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The Appropriateness and Value of Using of Princess Diana's Image in Road Safety Seat Belt Campaigns: A Preliminary Study
Dr Susan Dann Stephen Dann
Address for all correspondence: Dr Susan Dann Director of Research and Consultancies Graduate School of Management Griffith University, Nathan Campus, Queensland Australia. 4111 + 61738757350 + 61738757177 E-mail: email@example.com
Stephen Dann PhD Student School of Marketing Griffith University, Nathan Campus Queensland Australia. 4111 + 61738757585 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Appropriateness and Value of Using of Princess Diana's Image in Road Safety Seat Belt Campaigns: A Preliminary Study
ABSTRACT This paper presents the findings of a preliminary study into the value, appropriateness and public reaction to the use of the image of Diana, Princess of Wales in a road safety seat belt campaign. Data collected included attitudes towards Diana, attitudes towards the use of her image in road safety campaigns and evaluations of the three advertisements. The findings of this study indicate that there appears to be sufficient interest in and support for a seat belt use campaign that uses the image of the Princess of Wales to make this a viable area for further study. In particular, the preliminary indications are that a campaign of this type would not only generate interest, but would lead to an increase in support for the campaign it promotes. Keywords: [Social Marketing, Advertising, Princess Diana, Social marketing Ethics]
INTRODUCTION This paper presents the findings of a preliminary study into the value, appropriateness and public reaction to the use of the image of Princess Diana in a road safety seat belt campaign. Pilot research was conducted with three styles of advertisement being developed and tested on a sample of 130 university students from Griffith University and Queensland University of Technology in March 1998. Data collected included attitudes towards Diana, attitudes towards the use of her image in road safety campaigns and evaluations of the three advertisements. Following the decision to conduct this research, the British Royal Automobile Club (RAC) announced plans to apply for the use of Diana's image in a road safety campaign in England. Whilst the RAC subsequently decided to withdraw their application following public outcry, it was indication that her image will be used in a road safety campaign sooner rather than later.
RESEARCH PROPOSITION The paper outlines an exploratory pilot study examining attitudes towards the use of the image of Princess Diana in road safety seat belt campaigns. Princess Diana was selected as the 'celebrity' endorsement for seal belt usage as a result of speculation that her death in Paris could have been avoided if she had been wearing a seat belt. Three advertising copies based on the theories of rational (logos) and emotional execution (ethos and shock) were developed using the common road safety message that seat belt usage saves lives. The study captured respondent attitudes towards the use of Princess Diana in road safety advertising and evaluations of the three advertisements. Demographics recorded included gender and ethnicity. No hypotheses have been developed as this study is a preliminary investigation into attitudes towards the use of Princess Diana's image in road safety campaign. THEORY Social Marketing Communication Social marketing communication strategies are frequently confronted with the difficulty of selective attention to advertising messages. Road safety advertising exists amongst the sea of motor vehicle advertising. Commercial slogans indicating that the road to better life is through ownership and driving of expensive sports vehicles or that the path to family harmony is off the beaten track with a four-wheel drive. Commercial vehicle manufacturers expend millions of dollars each year demonstrating how their safety features can just about protect a driver from themselves accidents. Somewhere in this crowded field of messages are road safety campaigns struggling for attention. Messages indicating the benefits of seat belts, reduced speeds and careful driving compete with messages of air bags, quality tyres and brakes and safety 'crumple' zones.
