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Emotional appeal of TV ads diverge

News, 19 January 2015

NEW YORK: Brands using TV ads to reach consumers may benefit from tapping emotional appeals in affluent countries and more functional messaging in less-affluent nations, according to a paper published in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

Lia Zarantonello from the University of Bath School of Management, and Bernd H. Schmitt and Kamel Jedidi, from Columbia Business School, discussed this topic in "How to Advertise and Build Brand Knowledge Globally: Comparing Television Advertising Appeals across Developed and Emerging Economies."

More specifically, they aimed to undertake "an examination of advertising appeals from a branding perspective in a cross-cultural context", focusing in part on the importance of emotion and functional concerns.

The study was based on 257 commercials for household cleaning products and covered 23 countries. It used content analysis and consumer surveys to explore various advertising attributes, like enjoyment, understanding and branding.

And one of its main findings showed that emotional messaging was typically most impactful in wealthier nations.

"The experiential appeal has a stronger relationship with the components of brand knowledge in countries at higher levels of economic development, whereas the functional appeal has a stronger relationship with these components in countries at lower levels of economic development," the authors wrote.

Among the markets with the highest levels of average wealth - a group including Australia, France, Germany and the UK - the power of emotion took a distinct form.

"Specifically, in high-GDP countries, the experiential appeal was significantly related to brand attitude and brand uniqueness but not brand awareness," the authors continued.

"This effect may have resulted from the fact that consumers in high-GDP countries are familiar with this type of appeal, as they have been exposed to many of such stimuli over the last decades."

In nations occupying the middle tier in terms of wealth, by contrast, emotional messaging had a stronger relationship with brand awareness.

"This greater power of the experiential appeal may be explained by the fact that, as in high-GDP countries, consumers from mid-GDP countries are 'experience seekers' ... but, differently from mid-GDP countries, they are less familiar with this type of appeal."

In "low-GDP" nations - like Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam - the impact of functional appeals generally did not promise to strengthen brands in a similar way.

"This finding suggested that, even though consumers in these countries may have been more concerned about the functionality of products rather than experiences attached to brands, the functional appeal seemed not useful to build brand knowledge," the authors wrote.

Data sourced from Warc