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Got ELM? - COM 471 Persuasion Paper on Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Got ELM? - COM 471 Persuasion Paper on Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Got ELM? - COM 471 Persuasion Paper on Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Got ELM? - COM 471 Persuasion Paper on Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Got ELM? - COM 471 Persuasion Paper on Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Got ELM? - COM 471 Persuasion Paper on Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Got ELM? - COM 471 Persuasion Paper on Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Got ELM? - COM 471 Persuasion Paper on Goodby Silverstein & Partners
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Got ELM? - COM 471 Persuasion Paper on Goodby Silverstein & Partners

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Got ELM? - COM 471 Persuasion Paper on Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Got ELM? - COM 471 Persuasion Paper on Goodby Silverstein & Partners

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  • 1. Eugene Tay COM 471 Paper: Persuasion (Final Revision) Got ELM? Mark Twain once said, "Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising." Similarly, the San Francisco-based advertising agency, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners (GS&P), have supercharged ordinary milk into "one of the best-known products on the planet." Their tagline, “got milk?” has become a part of pop culture. In order to learn how such a highly challenged, tiny product could overcome GS&P’s "calcium competition," (Jurzynski, M., personal communication, November 30, 2005) this paper integrates extensive research, persuasive theory, and critical thinking to explore the persuasion effects of the “got milk?” campaign. After providing an overview of the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM), I will use the ELM as a theoretical lens to examine the various components of the “got milk?” campaign - the campaign issues, rationale, persuasion strategies, and its relative success. This is followed by an in-depth analysis of whether or not the ELM theory is functional in practical circumstances, using evidence drawn from email correspondence, actual “got milk?” advertisements, published reviews, and multiple textbook reference sources. Finally, we will discuss how the ELM might increase the success of the “got milk?” campaign, while considering possible additions besides the ELM. To get a better understanding of the campaign, we need to begin with the basics of the ELM. Developed by Richard Petty and John Cacioppo, the ELM provides a theoretical framework for understanding and integrating diverse findings from academic research in persuasion. This model seeks to explain how persuasive messages work to change the receiver’s attitude. The ELM states that under different conditions, receivers vary the degree to which they Page 1 of 8
  • 2. are likely to engage in elaboration of the information relevant to the persuasive issue. The ELM argues that motivation and processing ability determine attitude change, which occurs utilizing one of two routes: the central route or the peripheral route. The central route requires conscious contemplation and logical analysis (cognitive elaboration) of the presented issues. This occurs when people are motivated (care enough) and able to think carefully (when no distractions interfere with their evaluation) about a message. As we carefully consider and elaborate upon the speaker’s arguments, this leads to relatively enduring attitude change, which is more predictive of future behavior (conversion). The peripheral route requires little mental effort. This low involvement processing occurs by default as people are often either unmotivated (e.g. topic has low personal relevance), or unable to think (e.g. distracted and cannot concentrate) about the merits of a message. Factors unrelated to the perceived merits of the message, such as surface characteristics and persuasion cues (e.g. source attractiveness or expertise), induce temporary attitude change (compliance) without deep consideration. Yet, these two routes are not mutually exclusive even if we favor one route over the other, as parallel processing often occurs (Brown, 2006). The key variable in this process is involvement - the extent to which an individual is willing and able to ‘think’ about the position advocated and its supporting materials. High involvement initiates central route processing, while low involvement drives peripheral route processing. When the message is relevant, and people are motivated and able to think about the content of the message, elaboration is high. Elaboration means engaging in issue-relevant thinking, and involves cognitive processes such as evaluation, recall, critical judgment, and inferential judgment. When elaboration is high, people are likely to utilize the central route. Conversely, the peripheral route is the likely result of low elaboration. Persuasion, however, also Page 2 of 8
