Emotional or Informative? Creative or Boring?

The Effectiveness of Different Types of Radio Commercial

Wim Janssens
University of Antwerp

Patrick De Pelsmacker
University of Antwerp Ghent University


Advertising professionals can use a multitude of appeals, formats and execution strategies to get their messages across. Two types of appeal can be distinguished: emotional and rational/informative messages. Emotional appeals are executions the main purpose of which is to elicit an affective or emotional response. Advertising professionals frequently employ different types of emotional execution, such as humour, eroticism, warmth, fear appeals and music. Rational/informative appeals, on the other hand, contain evaluative messages such as product characteristics, features, factual data, and objective selling arguments such as price, components, ingredients or performance (Abernethy & Franke 1996; De Pelsmacker & Geuens 1997). Informative and emotional appeals can be integrated in various advertising formats: talking heads, demonstrations, testimonials, celebrity and expert endorsements, slice-of-life ads and comparative ads. The execution can be creative or straightforward. However, different ad characteristics are normally not 'randomly' combined. Often, they are combined to form types of commercial, such as the very informative non-emotional ad, the image-oriented ad with limited rational appeals, creative ads with unusual formats, and so on (Aaker & Norris 1982; Aaker & Bruzzone 1985; De Pelsmacker et al. 1998). Different ad characteristics and different ad types lead to different responses, and not all types of ad are equally effective.