Karen, Kason, Man, Winnie: Week 9 "Theoretical Reflection"

Theoretical Reflection: Minimal Effects Model—“Two-Step Flow of Influence”

Nowadays, with the constant exposure to mass media, we see opinion leaders and spokespersons endorsing for various products and services, from diet plans to fast food restaurants. The minimal effects model and the “two-step flow of influence” model are frequently seen and used in the mass media, especially in advertisements. In this reflection, we have chosen McDonald’s McCafe TV commercial, featuring Moses Chan (陳豪) as an opinion leader in coffee drinking.

Firstly, the minimal effects model argues that the media impact on the public is “weak and short-lived” and aims to “reinforce existing belief”. Meanwhile, the “two-step flow of influence” model explains that the media uses opinion leaders as a “middleman” to influence the target audience. Because the targeted individual is active, s/he can choose what information and messages to accept and ignore. However, opinion leaders often influence individuals easier compared to “one-step” (media influence target audience directly), possibly because people relate more and feel a stronger credibility towards opinion leaders.

With the trend of drinking coffee becoming many peoples’ habit and hobby, last year, the Tsit Wing International Holdings Limited (Tsit Wing), one of Hong Kong’s leading food and beverages supplier, produced and sponsored a special TV program “Coffee Confidential” (品味咖啡), a show dedicated to coffee. The episodes were hosted by Moses, a famous actor of TVB, introducing the development and culture of drinking coffee. Every episode has different themes. By presenting various cultures of making coffee, the history, rare coffee beans, and the making coffee competition in the show, Tsit Wing aims at exciting people’s curiosity and interests in coffee, hoping the audience would drink coffee more often after they get more knowledge of the coffee culture.

“Drinking coffee is not only an enjoyment, but it also represents one’s attitude of life,” said Moses, sharing his opinion about his favorite drink. This TV program gave him an image of a professional in coffee, which also aroused the interest and attention of the public. Because of hosting this program, Moses’ reputation and social status were suddenly enhanced from an actor to a coffee expert, resulting in being selected as a coffee opinion leader for McDonald’s McCafe.

After the broadcast of “Coffee Confidential”, the “coffee expert” image has been labeled on Moses, later becoming the spokesperson of McCafe. Actually, at the beginning of its establishment, McCafe only made use of some cartoon graphics in its TV commercials, and the main elements of the overall campaign was to sell romantic feelings. Recently, McCafe wants to re-position itself as a professional barista. And that is why it hired Moses as its spokesman. In the latest McCafe TV commercials, Moses was presented in smart-casual wearing to give out a friendly but trustworthy image. “Perfect!” he said after tasting McCafe’s cappuccino at the end of the commercials. This seems to give sense of qualifying McCafe’s coffee by the general-regarded coffee expert, Moses Chan.

In addition, some may not know that the sponsor of “Coffee Confidential” and the supplier of McCafe is actually the same company—Tsit Wing. It is believed that Tsit Wing specially sponsored that TV program in order to establish the coffee professional image of Moses in order to break the path for McCafe to reform its image.

Meanwhile, there are many well-established coffee shops in Hong Kong, like Starbucks, Pacific Coffee, and various small cafes. Comparatively, McCafe is just a new business of McDonald’s in Hong Kong. In the perception of some general publics, McCafe may not be as sophisticated as those famous coffee shops. They may even wonder whether McCafe has the capability to provide good quality coffee. This may be one of the reasons why McCafe is lagged behind from Starbucks and Pacific Coffee in terms of sales, reputation, and so on.

However, Moses, becoming an opinion leader, can influence the purchase decision of the general public. Since he is interpreted as a coffee expert, his insights towards coffee will be regarded as an indicator when the general publics are making their purchase decision. Thus, by acting as an opinion leader for McCafe, Moses aims to reinforce his own expertise in coffee drinking, emphasizing McCafe’s high quality coffee to the target customers. Some people will simply switch their choice or begin to try McCafe because they believe in the credibility of Moses. In this sense, the preference of Moses serves as an indication to distinguish between good or bad coffee.

By this sample, we can see that a credible opinion leader can pose an influential effect to the publics. Of course, it is still up to individuals to choose whether to believe Moses’ choice of “high quality coffee” from McCafe, but by using an opinion leader as a middleman, credibility is definitely reinforced. More importantly, a credible opinion leader can boost the confidence and motivation of the publics towards a product.

McCafe TV Commercials:

McCafe Cappuccino TVC 1


McCare Cappuccino TVC 2


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