Blog 6: Persuade Me

I think persuasion is one of the most fascinating topics in agricultural communication theory. While the chapter this week is in the “face-to-face” communication section of the book, many of the concepts apply to mediated communication efforts. The reading from JAC this week illustrates this point well. I think this study does an excellent job of incorporating theory into a study. As you read the JAC article, was your understanding of the elaboration likelihood model (ELM) changed? Did you agree with the authors’ application of ELM? What would you have done differently? Are there other theories of persuasion that you see as more appropriate for this study? Or ones that should have also been included?

The world around us is constantly seeking to persuade us to do something. As you study persuasion you will become more and more aware of persuasive techniques being utilized in your everyday life. This may be a friend or significant other trying to persuade you to go to the lake instead of studying. Perhaps the persuasion is less subtle and comes in the form of advertising. What agricultural ads or videos have you seen recently that utilize persuasive appeals? Post an example and tell us which appeals you think are used in the example you post. What other theories of persuasion do you see represented in your example? In the spirit of the comparison study we read in JAC this week, what anti-agricultural ads or videos have you seen with persuasive appeals? How does the anti-ag one stack up in relation to theories of persuasion?

21 thoughts on “Blog 6: Persuade Me

  1. While reading the JAC article, my understanding of the ELM theory deepened. This theory makes perfect sense to me, and I can see how it would be beneficial to agricultural communicators. If we understand how our audience is perceiving our messages, and how that affects perceived credibility, we can better prepare out communications pieces to have the persuasive effect we desire. I think the researchers in this study appropriately applied ELM methods to their content analysis; however, I think it would have been beneficial to also have live participants rather than just conducting a content analysis. Utilizing people in this study would have allowed the researchers to ask in-depth questions about how the messages were generally perceived by an audience. I think ELM theory works well for this study when compared to other theories of persuasion. The heuristic model of persuasion is also closely related to the ELM theory and would have worked as well.

    No recent agricultural advertisements come to mind when thinking about persuasion specifically. What does come to mind, however, is the 2013 Super Bowl commercial for Ram trucks, the famous “So God Made a Farmer.” While the advertisement was persuasion to buy a Ram truck (eye roll), it certainly put a good word out for the agriculture industry and had people talking for weeks. The obvious anti-agriculture advertisement that uses persuasion is the Chipotle scare crow video. This mini-series persuades viewers to drop foods produced conventionally due to alleged mistreatment of animals. I think these videos play on the cognitive dissonance theory. People want to do what is right, and if they think animals are being mistreated they will change their consumer behavior to better align with their morals. While definitely an effective tactic, they are persuading people to buy into further misinformation about our industry.

    -Rachel Waggie

    1. Rachel, I immediately thought of the Super Bowl commercial too! That was the most I have ever seen an agricultural promotional ad get talked about and remembered by people. I definitely agree with you about many ads using cognitive distance theory. I think that many of the anti-agriculture organizations know that they can use Pathos to tug on consumers heart strings so that they think that not supporting conventional agriculture is the ethically right thing to do.

    2. Rachel,

      When reading through the blog post about the topics for the week, this was the first commercial that popped into my head. This has been a long lasting commercial that originally had the purpose of selling a vehicle and the statement “God made a…” has been filled in multiple times with other topics in agriculture as well.

    3. Rachel,

      The “So God Made a Farmer” ad was talked about for months after it first aired. It was wonderful to see people from all industries discuss it. I also immediately thought about the Chipotle video when thinking about anti-ag ads. I agree that they are perpetuating the theme of misinformation around conventional ag.

    4. In the area of interpretation, the action of persuading goes hand in hand constantly. Reading the chapters of persuasion theories, I realize that many of the characteristics that are based on achieving positive change in the audience are similar. I would like to share with the class the principles of interpretation by Dr. Cable and Dr. Berk where the fundamental roots of persuasion can be evidenced.