Consequently, in the crowded market vying for the consumers limited attention span, social marketing campaigns need to address the problem of selective attention. Careful channel selection, dramatic design elements and familiarity in spokesperson and messages can assist the success of these campaigns (Andreasen, 1994). In particular, careful selection of celebrity endorsement can improve advertising recall (Friedman & Friedman, 1979), improve the recognition of the social issue (Petty, Cacioppo & Schumann, 1983) and increase the likelihood of adoption of the cause (Heath, McCarthy, Mothersbaugh, 1994; Kahle & Homer, 1985; Kamins et al, 1989; Ohnian, 1991) The effectiveness and value of celebrity as an endorser of a social campaign is based in matching the appropriate celebrity with the appropriate cause. The "matchmaking" process is based on two issues, the symbolic meaning and perceived attributes of the celebrity. Symbolic meaning is derived from the cultural meanings which are associated with the celebrity, either from their personal activities or the origin of the fame, such as sport, cinema or television (McCracken, 1989). Matching an actor who has a publicly recognised history of drug addiction with the "Just Say No" campaign will discredit the campaign, and reduce the impact. Similarly, perceived attributes of the endorser should match those of the campaign. In particular, the expertise, trustworthiness and empathy of the endorser influence the effectiveness of the endorsement (Andreasen, 1994; Walker, Langmeyer & Langmeyer, 1992). Expertise relates to the degree to which the endorser has a recognised degree of expertise in relation to the social campaign. Trustworthiness is the extent to which the audience on the basis of the person, rather than their perceived expertise trusts the endorser with the cause. Finally, empathy is the degree to which the endorser shares the values of the potential adopters, and the degree to which these adopters regard can related to the endorser. Celebrity Endorsement: The cultural meaning of Princess Diana. The selection of Princess Diana as the "celebrity endorser" of the road safety campaign was prompted by considerations that her death in an apparently avoidable road safety incident may be used in future road safety campaigns. The international attention given to the accident has created an unprecedented level of awareness surrounding the death of the Princess. Few, if any, people with access to Westernised media could have avoided the saturation coverage of the aftermath and analysis of the death. In terms of McCracken's (1989) measures of symbolic meaning, Princess Diana has been associated with the cultural meanings which include charity, compassion, helping others, a spokesperson for victims, and being perceived as "an ordinary person" who was accessible to the people. (O'Hear, 1998).
Advertising Theory In addition to the use of endorsements, social marketing advertising must also consider the type and nature of the information presented with the endorsement. Three forms of communication execution are presented: rational; emotion and non verbal (Kotler and Roberto, 1989). Rational execution presents a reasoned and logical argument which provide information for the recipient to use in the decision making process. The source and strength of the 'logos' or rational message is based on the logic of its argument, rather than the emotions generated from the advertisement. In addition, this form of advertising frequently incorporates both sides of the argument in order to allow the recipient to form their own conclusions. Emotional execution appeals to the emotions of the recipient, and use the manipulation of these emotions to form decisions based on feeling, rather than learning. Three common forms of emotional execution are ethos, shock and fear based advertising. Ethos advertisements are related to endorsements in that the strength of the message is derived from its source. Shock campaigns are a related form of advertising where the emphasis is on the emotional impact of the message rather than the arousal of fear (Keller & Block, 1996). The purpose of "shock tactics" is to present a dramatic design or content element that increases the visibility and recall of the advertisement in order to combat the problem of selective attention (Andreasen, 1994). Fear execution is where the purpose and design of the message is to cause fear arousal in the recipient. Whilst, this form of campaign has dominated emotional execution in social marketing, this has not precluded the use of positive emotional advertising. (Bagozzi & Moore, 1994; Keller & Block, 1996). Finally, the nonverbal elements of the advertisement also influence the message delivery. For still frame copy, such as the three advertisements developed for this study, non verbal elements included facial expressions, perceived body movement, spatial distance and physical appearance of the persons featured in the advertisements (Kotler and Roberto, 1989). The non-verbal elements also included the layout and design of the advertising copy, with emphasis being placed on white space, use of font size and styles and the use of colour.
METHOD Design and Procedures The design used to examine the attitudes towards the use of Diana was a one factor experiment in which the copy for the three advertisements were shown. Subjects were 133 undergraduate and postgraduate students. The three advertisements were shown in order of logos, ethos and shock. Respondents were
then required to fill out a four page survey. Questions pertaining to the assessment of the advertising were placed beside black and white miniature version of the advertisement which were included in the survey. Test Advertisements The three test advertisements were developed to represent the logos, ethos and shock emotional executions. It was felt that a fear-based message would overlap with the shock message. All three advertisements were developed as dummy magazine format advertisements. Logos The logos campaign featured a two column page of text formatted in an "advertorial" style. Content featured a discussion of the effectiveness of seat belts in reducing likelihood of death or serious injury in car accidents similar to that in which Princess Diana was killed. The copy featured the headline "Seat belts might have saved them" accompanied by an image of the wrecked Mercedes. Ethos The second advertisement used two quarter page columns of text beneath a formal portrait style image of Diana and the sub headline. The content was drawn from the same source as the logos text. The copy featured a headline "A tragic lesson to be learned?" with a sub headline of "In a life led by example, could her death serve as a lesson to us all?", and a slogan of "Seat belts save lives". Shock The shock-based advertisement featured the headline "3 out of 4 people agree" placed above a 2x2 set of head and shoulders portraits of Dodi Fayed, Princess Diana, Henri Paul and Trevor Rees-Jones. The slogan "Seat belts save lives" was placed beneath the four images. No other body text was included. Measures Personal Involvement with Diana and Road Safety Attitudes towards Princess Diana, road safety and seat belt usage were examined using five items derived from Zaichkowsky's (1985) Personal Involvement Inventory and Leavitt's (1970) Reaction Profile. Zaichkowsky (1985) defines involvement as the individual's perceived relevance of an object or person, based on inherent needs, values and interests. Involvement in this context is applicable to advertisements, products and adoption decisions (Zaichkowsky, 1985). Leavitt's (1970) profile was designed to measure emotional reactions to advertising. Items were drawn from Leavitt's (1970) sub-factors of "personal relevance" included the three items of "important to me", "meaningful to me" and "worth remembering" The remaining two items, "accessible to me" and "relevant to me", were derived from Zaichkowsky's (1985) work.
