Ads must be memorable, not persuasive, to influence choice

Jane Leighton

The most prevalent view of advertising is that it persuades, yet there is little evidence to support this idea. There is, however, more evidence in favour of an alternative view that says brand salience is what really counts.

The idea that advertising should be persuasive was supported in the millennium edition of the Journal of Marketing. “Persuasion is the only mode [of advertising] worthy of consideration,” it said (1).

In 2008, Venu Gopal Nair, co-founder of ad agency Brand Portrait, claimed: “Advertising is about persuading, not about selling.” (2)

Tim Ambler of the London Business School (3) has voiced a similar sentiment: “The assumption that advertising equals persuasion is so ingrained in the US that to challenge it elicits much the same reaction as questioning your partner's parentage.”