  2. My basic idea of what ELM model did not change by reading the JAC article, but after I read the article, I felt like I was able to apply the theory and better comprehend what it means. I think that the ELM model is very accurate because I have had conversations with people where I was not persuaded by their argument and looking back, it had little if anything to do with what they were actually saying in their argument, but the way that they went about presenting the argument that dissuaded me.
    I think that they authors did a good job of trying to use the ELM model, but I think they fell short by only doing a content analysis. When I think of people being engaged in an argument and being persuaded, I think that live presentation is a huge factor. I think that this study could be strengthened by talking to some of each of the group’s members and having them present their argument. I think that since many people have such strong opinions about the research topic that it would be interesting to use the Social Judgement Theory in this type of research. I think that it could be interesting to have people from both sides of the argument go through the other’s side’s webpage and see what might persuade them.
    A few agriculture ads that I have seen recently that use persuasion are the Dale Peterson for Ag Commissioner Political Ad, This ad is different from many ads in that it draws a hard line in the sand and I think that it will persuade some people to become strong supporters, while deterring others. Honestly, this ad goes against almost every type of persuasive characteristic in the textbook. He does not establish credibility, his ad is definitely has no similarity to most political ads, he does use some persuasive evidence by throwing in a few facts and statistics, and it is definitely a one-sided message. I think that main theory of persuasion used is the ELM model. Peterson engages his audience to try and help persuade them. He engages with the audience through relating to them and adding almost funny statements to keep you watching. I feel like he says a few off the wall things just to keep viewers watching because they want to see what he says next.
    A huge anti-agriculture ad that popped up a few years ago was the picture of the “sheared” lamb that Peta used and said “Here’s the rest of your wool coat.” I know that I saw this ad quickly combated by many agriculturalists posting pictures of their lambs after being sheared explaining that when don properly, the lamb is not harmed in any way from shearing and many went on the explain the benefits of shearing sheep, not just to the farmer, but also to the sheep itself.

    1. Tabitha-

      I agree that using live subjects would make this study more valuable. The content analysis was good, but for it to be more useful we would need to know how people were reacting.

    2. Tabitha,

      I definitely agree with your thoughts on adding live presentation to the JAC study. Content analysis is relevant, however, in order to really but the ELM theory to the test I think they needed to involve real people in some capacity. The addition of real audiences processing the content and formulating their own opinions would add a great deal of depth to the work.

  3. I found the ELM theory easier to understand and I can see how it would be valuable after reading the article. It’s always helpful for me to read studies that have utilized the theories or case studies to grasp the concept as a whole. I think that the ELM theory could be very useful in agriculture communications when we as communicators are trying to design campaigns. We need to know what resonates the best with people and how to present the information if we want to be successful.
    Like the rest of the class, I think using live subjects could have made this study stronger. If more detailed questions could have been asked to some members of the group, it could have helped gain a deeper understanding. I think overall, the ELM theory was applied well and this study did help me understand it and see where it could be useful in today’s agriculture industry.
    The ELM theory made me think about the study in last weeks discussion, how the general public doesn’t relate to the “we feed the world” slogan anymore. It’s important for communicators to know these things so we can look for more effective ways to promote agriculture.
    The first commercials I thought of were the American Humane Society ads. These commercials show videos and photos of animals being abused to create an emotional reaction in the viewer. This commercials usually involve some type of agriculture clip or photo along with dogs and cats. These ads utilize the cognitive dissonance theory by persuading people not to eat meat or adopt instead of buying from a breeder because they think that will result in less animal abuse overall. They also persuade people to donate money to the organization by causing an emotional effect.

    1. Lexi,

      I agree with your review of the Humane Society’s advertisements. They definitely take a pathos approach in appealing to emotion. Sometimes I wonder how much of a reaction they receive from these ads. However, after learning about persuasion, I can see how drawing on emotions might be enough to persuade viewers into donating or aligning themselves with the organization’s viewpoint.

