Brands that are perceived as running more creative or expensive ads may see benefits whether they are focused on reaching consumers or business-to-business customers, a study in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR) has argued.

Micael Dahlen and Sara Rosengren (Stockholm School Of Economics) and John Karsberg (H&M Online) conducted four studies – across various industries – that covered B2B and consumer advertising.

“By increasing the perceived expense or creativity in advertisements, the advertiser sends a message that is more forward-looking than the specific message about the advertised (B2B) product or job offer,” they revealed.

“Receivers are particularly sensitive to soft information about the brand that extends beyond what the brand explicitly has to say and what it has to offer right now.”

Their paper, entitled The Effects of Signaling Monetary and Creative Effort in Ads: Advertising Effort Can Go a Long Way Influencing B2B Clients, Employees, and Investors, drilled down further into the results.

Many prior studies have asserted that B2B advertising typically has “indirect effects on brand equity”, the trio of academics reported.

Their research, however, found that “B2B buyers are receptive to soft information” – namely, the expense or creativity associated with an ad – “about the brand’s general ability, which can be conveyed by way of its advertising effort”.

Building on this, the authors suggested a reason for this outcome: “The participating B2B buyers perceived the advertiser’s effort in creativity as a signal of the brand’s general ability, which, in turn, increased their product-quality perceptions.”

Similar positive effects were observed when it came to recruitment advertising, as one of their studies revealed that job applicants also proved receptive to soft information as a guide to a brand’s general ability.

“It found that the participants did indeed perceive the advertiser’s higher effort in terms of expense as a signal of brand ability and that, as a result, they rated the brand as a more attractive potential employer,” the scholars wrote.

Two of the four studies further extended the analysis in showing that “consumer advertising can affect stakeholders such as employees and investors as well”.

“The findings show that employees and investors recognise the advertiser’s extra effort in terms of expense or creativity and that they presume that the targeted consumers will react more favourably because of this.”

For more tips on maximising the impact of creativity, read WARC's free-to-access report: How do I use creativity to drive effectiveness?

Sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by WARC staff