VALUES, APPEALS, CONTENT AND STYLE 1)
In researching advertising across borders a number of terms are used to describe WHAT is said in a commercial or HOW things are said in a commercial. All of this type of research focuses primarily on the message of advertising, taking both the visual and the audible component into account. Most researchers have paid little interest in execution or objectives, which may influence the advertising message. Both execution and objectives are taken a priori as being equal across countries. This limitation should be clearly pointed out, as it may account for some of the differences observed.
I have divided four main areas of research, with all overlapping or influencing each other to some extent:
Frequently researchers have combined certain areas. For example, Mueller (1996) in her study about beer advertising in the UK and the US looked for selected appeals as well as some communication styles in commercials.
The terms “appeals” and “values” are used loosely in the literature to describe the traditional notion of “advertising appeals”. In their textbook “Advertising – Principles and Practice”, Wells, Burnett and Moriarty (1995) give the following description of appeals:
Persuasion in advertising rests on the psychological appeal to the consumer. An appeal is something that makes the product particularly attractive or interesting to the consumer. Common appeals are security, esteem, fear, sex, and sensory pleasure. Appeals generally pinpoint the anticipated response of the prospect to the product and message. Advertisers also use the word appeal to describe a general creative emphasis. For example, if the price is emphasised in the ad, then the appeal is value, economy, or savings. Wells, Burnett and Moriarty (1995): 278.
1. As this definition suggests, appeals make the product attractive to the consumer, and are hence emphasised in advertising for the product.
2. However, they do not necessarily represent product attributes, nor do they have to be realistically connected to the product at all.
3. De facto they are often used to set a desired atmosphere or as a means to “connect” with the target group.
4. As such, they are “built” into the commercial and designed to represent the supposed values of the desired target group.
For example, a product that has housewives as a target group may show, as an appeal, pictures of a happy family – which is thought to represent a value of the target group, or at least a desired state. Also, for example beer in itself has little sex appeal – however this appeal is frequently used in beer advertising (Dahl, 2000). The combination of “sex appeal”, displayed in the advertising connected to the consumption of that particular brand of beer, may however make the product attractive to the potential consumer, as it may represent a widely held value in the target group. Connected to the product, this may make the product more appealing to the target group.
Clearly, not everybody will have the same values, and the appeals that are used do not necessarily actually appeal to all consumers – even within the target group.
However, they usually are chosen to represent values thought to be held by the target group as a whole.
The advertiser aims to link the set of appeals used in the commercial with the product in the mind of the consumer, in order to enhance and position the product, the product image and perception. They are used strategically to influence consumer perception of the product (such as drinking beer = success with women) and hence to increase consumer readiness to purchase – or product appeal. Understood as such, they can be regarded as an active part in positioning the product in the market place and enhance the product’s image, by associating desirable aspects to the product.
Prof. C.J.M. Beniers
About Professor C.J.M. Beniers
Prof. C.J.M. Beniers is a well known authority in the field of modern and international communication techniques. He developed the Six-Component-Model. This model enables companies, institutions and politicians to communicate and negotiate with counterparts from all over the world successfully. His career began as international manager at Philips and later he earned his doctorate as professor in communication. He has more than 35 years experience as manager and management trainer. Thus he knows both sides – theory and praxis – very well. As scientist, Prof. Beniers conducts frequently research in the field of intercultural communication. The results of his interesting research can be found in news articles, free pod casts, audio books and his E-books such as “Bridging The Cultural Gap.” Here, modern managers learn how to prepare for business meetings with people from different cultures; they acquire the techniques and tools to handle situations in times of crises successfully, master intercultural barriers, country-specific communication patterns, looking into personal cultural values & systems. Knowing all this, men can prevent cultural misunderstandings and misinterpretations – not only in business but also in private life.
Prof. C.J.M. Beniers
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