  4. After reading the JAC article this week, my understanding of the Elaboration Likelihood Model has increased but did not change my mind. In a previous course we talked about ELM and the two different paths to persuasion: the central path and the peripheral path. Going into this weeks reading I was very familiar with what we were reading about. I still have to agree with the statement that this is very useful in agriculture communications and all communications aspects. Having an understanding of what the audience best takes interest in and knowing how to share that information to them in order for the outcome to be success. Through this study it helped me solidify my thoughts on how this could be helpful in the agriculture industry. We have talked for the past weeks about passion of our industry and sharing it but when you put the ELM into process this could change how we look at sharing that information. The audience can take two different paths, the central path which is when the receiver is motivated to think about the message or peripheral in which we must tie it to something that the receiver already thinks positively toward.

    I want to use the same example as Rachel as for the “So God Made A Farmer” Advertisement with the Super Bowl in 2013. This is a perfect example the creators thought that one they might get the central path of connection through the viewers because of their love for agriculture or Paul Harvey. The peripheral path is the Ram Trucks knowing that someone that is a fan of Ram vehicles would get attention from the advertisement as well. This commercial has so many spin offs such as “So God Made a Rancher”, “So God Made an Ag Teacher”, and so many more. A group that is good at creating advertisements that use a patho method is PETA. These advertisements come in many different forms from pictures to videos. In my opinion they take the truth of agriculture and find the exact opposite to share in a graphic way. This gets the readers interested because one the graphic nature of the advertisement or because people want to prove that animals aren’t being treated correctly. This information gains many views and shares for even though the facts of the industry aren’t correct.

    1. Michelle, “So God Made A Farmer” is a great example! I used this in a previous week, and would argue that along with peripheral processing, that commercial exhibits some central processing. It certainly solicits an attitude change, one that tugs on your heart-strings a little. It makes you want to go back to the “good old days;” simpler times.

  5. After reading the article, my basic understanding of ELM did not change. Understanding how our audience perceives our messages will allow us to be more direct in our methods of persuasion. I think the authors applied ELM well in the content analysis, but the argument would have been better if they had participants in the study that told their own personal opinions from each group. Although, I understand that this was meant to be more of a quantitative study rather than a qualitative study. I think the ELM model worked well for this study. The only other theory of persuasion that would have aligned with the ELM model is the heuristic model.

    The semi-recent agriculture campaign that comes to mind is the Beck’s Hybrids “Why I Farm” videos. These videos are partially created as a tribute to American farmers and ranchers and partially as a method of trying to draw on the public’s’ feelings of loving to hear personal stories. These videos take more of a peripheral approach since they are describing peoples’ lives.

    The anti-agriculture video that comes to mind is Chipotle’s scarecrow video. That video tried to convince people that conventional agriculture is the source of animal cruelty and destruction of the environment. They drew on peoples’ feelings by using scare tactics. They wanted to scare and shame the public with straight up lies about the agriculture industry. For a company that cannot survive without conventional farming, they are really trying to destroy the industry that supports them whether they realize that or not.

  6. I appreciated the reinforcement of ELM from both the textbook reading and the JAC article. The JAC article gave adequate elaboration. It was an interesting perspective to think “that receivers are not passive message recipients nor always consciously deliberating or elaborating on persuasive messages. A receiver’s attention depends on how much motivation or ability one has to attend to a persuasive message.” I think that overall, the concept of this study is incredibly interesting. I would appreciate seeing how analytic results from the two organizations social media accounts and their traffic would have aligned with the results from the website hits. In terms of other theories of persuasion, the concepts of “parallel processing” related to the heuristic model, would fit perfectly into this study as well.

    Country Artist, Maggie Rose, wrote a song and created a music video in partnership with Land O’Lakes this summer “She-I-O.” The lyrics tell the story of a farmer daughter and her rich agriculture roots. The video empowers women in the agriculture industry, claiming “She’s the future of the world | Don’t ever say she’s just a girl | We’ve come along and we’re taking it farther | With today’s new old MacDonald farmer.” It is a little tacky for sure, but definitely persuasive. It is more of a peripheral take, using imagery and verbiage to help convince the viewer/listener that women are and can rocking the agricultural world.

