An Experimental Examination of Activist Type and Effort on Brand Image and Purchase Intentions

Samuel H. Schmidt
Megan B. Shreffler
Marion E. Hambrick
and Brian S. Gordon

In 2016, several prominent athletes kneeled or sat during the national anthem of their games to protest social injustice in America. For their activism, these athletes inconsistently experienced both positive and negative consequences from their sponsors and fans. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate this phenomenon more closely by examining the effect of activism type and activism eff ort on a sponsor’s brand image and purchase intention of a product the athlete endorses, when controlling for brand familiarity. Participants (N = 384) were randomly assigned into groups in a 2 (activism type: safe, risky) x 2 (activism eff ort: low, high) experimental study. Results indicated brand image and purchase intention were negatively impacted by risky activism compared to safe activism, but activism eff ort had no effect on the two variables. Further implications and future research are expanded upon in the discussion.