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Megan B. Shreffler

The Internet has become a competitive platform from which organizations can market their services and consumers can garner information through electronic word of mouth (eWOM). While eWOM has been examined in many different contexts, little research has been done on the impact of eWOM in a sport setting. This study examined the persuasiveness of eWOM on the attitudes and behaviors of consumers through online reviews of the Chicago Bears Bar, a hypothetical brand extension of the Chicago Bears. Through an online experiment with the elaboration likelihood model providing a theoretical framework, 2 major findings emerged from this research. First, it was found that the attitudes of highly identified fans are influenced by high-quality reviews. Second, the behaviors of highly identified fans were significantly influenced by high-quality reviews. Both findings suggest that highly identified fans prefer to align with messages that are refective of their attitudes toward a brand and its extensions. The results of the study provide significant theoretical and managerial implications.

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Megan B. Shreffler and Stephen D. Ross

Word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing has the potential to effectively contribute to revenue generation as sport organizations continue to create and implement marketing strategies to build and maintain relationships with consumers. While there has been a plethora of research on WOM marketing in the general business literature, the magnitude of the phenomenon must be examined separately in a sport setting because of the uniqueness of sport fans as consumers. This study examined the effect of the transference of personal experiences through WOM activity on brand associations, team identification, and the behavioral intentions of college basketball fans. Through a 4-stage data-collection approach in which both positive and negative messages were used, it was found that WOM activity has a significant impact on some of the measured constructs. The results of the study suggest that negative WOM has a greater impact on consumers than positive WOM, providing significant theoretical and managerial implications.

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Megan B. Shreffler, Meg G. Hancock, and Samuel H. Schmidt

Unlike traditional media, which frames female athletes in sexualized manners and in socially accepted roles such as mothers and girlfriends, user-controlled social-media Web sites allow female athletes to control the image and brand they wish to portray to the public. Using Goffman’s theory of self-presentation, the current study aimed to investigate how female athletes were portraying themselves via their Twitter avatar pictures. A total of 207 verified Twitter avatars of female athletes from 6 sports were examined through a content analysis. The avatars from each player were coded using the following themes: athlete as social being, athlete as promotional figure, “selfie,” athletic competence, ambivalence, “girl next door,” and “sexy babe.” The results revealed that athletic competence was the most common theme, followed by selfie and athlete as social being. Thus, when women have the opportunity to control their image through social media they choose to focus on their athletic identities.