    On the less empowering and uplifting side, I think to the internet “sensation,” Food Babe, who staked many claims on food production and nutrition that negatively reflected back on the agriculture industry. She won her audience over by the fear of science minus the facts, convincing blog guests to join the “Food Babe Army” and help to “demand change.” I see much more of a central route to persuasion with Food Babe’s tactics; focusing on the content of the messages, hoping to bring a change of mind of a period of time.

  7. We live and work in a world in which persuasion is an essential skill for almost all of us. It is a key aspect not only in the professional field, but also in the personnel. Persuasion is an aspect that influences all aspects of our life, and not only is it part of public discourse, but interpersonal communication also plays a key role.
    For example, a group of people is obliged to listen to us, they will hardly participate in our proposals, unless they see very clearly that what we are explaining is beneficial for themselves or their organization or their family.

    Therefore, in this case our objective should be to try to change their behavior, but we will hardly achieve it if there are not some common points. It will be necessary to use some of your opinions to create this common base. In other words, we will try to persuade them from their arguments, and not just based on ours. An approach to persuasive communication usually requires certain social skills, such as emotional intelligence, learning to listen, and enhancing verbal and nonverbal communication skills.

    The Elaboration Likehood Model (ELM) is a theory of social psychology when cognitive processing ends, if the cognitive responses are mostly positive, a positive attitude change will occur. If they are mostly negative, there will be a negative attitude change. If it is not clear, the receiver will hesitate and may end up deciding on a peripheral key.

  8. Reading the JAC article improved my understanding of the elaboration likelihood model because it was a good example to apply that theory to. I think the authors choose a good application for ELM because comparing the HSUS and AAA websites provided many avenues for analysis of peripheral and central processing. However, I think the authors could’ve used the heuristic model of persuasion as well to achieve similar results and information.

    I think the #RealPigFarming campaign uses many persuasive appeals to promote animal agriculture. For example, a classmate of mine is on the National Pork Board junior communication team. She regularly posts on Instagram with the #RealPigFarming tag. Her cute picture of a pig with a fact-filled caption exemplifies the foot-in-the-door approach. The cute picture is her first, more peripheral appeal, which gets the audience to “agree” (as passive as it may be) to look at her post, making them more receptive to reading her caption, which contains facts about pig farming. In addition to representing the foot-in-the-door approach and the ELM, her Instagram posts use her credibility as a pig farmer to gain traction, in addition to persuasive evidence in her fact-filled captions.
    Conversely, the TV ads for the Humane Society of the United States use anticlimax order of information, in addition to peripheral persuasive messaging (“Arms of an Angel” and sad-looking pets) to persuade the audience to engage in a minimal justification action: donating. While the ag example has more factually persuasive arguments, the HSUS commercials are effective for low-involvement audiences based on ELM theory.

    1. Elizabeth,

      I enjoyed reading through your discussion. I hadn’t even thought about the Humane Society commercial. I am familiar with that ad and agree with you that they succeeded with their peripheral persuasion message with the somber music and depressed, scared looking pets. Although that is not an ag specific message, it is a great example to think of. I, too, have followed the Real Pig Farming pages and agree that they do a good job of promoting the swine industry by telling the stories of pig farmers. I had a classmate in college who’s family was featured and it was so neat to see someone that I know giving their input and sharing their operation with others.

    2. I also thought of the HSUS ads! It seems they irk me to almost no end at this point. I related them to the cognitive dissonance theory, primarily because of the change in beliefs the ads attempt to spark. I can understand how you relate it to minimal justification, because of the way the ads play on emotions, there is little rationale related to the actions of those who are stirred by the ads alone.

  9. Although my understanding of the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) was not changed after reading the JAC article, I did appreciate the context that was provided by reading about the theory incorporated in a study. For the most part, I agreed with the author’s application of ELM. However, I would have liked to see a more direct connection explained in the article between the elements of the study and either central or peripheral routes as described in ELM. Looking at some of the other theories of persuasion, I think the authors’ application of ELM was best suited for this study.