  • 3. occurs with low elaboration. In this case, the receiver is not guided by the assessment of the message, as in the case of the central route, but the receiver decides to follow a shortcut or a decision-rule (simple heuristic), or peripheral cues derived from the persuasion situation. Petty and Cacioppo (1984) found that argument quality guides persuasion when involvement is high, while argument quantity guides persuasion when involvement is low. They also found that distraction blocks central route processing and induces peripheral processing. The ELM accounts for the differences in the persuasive impact produced by arguments that contain ample information and cogent reasons compared to messages that rely on simplistic associations of negative and positive attributes to some object, action or scenario. The ELM is a fairly accurate model of how attitude changes are achieved and the difficulty in producing a major, long-term attitude change. While it does not predict every single situation, the guidelines set forth in the ELM provide an integrative framework to the field of persuasion (Brown, 2006). In this case, it is illustrated by the "got milk?" campaign. Milk advertising has never been easy. According to GS&P’s Ms. Jurzynski, the challenges were numerous since the beginning. Milk, a generic commodity in “boring, old square cartons,” had short shelf life, an unbranded medicinal image, with neither trendy packaging nor new flavors. Facing a broad and competitive range of alternate beverages vying for their increasingly choosy customers, it was a huge uphill struggle for the dairy industry, such that they spend $180 million annually to “stop the hemorrhaging.” The recent emergence of “calcium competition breathing down [their] necks,” and “everything from OJ to Mac & Cheese to bread to vitamin water touting ‘now with added calcium – as much as a glass of milk!’” has shattered milk’s monopoly as the only source of calcium for people. Today’s surfeit of aggressively marketed and healthy-sounding products such as soy milk and low-carbohydrate drinks exacerbated the existing problems. Page 3 of 8
  • 4. Inflation and declining sales further eroded their budget. Even Governor Schwarzenegger said, “Milk is for babies. When you grow up you drink beer!” Concerned that “everyone thinks they know everything about milk,” GS&P had to “turn advertising inside out,” and “brainstorm the concept from inception,” evolving "got milk?" into a comprehensive and carefully integrated marketing campaign. “Got milk?” is now known for its print ads with celebrities sporting Milk Mustaches and humorous TV commercials. Public relations moved from being an afterthought to the forefront and became part of “creative concepting” to “make this news to consumers." According to Ms. Jurzynski, GS&P’s goal was to "get the message out there in a bigger way that will resonate with [their] audience." Aiming for long-term conversion, GS&P seem to be targeting the ELM’s central route. Analysis of the "got milk?" campaign ads, the information GS&P sent, and input from its architect, Jeff Manning, also the executive director of the California Milk Processor Board, shows that this campaign is tackling both routes of the ELM. GS&P’s highly publicized Milk Mustache ads, frequently found while mindlessly flipping magazines, rely on associations with attractive celebrities, and thus use the peripheral route. On the other hand, their interactive website with activities and spots, and Jeff Manning’s claim that GS&P has “utmost respect for [viewers’] intelligence” and that ads should “touch people intellectually and emotionally,” focus more on the central route to persuade us to buy milk. Their success in “turn[ing] advertising into breaking news,” from Good Morning America to CNN Headline News to ABC World News, gives elaboration and emphasis to their campaign, and we tune in to such sensible news via the central route. According to correspondence with GS&P’s Ms. Jurzynski, “the results have been absolutely incredible.” Their website traffic has increased 15 fold, and the “press has run nationally and internationally reaching 132 million + people.” Clearly, their campaign is a resounding success. Page 4 of 8
  • 5. The ELM postulates that a person’s motivation and ability to process the message determines which route is used. The more motivation and ability a person has, the more likely they process the message centrally (thoughtful consideration). As ‘cognitive misers’, people are neither motivated nor able to process everything they encounter (Brown, 2006). Thus, peripheral processing occurs for most ads, even the Milk Mustache ones, due to relatively low relevance and issue-relevant thinking. The source credibility by associating milk with admirable and popular celebrities provides peripheral cues that allow people to adopt a position towards the product without any extensive cognitive work, regardless of argument quality. An attractive and reliable- looking spokesperson helps to bring about the positive attitude change that GS&P hopes for. The simple presentation, clear ad layout and consistent "got milk?" tagline enhance the ease by which the Milk Mustache ads register peripherally as an attractive source - one of the most effective ways the advertisers use to draw viewers’ attention. While the resulting attitude change is temporary, it can be extended by the message repeated over time, enabling a more lasting change. In addition, the peripheral route does not require strong evidence or convincing, quality arguments or an objective audience as in the central route, which risks alienating discerning viewers, possibly resulting in the opposite outcome. This boomerang effect means that the receiver using the central route might reject the message and form negative thoughts and feelings about the message, thus failing to be persuaded. Nevertheless, even the most powerful peripheral cues do not have permanent effects, and so arises the need for elaboration via the central route (Griffin, 2006). GS&P targets the central route with their www.gotmilk.com interactive website, which is full of fun activities and humorous 30-second spots, with the latest featuring athletes taking “performance enhancers from refrigerated lockers” (milk!) to “rebuild muscles” and “maintain bone strength.” GS&P knows that a good way to motivate people to take the central route is to Page 5 of 8
