Company Examples for Chapter 7: Persuasive Messages

Google Memo Argues Against Their Diversity Programs (August 2017)

Also a good example for Chapter 2 and others, the memo written by a Google software engineer illustrates controversy about diversity programs. The author argues that more women aren't in technology positions partly because of biological differences. He was fired, which conservatives say exemplifies Google's "cult-like" culture on the issue.


Marriott CEO Writes an Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump (November 2016)

Arne Sorenson Letter to Donald TrumpArne Sorenson's letter to President-elect Trump illustrates principles of persuasion (Chapter 7) and can be used to discuss medium choice (Chapter 1). How does the letter reflect Marriott's business interests? Why did Sorenson choose LinkedIn? 


Verizon and Union Battle Over Worker Pay and Taxes (April 2016) CWA press release

I used these two examples in class for students to compare. I asked students to work in two separate groups and analyze either Verizon's or the union's messages to identify persuasive strategies. These are great examples to discuss which strategies work best and why. They also present an interesting window into union negotiations.


Starboard Value Tries to Replace Yahoo Board (March 2016)

The activist investment firm Starboard Value tried to overthrow the Yahoo board of directors as it has ousted Darden's board in 2014-with aggressive language and a persuasive presentation.  Students can analyze persuasive strategies in the letter to shareholders.


SeaWorld Tries to Restore Its Image (March 2016 and earlier)

In addition to the SeaWorld messages in Chapter 7 of the tenth edition, students can analyze the company's communications to end its orca breeding program.

You are also welcome to use this case study. I have found students to be highly engaged by the situation, and I have used this assignment as a complement to the case study.


Older Examples and Videos

Written Messages

Several customer response letters from Turning Stone Casino.

Internal company update message from John Chambers to all Cisco employees.

AIG resignation letter from an EVP at American International Group (AIG) following the financial crisis. Useful to discuss persuasive strategies and to compare arguments. Published in the New York Times.

American Airlines message to flight attendants. Useful to discuss audience analysis, communication objectives, structure, tone, and medium choice.

Email from Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO, to his management team about the "commoditization" of the brand.

Many examples of fraud emails. Useful to discuss principles of persuasion and ethics.

Activity for students to analyze three customer service letters (written by students). I use this early in the semester partly to discuss my grading criteria.

Verizon CEO's letter to employees explaining his perspective of the union strike, August 2011.

Barnes and Noble's pitch to former Borders customers.

Consumer group's complaint letter about carcinogens in J&J's Baby Shampoo and J&J's response statement.

Cruise lines reassure customers after the Costa Concordia disaster:

Victoria's Secret responds to child labor allegations.

In-N-Out Burger's response to the shutdown of its meat supplier.

Beef Products Inc.'s response to the "pink slime" controversy.

Two cease-and-desist letters to compare: the Olympics Committee's (formal, legal) and Jack Daniel's (nicer, conversational).

Hedge fund CEO's letter requests that the Yahoo Board terminate the CEO for having misleading information on his resume.

Nordstrom email to employees supporting same-sex marriage.

Fresh Direct letter updates customers after Hurricane Sandy.

Asiana Airlines' press releases  after the 2013 crash. 

PETA article PETA's article criticizing "no-kill" policies after controversy at their own shelter. Read more about the situation here.

Carnival's email to past guests after several ship problems. Read more here.

H&R Block defends itself after criticism from TurboTax. Read the email to employees and open letter to clients.

Target's statement announcing the CEO's departure.

Heartbleed emails to compare (companies informing customers of the computer security issue).

Mozilla board chair's announcement that the CEO resigned over the same-sex marriage controversy.

Head of job bank's harsh email and apology.

HP's email asking remote employees to work at the office.

Starbucks' open letter to customers about not bringing firearms into stores.

NRA's statement to gun owners: "Good Citizens and Good Neighbors: The Gun Owners' Role."

Target's email to customers about security breach. 

Strong letter from Starboard to Yahoo about performance and the future of the company, 2014.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon's statement about a racist chant at the University of Oklahoma and the university president's expulsion letter, 2015.

Alex Rodriguez hand-written letter apologizing-again, 2015.

TurboTax apologizes for system changes and issues, 2015. 


Giovanni Ribisi (Seth) in the movie Boiler Room sells stock to an unsuspecting buyer. Useful to show examples of logos, pathos, and ethos. Download the handout and possible answers.

Taco Bell CEO responds to criticism of the company's taco meat. Useful to discuss persuasion to restore image. Read more here. Here are two ads that accompanied the campaign:

Bob Eckert of Mattel discusses toy recalls as people rate "believability." Useful to discuss how people are persuaded with logos, pathos, and ethos.

Domino's president responds to the YouTube video posted by two employees. Useful to discuss persuasion to restore image. Watch an overview of the story and employee video

AOL doesn't allow a customer to cancel his account. Here is AOL's apology/response. What is interesting about the story is that it isn't the first time AOL was cited for failing to cancel accounts on request.

British Petrolum's commercial after the oil spill, rated by the public. Useful to show the public's reaction to the ad. Read more here.

Netflix CEO apologizes for lack of communication and introduces Quickster.

FedEx senior VP apologizes for the viral video of a PC monitor tossed over a fence.

Royal Caribbean reassures customers after the Costa Concordia accident.

Apple CEO Tim Cook responds to tax criticsm.

Carnival Cruise CEO holds a news conference to explain the Triumph ship situation.

The NRA's press conference after the Newtown, CT, school shooting, 2013. Read more here

GM CEO Mary Barra answers tough questions about product safety, 2014.

GM CEO Mary Barra's video message to employees, 2014.

McDonald's "Our Food, Your Questions" campaign, 2014.

Procter & Gamble's "Like a Girl" video, 2014.

Bill Cosby's discussion with AP about sexual assault allegations, 2014.

Dr. Oz's video response to criticism about his TV show and product promotion.

UK Cancer Research shows clever commercial about failing to detect cancer lumps, 2015.

Ober's false-cause fallacy, 2015.

Conan O'Brien pokes fun at Taco Bell (paid commercial), 2015.

JetBlue's video about plane etiquette, 2015.