Softening the Blow: The Power of Rhetorical Frames Used by Social Media Influencers with Sponsorship Disclosure

Eunjin Kim, Esther Thorson, Margaret Duffy, Heather Shoenberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study explores how social media influencers’ (SMIs) endorsements preceding commercials can increase positive response, even when sponsorship is disclosed. We employed three rhetorical frames—transparency, co-orientation, and downplaying—in a real-world test scenario involving TV commercials for two energy corporations with problematic reputations. A national survey with 644 respondents revealed that each rhetorical frame significantly bolstered positive attitudes toward the featured corporations. These attitude shifts were mediated by reductions in persuasion knowledge and increases in message credibility. Our findings not only support but also extend existing theories on endorsement effectiveness by integrating the insights from rhetorical theory. It shows that understanding the nuances of ‘how’ a message is delivered, through rhetorical framing, can be as crucial as ‘what’ is being said.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-183
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Interactive Advertising
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Marketing

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