Emotional print ads are typically more persuasive than informational appeals, except when the goal is to highlight a brand’s unique selling proposition, according to a study published in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

Thorsten Teichert and Rohit Trivedi (Universität Hamburg), Dirk Hardeck (Hardeck Möbel Gmb/Bochum, Germany), Yong Liu (Aalto University School Of Business/Helsinki) conducted this analysis.

They compared the impact of informational and emotional appeals of magazine advertisements on five variables: closer advertisement-examination intention; information-search intention; positive attitude change; integration into the evoked set; and purchase intention.

“Emotional appeals,” the research found, “had stronger effects than informational appeals on four persuasion objectives, suggesting that emotional appeals are a more effective element of message strategy.”

The one exception, however, occurs when the aim is to “persuade consumers to integrate the advertised brand into an evoked set,” the academics reported.

“When the objective of a marketer is to differentiate the brand from other competing brands by highlighting its unique selling proposition, an informational appeal will work better than an emotional appeal.”

And How to Implement Informational and Emotional Appeals in Print Advertisements: A Framework for Choosing Ad Appeals Based on Advertisers’ Objectives and Targeted Demographics drilled down further into this overall topic.

“The interaction between age and information appeal always had a positive impact on persuasion, whereas the interaction between age and emotional appeal was constantly negative,” the scholars stated.

Based on this insight, the paper made some recommendations about how brand custodians should seek to connect with older consumers.

“As marketers begin dealing with more mature target audiences, they should emphasise informational appeals over emotional appeals,” the study said.

“This holds true especially if marketers’ objectives are to induce information-search intention, move the brand into the evoked set, or influence consumer purchase intention.”

“This recommendation is in contrast with prior studies that suggested that older consumers have greater liking and recall of emotional appeals.”

Drawing on data provided by Ad Impact Monitor, a market-research initiative from major German print media companies, the study involved 77,627 consumers and 1,141 ads overall.

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