Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Barbara Lafferty, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Anand Kumar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

David Ortinau, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Terry Sincich, Ph.D.


Embedded Marketing, Social Marketing, Product Placement, Modality, Branding, Behavior Consistency


The use of embedded marketing, the practice of seamlessly integrating advertising messages into entertainment vehicles, continues to grow as media consumption shifts to on-demand forms, and reaching audiences with traditional advertising becomes more challenging. This dissertation investigates cause placement, the term proposed for the social marketing equivalent of product placement, the more widely known form of embedded marketing. Cause placement is the promotion of pro-social causes by verbally and/or visually inserting related elements into entertainment programming. Cause placement merits its own stream of research, because consumers are expected to react differently to the placement of social issues than to the placement of commercial products. However, cause placement has enjoyed little empirical research. This two-essay dissertation proposes a theoretical framework for the relationship between six independent variables, three of which have not been previously investigated in the embedded marketing research, on three dependent variables that measure the effectiveness of cause placement. The independent variables are placement modality, placement centrality, programming genre, image of the character, consistency of the behavior, and brandedness of the cause. The dependent variables are recall of the cause, attitude toward the cause, and intention to support the cause. Each of the two essays tests a portion of the proposed framework.

Essay 1 (Chapter 4) investigates the effects of brandedness of the cause and placement modality on the three dependent variables using a 2 (branded/unbranded) by 3 (verbal/visual/ both) between-subjects design. As hypothesized, a branded cause was found to yield better recall than an unbranded one regardless of modality. Contrary to expectations however, there was no interaction effect between modality and brandedness on attitude toward the cause and intention to support the cause. The branded cause resulted in higher attitudes than the unbranded ones, and there were no significant differences among the groups for intention to support the cause, likely due to a ceiling effect reached because of the familiar cause used. The pattern of results plotted for attitude toward the cause was in the predicted direction, such that for the unbranded conditions the both verbal and visual modality had the highest attitude while for the branded conditions the opposite was true.

Essay 2 (Chapter 5) investigates the effect of image of the character and consistency of the behavior on the three dependent variables using a 2 (“good guy”/”bad guy”) by 2 (consistent/ inconsistent) between-subjects design. As hypothesized, recall of the cause was higher when the main character’s behavior was consistent with his personality, regardless of the image of the character. Also as predicted, there was an interaction effect between image of the character and consistency of the behavior, such that attitude toward the cause was higher for consistent than inconsistent behavior when the image of the character was “bad guy,” but there was no significant difference in attitude toward the cause for consistent versus inconsistent behavior, when the image of the character was “good guy.” The analogous pattern hypothesized for intention to support the cause did not hold, however, perhaps due to the moral obligation that participants may have felt to follow the promoted behavior regardless of their personal attitude toward the cause. Limitations for both essays are discussed, as well as areas for future research.

Included in

Marketing Commons