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aan derden, niet- · PDF file 2 THE EFFECTIVENESS OF HUMOROUS VERSUS RATIONAL APPEALS IN PRINT ADVERTISING FOR UTILITARIAN AND HEDONIC PRODUCTS ABSTRACT (ENG) Are there golden rules

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  • UNIVERSITEIT GENT

    FACULTEIT POLITIEKE EN SOCIALE WETENSCHAPPEN

    Wetenschappelijk artikel

    TIM DE GEYTER

    MASTERPROEF COMMUNICATIEWETENSCHAPPEN afstudeerrichting COMMUNICATIEMANAGEMENT

    PROMOTOR: PROF. DR. VEROLINE CAUBERGHE

    COMMISSARIS: DR. ERLINDE CORNELIS

    COMMISSARIS: DR. KATARINA PANIC

    ACADEMIEJAAR 2009 - 2010

    THE EFFECTIVENESS OF HUMOROUS VERSUS RATIONAL APPEALS IN PRINT ADVERTISING FOR UTULITARIAN AND

    HEDONIC PRODUCTS

    aantal woorden: 9418

  • 2

    THE EFFECTIVENESS OF HUMOROUS VERSUS RATIONAL APPEALS IN PRINT ADVERTISING FOR UTILITARIAN AND HEDONIC

    PRODUCTS

    ABSTRACT (ENG)

    Are there golden rules to be respected concerning the use of humor in advertising?

    The omnipresence of humor in commercial messages contrasts sharply with the empirical

    inconsistencies about its effects on persuasion and credibility. This study makes an attempt to

    contribute to this debate and is based upon two classic conceptual frameworks; the ‘Elaboration

    Likelihood Model’ (ELM) and the ‘Product Color Matrix’ (PCM).

    A between subject factorial experiment among 263 respondents was designed to examine

    whether humor is more appropriate for high or low involvement products and for utilitarian or hedonic

    products. The results show that a rational appeal enhances the credibility of high involvement

    products. Humorous appeals on the contrary have a positive effect on the credibility of low

    involvement products. Nevertheless, there is no moderating role of product involvement or product

    type on the effectiveness of humor in advertising. Although men rated the humorous ads significantly

    higher on perceived humor, this higher likeability of the ads did however not turn out into increased

    brand attitudes and purchase intention.

    The mediating effect of ad attitudes supports the conceptualization that humor (positively)

    influences brand attitudes through the attitude towards the ad. This implicates that a humorous

    advertisement can cause a higher likeability of the ad and consequently evokes more favorable

    feelings towards the brand.

    KEYWORDS

    Humor, advertising effectiveness, utilitarian, hedonic, involvement, PCM, Credibility, mediator,

    moderator, ELM

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    SAMENVATTING (NED)

    Zijn er gouden regels omtrent humor in reclame?

    De alomtegenwoordigheid van humor in commerciële boodschappen staat in schril contrast met de

    empirische inconsistentie over de effecten van humor op de geloofwaardigheid en overtuigingskracht

    van reclame. Dit onderzoek poogt een bijdrage te leveren aan dit debat en is gebaseerd op twee

    conceptuele schema’ s; het ‘Elaboration Likelihood Model’ (ELM) en de ‘Product Color Matrix’

    (PCM).

    Door middel van een between subject factorial design (tussen-persoondesign) werd bij 263

    respondenten nagegaan of humor beter geschikt is voor hoge of lage betrokkenheidsproducten en voor

    utilitaire of hedonistische producten. De resultaten tonen aan dat een rationele appeal de

    geloofwaardigheid van hoge betrokkenheidsproducten verhoogt. Een humoristische appeal

    daarentegen, heeft een positieve invloed op de geloofwaardigheid van lage betrokkenheidsproducten.

    Er is echter geen modererend effect van betrokkenheid van het product of van product type (utilitair of

    hedonistisch) van humor op reclame effectiviteit. Hoewel de mannelijke respondenten de advertenties

    significant hoger scoorden op waargenomen humor dan de vrouwelijke respondenten, leidt dit niet tot

    verhoogde merkattitudes en koopintentie.

