The most current controversial public relations cmapaign using coercion is the fast food chain MCDonald’s. The target of the add is not to sell the products, but to convince children that they can be like any of their favorite characters. This is done through each add using all of the following: Cartoon characters, television personalities, movie stars, and sports figures, as well as displays with kids’ meal toys, three dimensional cardboard cut-outs, and play areas.(R.Ferdman. 2015 washington post). This is highly unethical as the children targeted are aged between 3-12. These children are not old enough to make their own decisions and are far too easily manipulated.


Example of questionable tactics.

Source: YouTube.

Whereas public relation campaigns revolve around a message being clearly sent to the public in such a way that the overall agenda is interpreted in a positive and constructive manner. The objective message of a campaign can be either persuaded or coerced into the target audience mind. Persuasion is the voluntary change in the target’s belief or action, whereas coercion employs the use of threats to ensure the target feels they have no other options but to concede.


Source: Google images.


In my public relations campaign I would not use questionable tactics to achieve my objectives as they are beyond the bounds of professional communication. I consider ethical persuasion to be the “principle of reciprocation”(M. Kaptein et al 2009). Essentially the tactic ensures that one person must repay another in a later stage for what they have been gifted now. The rule allows for a polite, yet forceful gifting with confidence of a return, the sense of debt ensures that both parties leave the agreement with a victory.

Eliminating questionable means ensures that my campaign is honest, ethical and true. By diverting these views would potentially compromise the entirety of the organisation resulting in failure.



Wilcox, D, Cameron, G, Reber, B, & Shin, J 2013, Think Public Relations, n.p.: 2013 edition., CQUniversity Library Catalogue, EBSCOhost, viewed 20 May 2016.

Washington Post. 2016. The disturbing ways that fast food chains disproportionately target black kids – The Washington Post. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 May 2016].

M. Kaptein et al., &ldquo,Can You Be Persuaded? Individual Differences in Susceptibility to Persuasion,&rdquo, Human-Computer Interaction&mdash,Interact 2009, LNCS 5726, Springer, 2009, pp. 115-118.



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