Semantic scale A nine item semantic scale was used to assess respondent opinions towards the use of the image of Princess Diana in road safety campaigns. Responders were given a five item semantic scale to assess the degree to which they found the use of Princess Diana's image in road safety campaigns to be "objectionable", "offensive", "unethical", "ineffective", "manipulative", "unfair", "exploitative", "inappropriate" and "persuasive". Advertising assessment scale Well (1964) Emotional Quotient (EQ) Scale was used to assess reactions to the individual advertisement copy. The EQ scale consists of twelve Likert-style items with 6 positive and 6 negative items designed to discriminate between high appeal and low appeal advertisements.
RESULTS Attitudes towards Diana Despite the large scale mourning at the time of her death, it is interesting to note that to this sample, the Princess of Wales was not considered personally relevant or important. Overall, less than 20 per cent (18.8%) of those surveyed agreed that Diana was important to them while only 12.6 per cent thought she was relevant to them. Similarly, despite her reputation as the "People's Princess", just over 10 per cent (11.7%) regarded the Princess of Wales as accessible. Despite this lack of personal relevance, however, a large proportion of respondents (70%) agreed that Diana was worth remembering. When further analyses of these general attitudes were undertaken it was found that no significant differences existed when attitudes were tested against age, gender or ethnicity. This is an interesting finding in that it confirms Diana's status as a global figure of international interest. The finding that, based on this sample, interest in her is not gender based is also important in that it indicates that the relevance of the use of her image would not be confined to any one segment of the market. Attitudes towards the Advertisements As well as attitudes towards the Princess of Wales, attitudes towards the potential use of her image in a road safety campaign were also tested. Overall, the figures indicated fairly strong support for the concept. In particular the figures showed that a large majority of respondents found the use of her image to be very persuasive (84.2%) and very effective (79.0%). Whether or not the image should be used, however, was more evenly divided with approximately a third of respondents (31.6%) finding the use of the Princess's image in such a campaign
objectionable. A similar percentage found the concept of these advertisements unethical (31.6%) or objectionable (26.3%). Overall, the advertisements ranked reasonably equally in terms of appeal, likability, memorability and support for the cause being represented. When relationships between attitudes towards Diana and the different advertisement were calculated however significant differences emerged. Overall, a strong positive correlation emerged between positive attitudes towards the Princess of Wales and the advertisement that took an emotional or ethos based approach. (Table 1) Table 1: Relationships between attitudes to Diana and attitudes to the Ethos approach to advertising using her image
Advert Appeal Important Meaningful Worth remembering Accessible Relevant 0.261** 0.260** 0.241** 0.281** 0.222* Like Advert Campaign Support 0.242** 0.379** 0.187* 0.212* 0.121 0.331** 0.289** 0.277** 0.281** 0.15 Memorable Advert 0.381** 0.372** 0.334** 0.378** 0.259**
** significant at 0.01
* significant at 0.05
With few exceptions, these relationships did not hold for the other advertisements. No significant positive relationships were measured between the difference attitudes towards Diana and the shock based approach. The logos advertisement recorded significant positive relationships between personal significance of Diana and campaign support and memorability of the advertisement. There was also a significant relationship for the logos approach between campaign support and the belief that the Princess was worth remembering and the memorability of the advertisement and meaningfulness. Again, when tested against the demographic profiles of respondents, no significant differences were found on the basis of gender, age or ethnicity. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS Findings The preliminary findings of this study indicate that there appears to be sufficient interest in and support for a seat belt use campaign that uses the image of the Princess of Wales to make this a viable area for further study. In particular, the preliminary indications are that a campaign of this type would not only generate interest, but would lead to an increase in support for the campaign it promotes. However, as the finding have shown, Princess Diana's appeal even in such a short period of time after her death has already begun to fade. Her value as a celebrity endorser was most evident in the ethos style advertisement. The limitation
