Styleor Substance? Viewers'
Re Actions to Spokesperson's Race in
Joan Scattone Spira
Tommy E. Whittler
De Paul University
In this new millennium, one may findit difficultto imagine marketersshowing concernabout the race or ethnicity of spokespersons inadvertising. However, mainstream mass-targeted magazines and prime-time television still feature predominantly White models(Green, 1991, 1992; Williams, Qualls, &Grier, 1995; Wilkes & Valencia, 1989). Thus, the of ten-used depiction of America as a “melting pot” may not be accurately portrayedin American advertising. Perhaps some marketers ponder, “Ifwe put minority models inour advertisements, will the y turnoff our White customers? Ifwe do not put minority models inour advertisements, will minority consumersgoelsewhere to purchase similarproducts or services?” These are legitimate concerns given the mounting evidence that various source characteristics mayinfluence an individual's re actions to a persuasive message. For instance, sources that are perceived as more attractive, credible, and similar to the message recipient aremore persuasive than the ir counter parts in delivering the same message (for a review, see Eagly &Chaiken, 1993). A spokesperson's race or ethnicityisoften one of hisorher most readily apparent physical traits; thus, itmay likely influence persuasion. In This chapterwe discuss some of the research that has examined individuals'responses to race or ethnicityin persuasive messages. We first discuss what effect a spokesperson's race has on persuasion, and the n we considerindividual difference, environmental, and contextual variables that may influence who is likely to be influenced by the spokesperson's race and when such