private consumption or who attempts to use his or her purchasing power to bring about social change” (Mohr, Webb, & Harris, 2001). The public tends to favor businesses that improve our or society or spread positive messages; it is important for companies to maintain profits while being socially responsible and aware (Mohr, Webb, & Harris, 2001). In an experiment conducted by Louis A. Mohr and Deborah J. Webb, the correlation of a corporation’s social responsibility and responses of consumers were evaluated throughout. Corporations being social responsibility has a positive impact for the future of their company and purchase intent; companies are viewed not only for their products, but their reputation influences evaluation of the company and consumers buying choices (Mohr, & Webb, 2005). Companies aren’t only viewed based on their products, but also their choices which includes what and how they communicate with the public.

Consumer Preferences and Behavior

The correlation between consumer preferences and their buying behavior is important for companies to take into consideration when making advertisements and voicing their opinions regarding social issues. Communication channels have differential influences on people (Coleman,1993). Richard Horniak did a study to see the different influences communication campaigns have on the public. He examined the influence of political parties in media to see how it shapes public opinion (Horniak, 2016). After a corporation launches a large campaign regarding social issues consumers could respond by: supporting the corporation by increasing the amount they purchase, stop supporting the brand by not buying anything, or separating the brand from their beliefs and continue to buy the product. This is all due to media. Media creates effects which influence behavioral changes or mind changes of the public (Horniak, 2016).  Consumer preferences are shown through their behavior which can be positive or negative depending on how they view the advertisement.


Since my research question is such a large-scale question I will be analyzing the Nike, “Just do it” advertisement featuring Colin Kaepernick. After reflecting on possible methods I could use for this study, I concluded that a quantitative method would be the most beneficial to my study. I would do a two-part content analysis, a data collection method as well as an analytical technique which can measure the frequency of different elements in text (Keyton, p.230, 2015). By doing content analysis I have ability to find different codes regarding the research question. This method would let me look at the different frames in the campaign and what participants actually say when interaction, rather than relying on participants perceptions of their interaction.

I first would analyze the original Nike advertisement containing Colin Kaepernick saying, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” I will start by coding Nikes advertisement based on the framing theory (Scheufele, 1999). By analyzing the way in which the Nike advertisement uses different frames such as: physical occurrences and socially driven occurrences; I will be able to see if the frames they used in their campaign were persuasive to the public. By analyzing possible codes (words, images, phrases, and presentation styles) created in relation to the Nike advertisement I could assume that; their framing identities will be able to explain how persuasive it was to the public and how it altered public opinions.

For the second part of my content analysis, I will start by selecting the text I needed to analyze, which are tweets directed toward Nike about their Colin Kaepernick ad. I will then select different categories to analyze the text (mass communication/communication campaigns, corporate social responsibility, consumer preferences and behavior).

Since the Nike campaign reached many nationwide I will not be able to analyze all of the responses. My sample for analysis will include the first 400 responses that refer to Nike and their current “Just do it” Campaign. After collecting the 400 tweets I will begin to code for: mass communication/communication campaigns, corporate social responsibility, consumer preferences and behavior. These results will help me further understand which framing identities Nike used either helped or hurt their company.

Expected Findings

After reviewing past literature related to my research proposal (e.g., Communication Campaigns) and being present in the time the Nike “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything” advertisement was published, I expect the following to be in my possible findings; I expect to find that communication campaigns use certain frames strategically to increase persuasion, and have an effect on consumer bias when corporations take a stance on social issues. If the consumer agrees with the corporation’s opinion they will increase the amount they purchase; if the consumer does not agree with the advertisement they will use their purchasing power to convey their opinion.

Also, after coding the Nike advertisement and knowing the reaction of the public by the analysis of their tweets I could conclude that their advertising techniques were strategic in order to increase sales. By analyzing the codes created in relation to the Nike advertisement I could assume that; their framing identities had an effect on public opinion and persuasion. I would expect to find these framing identities to be consistently persuasive across a variety of communication campaigns.

Lastly, after coding the tweets correctly, the themes that would arise would be; the effect of mass communication campaigns, views on the importance of corporate social responsibility, and a correlation between consumer preferences and behavior. These findings can also be supported by Richard Horniak who found, “The effects of media influence the behavioral changes or mind change of the individual recipient, or the audience” (Horniak, 2016).  After conducting a content analysis regarding the Nike advertisement and the tweets in response to Nike I would be able to compare the codes to find the relationship between the use of different communication frames and the impact it has on the public.

This current generation constantly stands up and vocalizes their opinion which could give reasoning behind why Nike created an extremely controversial advertisement, but resulted in more sales and praise. I think by analyzing different responses to ads and comparing them to the actual context in the ad, to see what is most influential and persuasive is important to research today. Another way to analyze this large-scale topic could be by looking at other communication campaigns corporations have launched regarding social issues and seeing various response. Also, to further research on this topic in the future instead on analyzing textual responses, an interview process could take place and ask how the participant viewed a specific campaign then, compare data across generations. This could spark the question of: Does the same communication campaign frames appeal to all generations?

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Corporations: Selling Products or Shaping Societal Values. (2022, Mar 11). Retrieved from

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