The mediating role of attitude towards values advocacy ads in evaluating issue support behaviour and purchase intention

Yoon-Joo Lee

University of Southern Indiana

Eric Haley

University of Tennessee

Kiseol Yang

University of North Texas

Introduction

It has been widely accepted that advertising tactics and strategies can be employed to sell pro-social values and behaviours in order to make our society a better place (Hill & Moran 2011). Further, consumers also have expectations that advertisers should use their resources to help social causes. Recent findings from research companies such as Experian, Simmons and the Cone Cause-Evolution Study indicated that 83% of Americans say they wish brands would support causes, and 41% have bought a product because it was associated with a cause (Advertising Age 2012). As a result, academics and practitioners have discussed how consumers understand companies’ issue support efforts in the various ways, such as green advertising (Hartmann & Apaolaza-Ibanez 2009), social marketing (Hill & Moran 2011) or values advocacy advertising (Sinclair & Irani 2005; Lee et al. 2010). Values advocacy advertising can be considered a part of corporate social responsibility advertising because companies attempt to convey socially responsible images and promote social issues to consumers through ad messages. For example, McDonald’s has encouraged healthy eating habits and regular exercise (A.E. 2009) and Miller Brewing has supported binge drinking prevention campaigns (Sloane 2003). Advocacy advertising is a type of institutional/image advertising (Haley 1996). It has been noted that consumers differentially process product and corporate ads (e.g. Kim et al. 2009). Therefore, it is important to examine values advocacy advertising in its unique context.