    A year ago, I saw a new video in the “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner” campaign ( Upon watching the video, I decided it mostly appealed to pathos. Although it isn’t an emotional video by any means, it appeals to emotion by revealing the faces of ordinary people who care for the animals that feed the world. Ethos are also present. I noticed an expertise persuasion strategy. The video features credible sources by focusing on “The People Behind Beef.” Who better to feature in an advertisement for beef than the farmers who produce it? The video also does a good job of providing a two-sided message by featuring others in agriculture who are involved in getting beef on the dinner table instead of solely focusing on the view of farmers.

    An anti-ag advertisement that comes to mind is PETA’s billboard that calls for people in Maryland to stop eating crab ( The billboard uses an appeal to pathos as it tries to present the crab as a person, calling it an individual. I think PETA’s anti-ag advertisement is almost more persuasive than the beef video because of its word choice. The crab billboard creates a sense of urgency and I think the urgency appeals to emotions on a deeper level than the beef video does.

  10. Reading through the article on ELM did enhance my knowledge of the theory. I thought that it was beneficial to have specific examples to relate to. I specifically enjoyed Table 1 of the examples of frames between animal welfare groups and agricultural organizations. All of the wheels started turning when I analyzed the differences in those perspectives. Of course my mind went straight to criticizing the animal welfare groups. As a banker and interacting with a large group of ag producers, I see a lot of these producer’s tax returns and my first thought was, “Farmers work 80+ hours a week and lose large amounts of money on those tax returns just to produce unhealthy food that they can’t even make a profit from, hmmm.” Unfortunately, consumers are not exposed to enough persuasive efforts on behalf of agricultural organizations and see too much of the large animal welfare organizations such as PETA and the Humane Society. Like many of my classmates, I agree that the study would have been more credible had it used live subjects.

    Although not one specific example comes to mind, I recall many advertisements in regards to non GMO products. Those ads used the central route by alluding that GMOs are not safe to consume. Many of these same ads use the peripheral route and show images of small children who appear happier and healthier than a child who may have consumed a product with GMOs. Cheerios is one of the many brands who use this form of persuasion.

    On the contrary, I can think of two semi-agricultural ads which give agriculture a positive face. Ocean Spray shows real cranberry farmers telling consumers about their process of making their juice and the care they have in making the best possible product. The second, and similar example are the older Florida’s Natural orange juice commercials. They
    informed/persuaded consumers that their oranges are all grown in the United States which was the central route, but also used the peripheral route by having a farmer hand each shopper their container of juice. This gave the overall message that they are not removed from the production of that orange juice as they would be with other brands. From the introduction of these two products, the marketing efforts of these ads changed in order to cater to the needs/concerns that consumers have when selecting their everyday products.

    The anti-ag and pro-ag examples used above both use a large amount of ethos within their persuasion. Unfortunately, I would argue that anti-ag’s peripheral route was more effective using children to push their message. That resonates more with a consumer, when the message has to do with the well-being of their young child compared to farmer John handing me my orange juice in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Having seen this information and comparison, it will hopefully allow pro-ag organizations to become more effective in their persuasive efforts.

  11. I don’t feel as though the article really changed my outlook on the ELM theory, however I do feel it is a necessity for agriculturalists to effectively communicate. Often times the way a message is relayed is equally if not more important to how the message is received, this is especially relevant in persuasion. I feel that the authors were trying to portray that, but didn’t quite cover the entire concept with the model they used. A study with live interaction and viable feedback would have been extremely beneficial.

    When considering a persuasive advertisement for agriculture I, like Victoria, thought of the “Why I Farm” campaign. I agree that they use the peripheral approach since the narrative is primarily descriptive of the subjects in the videos. This draws a viewer in and pulls them towards being champions for agriculture as they begin to relate to the farmers behind the produce aisles.

    Obviously the most known anti agriculture persuasion would be Humane Society commercials. I most certainly get tired of hearing Sarah McLachlan belt sad melodies that prey on the emotions of the public, however the ads do in fact work. The cognitive dissonance theory can be seen in action with these particular ads as they inspire action to “adopt not shop” and provide relief funds.

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