Stout and Rust (1993) offer a thorough retrospection of the different postulates of the role and nature of emotion in advertising:
* affect the thinking response or information processing through mood states (Gardner 1985);
* become associated with the brand, perhaps through classical conditioning (Gorn 1982);
* create a positive attitude toward the ad, which then becomes associated with or transferred to the brand (Ray and Batra 1983);
* enhance information processing (Shimp 1981); and
* transform the use experience (Puto and Wells 1984). (Stout and Rust 1993 p. 61).
A review of all the different theories is impossible, considering the scope of the web site, but two models of how the emotional elements of advertising processing works will be presented.
One model is the Holbrook and Batra's (1987) evaluation of the role of emotions as mediators of consumer responses to advertising. The other is the integrative model of information processing from advertisements by MacInnis and Jaworski (1989). These models were chosen because they are integrative and they still have an impact on advertising theory.
Emotions as mediators of responses to advertising
The approach presented by Holbrook and Batra (1987) expands the concept of affect to encompass all the range of emotions instead of the traditional view of affect as a unidimensional variable.
The communication model that the authors use is the next figure:
This model establishes the mediating role of attitude toward the ad as a variable that intervenes between advertising content and attitude toward the brand. But first, it is important to define what is an attitude. Attitude is "the consumer's predisposition to respond e favorably or unfavorably to a particular ad" (Assael 1995, p. 736).
The results of this integrative research are separated in two subjects, the synthesis of ad content and the emotional responses in categories and the direct and mediated effects of the model's elements.
In the 72 TV commercials analyzed, the researchers found six dimensions that explain the different contents:
Ads with a Positive relation Negative relation * Emotional AT&T, Pepsi Maytag Mundane Maxwell House Citibank Citi One Cerebral General Electric YooHoo Threatening Allstate, Dr. Schol Diet Slice Sexy Mink Difference Pepperidge Farm Personal Bahamas Maxwell House (* Do not confuse this content dimension with an emotional response. The first is what the ad message tells to the consumer and the second is what is the emotional outcome of watching a certain commercial)
While almost all of the advertisements are explained by the brand, others need more explanation of the content of the ad. For example, the Citibank ad had a negative relation to the mundane dimension because the commercial narrated the story of a frustrated consumer that transforms into a werewolf. Undeniably, this is not an ordinary ad for a bank.
After applying a comprehensive index of emotional responses, the analysis of the data showed that there are three principal components of emotional responses. They were interpreted as:
Component Examples Ads that showed +/- relations Positive Negative Pleasure Cheerfulness, love, nostalgia Pepsi, AT&T Anacin Arousal Dangerous, frenetic activities Nike Tide Domination Helplessness, authority figures Military Budweiser
Effects and mediators of the model's elements
Ad content =====> Emotional responses
The pleasure dimension encompassed emotional, mundane and personal factors in a positive relation. Meanwhile, threatening ad copy had a negative effect on pleasure. Arousal responded very negatively to mundane content, but positively to emotional, cerebral and relevant advertising. Finally, threatening advertising contributed positively to the domination dimension.
Ad content =====> Attitude toward the ad
In the direct effect of the ad content on attitude toward the ad the authors found positive contributions from emotional and cerebral content and negative contributions from mundane and threatening ad copy
Emotional response =====> Attitude toward the ad
The dimensions of emotional response affect the attitude toward the ad with significant contributions from pleasure, arousal and domination. The latter dimension showed a negative effect.
Emotional response =====> Attitude toward the brand
Attitude toward the ad =====> Attitude toward the brand
After a series of conditions were checked, the authors suggested that "emotions and the attitude toward the ad mediate the relationship between content factors and the attitude toward the brand, but that some direct effect of content factors on attitude toward the brand remains, mostly due to the direct positive contribution of cerebral content" (Holbrook and Batra 1987, p. 416).
If a researcher is concerned with the effects of emotional ad copy, the conclusion is that this kind of messages has a positive effect in the pleasure and arousal emotional responses and contributes positively to the attitude towards the ad. Finally, the effect on the brand is directly significant with a cerebral appeal, not with an emotional ad.
However, if the attention is focused on the emotional responses of the consumer the model provided by MacInnis and Jaworski (1989) offers a different and complementary picture.
Information processing from advertisements
The model proposed by MacInnis and Jaworski (1989) suggests that emotional and cognitive responses to an advertisement depend on the level of processing and representative operations and at the same time both responses affect the process of brand attitude formation.
The researchers define the level of processing as depth of understanding about the brand (MacInnis and Jaworski 1989, p. 5). As a person increases her attention on a brand and as greater cognitive abilities are designated to brand analysis, the individual is more capable of greater understanding of the brand, its benefits, and its implications for the self. Thus, the two key elements needed for a deep level of brand processing are increased attention and allocated capacity
The authors propose six levels of brand processing. The labels are numerical, 1 through 6, representing increasing levels of processing. At lower levels the attention is focused primarily on a secondary task (for example, while watching TV a person may be involved in a conversation) and the allocated capacity performs a feature analysis. This analysis is defined as the encoding of salient properties, that is features that are the most prominent, noticeable or conspicuous, of the ad.
