The Effectiveness of Emotional and Rational Advertising Messages in Positive and Negative Contexts

EXTENDED ABSTRACT - The purpose of the study is to investigate the impact of positive and negative media context (context style), rational and emotional advertising stimuli (message style), and the interaction effects between context and style on ad and brand responses in a Polish context. One hundred Polish youngsters are randomly divided into one of the four experimental conditions (2X2 between subjects design). Each group is exposed to a different combination of two fictitious newspaper pages in which two different ads for a new brand of peach juice are embedded. The first page contains only positive messages, pictures and headlines. The second page only contains news and pictures on crime and accidents. The emotional ads only contains arguments referring to 'family life’ and 'feeling good’. The second ad only refers to ingredients and health. The attitude towards the ad and the brand, the perception of product users, purchase intention, and ad and brand recall are measured.



Citation:

Dominika Maison, Patrick De Pelsmacker, and Maggie Geuens (2002) ,"The Effectiveness of Emotional and Rational Advertising Messages in Positive and Negative Contexts", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, eds. Ramizwick and Tu Ping, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 117.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, 2002      Page 117

THE EFFECTIVENESS OF EMOTIONAL AND RATIONAL ADVERTISING MESSAGES IN POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE CONTEXTS

Dominika Maison, University of Warsaw, Poland

Patrick De Pelsmacker, Universiteit Antwerpen Management School, Belgium

Maggie Geuens, Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School, Ghent University, Belgium

EXTENDED ABSTRACT -

The purpose of the study is to investigate the impact of positive and negative media context (context style), rational and emotional advertising stimuli (message style), and the interaction effects between context and style on ad and brand responses in a Polish context. One hundred Polish youngsters are randomly divided into one of the four experimental conditions (2X2 between subjects design). Each group is exposed to a different combination of two fictitious newspaper pages in which two different ads for a new brand of peach juice are embedded. The first page contains only positive messages, pictures and headlines. The second page only contains news and pictures on crime and accidents. The emotional ads only contains arguments referring to 'family life’ and 'feeling good’. The second ad only refers to ingredients and health. The attitude towards the ad and the brand, the perception of product users, purchase intention, and ad and brand recall are measured.

The excitation or affect transfer hypothesis (Cantor, Zillman and Bryant 1975; Tavassoli, Shultz and Fitzsimons 1995) states that the positive evaluation of the context is transferred to the ad, as a result of which the ad is also positively evaluated. Furthermore, the hedonic contingency theory (Lee and Sternthal 1999) suggests that people in a positive mood (resulting from positive media context) process a stimulus more intensively because they believe the consequences are going to be favourable. The affective priming theory Isen (1984) argues that knowledge structures associated with good moods are generally more extensive, and lead to more elaborate processing of the message. Therefore, the first hypothesis is that a positive context leads to more positive responses. This hypothesis is confirmed with respect to ad responses: a positive context leads to a mor positive attitude towards the ad and its users, and to better ad content recall. These ad responses are not carried over to the attitude towards the brand, purchase intention and brand recall, since the latter are not significantly affected by the context type. Maybe multiple exposures to ads embedded in a positive context are needed to eventually lead to positive brand attitudes.

The second hypothesis rests upon the results of most previous research that emotional advertising leads to more positive ad and brand responses (Geuens and De Pelsmacker 1998). This hypothesis is not at all confirmed. Rational ads lead to more positive ad and brand attitudes, to more positive perceptions of product users, and to higher purchase intentions and ad content recall. Maybe the relatively recent advertising tradition in Poland makes consumers feel more positive about rational, informative ads than towards emotional ones. Also the specific nature of the product, and the fact that it is an non-existing, new brand tested may account for this unexpected result.

The third hypothesis is partly based on earlier studies that find a positive effect of ad-context congruency on ad and brand responses. This is in line with the priming principle and the mood congruency-accessibility hypothesis. A certain context style may activate knowledge structures that make the processing of messages similar to this particular context easier. Ads that show elements that are relevant to or congruent with the mood of a subject at that particular moment may be accessed and processed more easily. Therefore it is expected that the (positively) emotional ad will lead to more positive results in a positive context than in a negative one, and that the emotional ad will lead to more positive results in a positive context than the rational one. Furthermore, the feelings-as-information theory (Worth and Mackie 1987, Kuykendall and Keating 1990) suggests that, when people are in a negative mood, they will look for stimuli that could alter this situation. This phenomenon could lead to better processing of especially rational ads in a negative context. Therefore, it is expected that rational ads will lead to better brand attitudes and recall in a negative context than in a positive one. This interaction effect hypothesis is largely confirmed. The attitude towards and recall of an emotional ad is significantly more positive in a positive context. In a negative context, the attitude towards and recall of an emotional ad is significantly more negative than that of rational ads. Finally, rational ads in negative contexts lead to a higher purchase intention and ad content recall than rational ads in a positive context. The results have implications on media planning and ad pre-testing, but require further confirmation in a broader context of more media, more product types and different cultures.

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Authors

Dominika Maison, University of Warsaw, Poland
Patrick De Pelsmacker, Universiteit Antwerpen Management School, Belgium
Maggie Geuens, Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School, Ghent University, Belgium



Volume

AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5 | 2002



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