  • 6. make the message personally relevant to them. Consequently, with higher relevance for interested users, the audience is involved in issue-relevant thinking, and more motivated to process the information. They voluntarily explore the website and actively experiment with milk recipes and play the "got milk?" games. Multiple independent sources, such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Inside Edition and ESPN Hollywood, presented "got milk?" favorably, increasing our motivation and interest to scrutinize these highly acclaimed, ubiquitous ads. On the whole, these interacting factors combine to amass more thoughtful elaboration and consideration of the message via the central route, resulting in stronger, more enduring attitude change that is more resistant to counter persuasion by the milk industry’s competitors. Yet the constant repetition and countless imitations, even rip-offs (e.g. Got Beer?) of the "got milk?" slogan has increased publicity so much that, regardless of route use, many will develop a positive attitude towards milk. Drawing from the various research sources, it is evident that GS&P has outdone the competition by incorporating the ELM in their “creative concepting.” Innovatively fusing the audience’s elaboration level through a versatile and varied arsenal of persuasive tactics, from the simple Milk Mustache ads to the online hands-on, thought-provoking activities, the impact is persuasive and pervasive. GS&P representative Debbie Lee provided documentation of a national awareness of over 90%, an unaided tagline recall at 50.4% correct (triple that of Coke or Budweiser!), and actual sales constantly exceeding projected sales. Most of all, milk’s traditional image has skyrocketed to iconic status, as a “nutritional powerhouse” worth over $20 billion at retail (Lee, D., personal communication, November 14, 2005). A winner of every major advertising award, including Clios, Effies and SF Show Awards, "got milk?" was named one of the best ad campaigns of all time, as it stabilized milk sales and made an “indelible mark on American pop culture” (Lee, D., personal communication, November 14, 2005). GS&P Page 6 of 8
  • 7. transformed "got milk?" into the most popular and highly leveraged tagline in advertising history, with its own gear line, and Jeff Manning’s 197-page "got milk? the book" that describes how their multimillion-dollar advertising campaign and website “weave together” to save milk for good. The ELM offers insight into the dynamics of attitude change, and has proven to be a useful and appropriate tool in helping us analyze and predict how variables might affect persuasion in real-world circumstances like the milk industry. Researchers Green and Brock (2005) reported that a critical issue for understanding persuasion was whether attitude change was a result of the central or peripheral route. However, real-world predictions are often more complex than laboratory tests which extrapolate from simple and clear-cut manipulations. Although the ELM explains both routes of persuasion and the ideal circumstances for each, we are seldom at either extreme. Therefore, it is best represented as a continuum rather than a dichotomy (Brown, 2006). With such advertising potential and successful route-specific persuasive strategies enhanced by their “creative concepting,” Goodby, Silverstein & Partners have shown themselves to be master persuaders. They have redefined the meaning of success by “what can be,” instead of “what is” (Lee, D., personal communication, November 14, 2005). Personally influenced by their advertising, and eager to toast their healthy and milky future, I wonder what is in my refrigerator, and if I… got milk? Page 7 of 8
  • 8. Additional References (beyond our class textbooks) Brown, J. (2006). Social psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education. Green, M. C., & Brock, T. C. (Eds.). (2005). Persuasion: psychological insights and perspectives. California: Sage Publications. Griffin, E. (2006). A first look at communication theory. Boston: McGraw-Hill. Jesaitis, C. (2003). Subliminal advertising reexamined through the elaboration likelihood model and an individual difference approach. Thesis (B.A.): Whitman College. Jurzynski, M. (2005). Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. (personal communication, November 30). Lee, D. (2005). Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. (personal communication, November 19). Lee, D. (2005). Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. (personal communication, November 14). Public Relations Department. (2005). Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. (personal communication, November 7). Public Relations Department. (2005). Got Milk?. (personal communication, November 7). Page 8 of 8

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