At higher levels of brand processing, the attention is directed exclusively to the ad and the capacity allocated to the brand is high. At these levels a consumer creates constructive processes and role-taking operations. With the former, the consumer uses prior knowledge to build new scenarios involving the brand. Meanwhile, at the latter the consumer transcends the advertised information to assume vicariously the role of the source. (e.g. If I watch the ad for the BMW's Z3 Roadster that ties the car with a James Bond movie, I will create in my mind a scene of the movie with me as the leading actor... Not a pretty sight).
The next section presents the six levels and their consequences on brand and ad attitudes and cognitive and emotional responses.
- * Brand and ad attitudes are not formed
- * If a consumer is prompted to form brand attitudes, cognitive and emotional responses to (1) salient ad features and (2) the viewing context will be the strongest determinants of brand attitudes.
- * Attitudes toward the ad and brand will be highly correlates. Both attitudes will be ephemeral (MacInnis and Jaworski 1989 p. 9).
- * Cognitive and emotional responses to salient ad cues will be strongest determinants of brand attitudes
- * Cognitive and emotional responses to the exposure context and salient features on the ad will also affect brand attitudes.
- * Ad and brand attitudes are likely to be highly correlated
- * Repeated associations of the brand with affectively laden stimuli contained within the ad make the brand a conditioned stimulus to the affective response (MacInnis and Jaworski 1989 p. 10).
- * Cognitive and emotional responses to the credibility of the ad, the comprehensibility of the ad, and attribute/benefit beliefs generated through schematic inferences will be the strongest determinants of brand attitude.
- * Cognitive and emotional responses to the credibility and comprehensibility of the ad influence brand attitudes partially through the mediational effect of attitude toward the ad.
- * When needs are utilitarian (e.g., resolution of a problem), negative feelings elicited by salient ad cues (1) need not have a negative impact on brand attitudes but (2) may negatively affect attitude toward the ad.
- * When needs are expressive (social or aesthetic needs), few negative feelings are likely to be elicited automatically. Elicited positive feelings will affect both ad and brand attitudes.
- * The mediational effect of the ad attitude on the brand attitude will be weaker when the ad stimulates utilitarian versus expressive needs.
- * When needs are utilitarian and the consumer is engaged in meaning analysis, salient cues that communicate the brand's ability to solve functional problems will serve as heuristic indicators of brand benefits.
- * When needs are expressive and the consumer is engaged in meaning analysis, salient cues that communicate the brand's ability to communicate emotional, symbolic, or ego-related meaning will serve as heuristic indicators of brand benefits (MacInnis and Jaworski 1989 p. 11-12).
- * Cognitive and emotional responses based on the importance, persuasiveness, and relevance of ad cues, and cognitive responses reflecting the integration of salient and non salient ad information, will be the strongest determinants of brand attitudes.
- * Cognitive and emotional responses based on the importance, persuasiveness, and relevance of ad cues, affect brand attitudes partially through the mediational influence of brand beliefs and partially through the mediational effect of the attitude toward the ad.
- * Cognitive and emotional responses automatically elicited to salient ad cues have a weak effect on ad and brand attitudes (MacInnis and Jaworski 1989 p. 13).
- * Responses based on emphatic identification with the characters and situations in the ad will be strongest determinants of brand attitudes.
- * Responses based on emphatic identification with the characters and situations in the ad influence brand attitudes partially through the mediational effect of brand beliefs and partially through the mediational effect of the attitude toward the ad.
- * Factors inherent in the ad, such as its verisimilitude, coordination of cues, or the availability of emotional cues, may limit consumers' ability or opportunity to engage in a role-taking processing operation.
- * The more complex the processing operation, the more intense are consumers' emotional responses to ads (MacInnis and Jaworski 1989 p. 14).
- * Cognitive and emotional responses related to imagined product consumption experiences are the strongest determinants of bran attitudes.
- * The relationship between attitudes toward the ad and brand is relatively weak (MacInnis and Jaworski 1989 p. 15).
Due to the scope of this site, it is not possible to describe the implications of all the levels. However as an example if I am at a level 6 processing when I see a Marlboro advertisement, I will picture myself in a bucolic scene having a cigarette. However, it may happen that I have an excellent attitude toward the ad but I could not care less for the Marlboro brand.
The consequences of this model on emotional responses are clear cut. First, emotional responses to ads originate from various sources (viewing context, attended features, salient cues, the persuasiveness of the message, constructed images, role taking). Second, emotions are formed in different ways (Automatically, physical or psychological association of stimuli within the ad). Third, under certain circumstances, emotions can have opposite effects on ad attitudes and brand attitudes. Fourth, emotions have various degrees of influence on attitudes toward the brand at different levels of brand processing (MacInnis and Jaworski 1989).
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