Merchant of Mercy, Merchant of Death: How Values Advocacy Messages Influence Jury Deliberations
This exploratory study addresses the ability of values advocacy messages to influence target publics' behavior beyond consumer purchase decisions. In doing so, it fills a gap in the research by extending our understanding of the persuasive premises of values advocacy messages beyond rhetorical (de)construction; consumer behavior; and the establishment of typologies, definitions, and methods of inquiry. Using focus group methodology, target audience members ( n =37) of a contemporary values advocacy campaign reflect upon the messages presented in the context of jury deliberations. The findings show that focus group participants would likely reduce punitive damage judgments if exposed to values advocacy messages. The social and cultural implications exposed by participants' comments reflect ongoing concern among critical scholars about the ability of corporations to manipulate public behavior and indicate the ethical conundrum between corporate and community speech.