I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing…

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Winston Smith at Philosoraptor points to this interesting article about a study to appear in the Journal of Advertising, on advertising to skeptics. Winston Smith remains skeptical about the findings.

Skeptics are not, however, immune from the influence of advertising. The researchers said that this finding may appear counter-intuitive, as many consumers are inclined to express skepticism about overtly emotional ads, which they view as manipulative. And, such ads are successfully manipulative, researchers said.

“The advertising skeptic regards advertising as not credible, and therefore, not worth processing,” said MacLachlan. “The skeptic’s perspective differs from the consumer cynic. A cynical consumer is critical of advertising because of its manipulative intent and indirect appeals. Such consumers may prefer simple, direct, informative advertising. Skeptics, however, do not. This research shows that advertisers are not apt to ‘win over’ skeptics by presenting them with simple informational appeals.” The authors say it is likely that emotional appeals were developed by advertisers, in part, in response to the skepticism of some consumers, as a way to bypass their skepticism filters.

The researchers suggest that advertisers should avoid direct informational approaches with skeptics and use emotionally-charged appeals, which were shown to work equally well for high and low skeptics, and no worse than informational appeals for low skeptics.

I think I am both a consumer cynic and an advertising skeptic in that I prefer “simple, direct, informative advertising” but I am also wary of “overtly emotional” and “manipulative” ads which are more likely to earn my scorn than my patronage. (And, if an “overtly emotional” campaign were to proove effective on me, once I realized what had happened, there would be a backlash in my attitude against the product.)

Maybe it’s not cost-effective to advertise to people like me, but if some fearless advertiser wanted to, would they continue on this tack of emotional manipulation? Or… hmmm… I don’t know… use “simple, direct, informative advertising� THAT IS TRUE and withstands the rigors of skeptical investigation?

Medical News Today: Emotional, not factual, ads win skeptical consumers, study shows

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