    Dit onderzoek bevestigt eveneens dat de invloed van humor op merkattitudes volledig

    gemedieerd wordt door de attitudes ten opzichte van de advertentie. Dit impliceert dat een

    humoristische reclame kan leiden tot een verhoogde aantrekkelijkheid van de advertentie en zal

    bijgevolg positieve gevoelens ten opzichte van het merk oproepen.

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    INTRODUCTION

    In the past few decades, numerous studies have been dedicated to the effects of humor in advertising.

    Nevertheless, they seldom lead to univocal results. Academics generally agree that humor does attract

    the attention, (Sternthal, Craig, 1973, p.17) but there is still discussion about the effectiveness of

    humor on brand recall, brand attitude and purchase intention when used in advertisements. The lack of

    empirical consistency contrasts sharply with the ubiquitous use of humor in advertising. Various

    researchers inquired into the use of rational and emotional - or more specific- humorous advertising

    appeals and found out that humor is present in 15 to 42 percent of US advertising messages

    (Weinberger, Spotts and Parson, 1997; McCullough, 1992).

    Together with the increasing use of humor in advertising, there is also a growing interest in the

    academic research of the effectiveness of humorous appeals. Several researchers however did not

    succeed in generalizing their results. Chattopadhy and Basu (1990) emphasized the need for a

    paradigm shift; they feel that researchers should ask ‘when’ the use of humor is effective, rather than

    wondering ‘whether’ humor in advertising leads to better results. It is important to take into account

    different moderating variables such as prior brand evaluation (Chattopadhy and Basu, 1990), need for

    cognition (Zhang, 1996; Geuens and De Pelsmacker, 2002) and also product type (Weinberger, Spotts,

    Campbell and Parsons, 1995).

    In the early days, there was hardly any belief in the persuasiveness of humor in advertising.

    Advertisements were not designed to entertain, but to inform. This can be derived from quotes as

    “people do not buy from clowns” (Claude Hopkins, 1923) and “Good copywriters have always resisted

    the temptation to entertain” (David Ogilvy, 1963). This assumption, however, evolved into an

    increasing belief and conviction that humor can be a convincing communication strategy as well. Even

    David Ogilvy had to reconsider his vision; he had “reason to believe that...humor can now sell”

    (1982). In addition, creative advertisers nowadays proudly present campaigns relying upon humor.

    Those campaigns have not only won prestigious prices, but were able to display positive sales figures

    as well. Few research has put emphasize on the credibility of humor in advertising. This research will

    make an attempt to answer the question whether some products are more suited to be communicated in

    a humorous manner and whether the credibility suffers when using comedy in commercial print

    messages. Therefore, a classification matrix has been made, based on the Product Color Matrix

    (Spotts, et al, 1997, p. 21). A minor adjustment on both theoretical classifications was made: the think

    – feel dimension was replaced by a utilitarian – hedonic dimension, which basically are other terms to

    define to level of functionalism and pleasure. The choice for print advertisements is quite obvious;

    advertisements in magazines and newspapers are still manifold and account for 48% of the total

    advertising expenditures (De Pelsmacker, Geuens and Van den Bergh, 2005). Moreover, it appeared to

    be a useful medium to manipulate the ads. First, relevant literature will be discussed and hypotheses

    will be developed. Second, the research and its results will be described. The last part of this article

    consists of a discussion about the findings and suggestions for further research.

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    THEORETICAL BACKGROUND

    Influence of humor on attitudes and purchase intention The results on the effects of humor on brand attitude are unclear, because no univocal results have

    been found. Sternthal and Craig (1973, p. 17) state that humor attracts more attention, but the

    persuasiveness is not greater than that of serious appeals. This conclusion is being supported by

    Brooker (1981, p. 39), who found little to no results on the effectiveness of humorous and rational

    messages for the same object. From a marketing point of view, understanding the role of attitude

    towards the ad (Aad) and attitude towards the brand (Ab) is impor

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