inherent in these advertisements is that their impact is related directly to the strength of appeal generated by the message source. In order to maximise the gains presented by such a social marketing opportunity, the road safety campaigns using her image should have been implemented at the height of the her emotional appeal. Ethical Considerations An action, such as using her image within weeks of her death, raises a series of ethical questions for social marketing. Is the use of Diana's image in a road safety campaign ethical given the psychological effects that it may have on her children and the Royal Family? The question becomes one of utilitarian ethics as to whether the use of her death as a social marketing opportunity has sufficient benefit for the greater good to outweigh the trauma felt by a minority. Based on the results of this study it appears that there is a reasonable level of support for the use of Diana’s image to promote the use of seat belts, support which increases significantly amongst those who admired her and identified with her. Despite this, however, the persistent public outcry at the perceived exploitation of her image may prevent such a campaign from being developed in reality. The arguments against the use of the image of the Princess of Wales in such a campaign are based largely on the ethical implications. In particular, concern has been expressed regarding the potential adverse effect such a campaign may have on her family and especially, the psychological impact it could have on her sons. The extent to which the use of her image in a road safety campaign would have a more or less significant impact on her family and friends than its current use in commercial activity is a matter of debate. Related to this is the ethics of using someone’s image without their permission. Had she lived and not been involved in a fatal accident it is unlikely that road safety would have been an issue with which Diana would have explicitly concerned herself. Nothing in her past behavior indicates a special support or interest in the issue. The ethical question arises then as to the appropriateness of using her image to promote a cause that she did not openly support. It could be argued that this use of Diana’s image is unethical in that it is misrepresenting her and her priorities. It could also be argued that by emphasizing Diana’s death over her life as is the implicit message in such a campaign diminishes the value of the work she undertook during her lifetime. Concentrating on the manner of her death could be interpreted as an invasion of privacy and undermining of her dignity. In any case, the use of a person’s image to promote a campaign is inevitably based on the objectification of the person concerned. In this case, the person who
was Diana, who was a mother, family member and friend to many has been subsumed into the image that is Diana, Princess of Wales. This dehumanization of Diana is also likely to contribute to the distress of those who knew her as a person not a public figure. Finally, the use of the Princess of Wales in a campaign to save lives through the use of seat belt implicitly blames her for her own death. By promoting the fact that a seat belt might, and probably would, have saved her life, Diana’s death is being portrayed as something over which she had direct control. In effect, such a campaign is accusing the Princess not only of irresponsible behavior but also of involuntary suicide. Given the substantial ethical arguments against using Diana’s image in a road safety campaign to promote seat belt usage should such a program be developed? There is only one argument in favor of progressing the idea of such a campaign. However, the strength and importance of that argument is greater than the combination of arguments against the concept. Based on the results of this survey it appears that the example of Diana’s death has the potential to save lives. The question of whether or not to use her image becomes one of utilitarian ethics. Are the benefits accruing to society as a whole from the use of Diana’s image greater than the costs that will be disproportionately felt by a relatively small number of people? No-one can underestimate the distress that the thought that their mother’s death was avoidable could have on her children. However, based on the concept of further the public good and reducing the likelihood that other families will experience the pain that the Spencers and the Royal family have endured, the answer as to whether or not to use her Diana’s image in this way is “yes”. Further, the question of when and how her image should have been used asks the question of whether social marketers should focus on performing actions that have the greatest benefit, even if these actions are not socially popular. By delaying road safety campaigns using Diana's image until people are less emotionally involved with the Princess is self-defeating. The findings of the pilot study indicate that those people with higher emotional involvement with the Princess are more likely to become involved in the campaign. The success and support generated by the ethos campaign is also related to the level of emotion associated with the source of the message. By consciously choosing to delay the implementation of a emotion based campaign that is reliant on source credibility, until there is less emotion associated with the source seems counter productive. Whilst some individuals, including social marketers, may feel that the use of Diana's image in a road safety campaign is personal offensive, the question of the greater good arises once more. Should we, as social marketers allow our personal feelings to interfere with our efforts to maximise social benefit?
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