advertisingresearchEmotional persuasionRobert Heath, University of Bath, explains what emotional persuasion is, why itmatt...
Robert Heath is a visiting                                                               professor at Copenhagen          ...
advertisingresearchFIGURE 1                                                                                               ...
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CEP article on emotional persuasion in advertising research by Robert Heath


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CEP article on emotional persuasion in advertising research by Robert Heath

  1. 1. advertisingresearchEmotional persuasionRobert Heath, University of Bath, explains what emotional persuasion is, why itmatters and how it can be measured HIS ARTICLE DEFINES two differ- But he also envisaged a defensive role Two definitions of persuasionT ent types of persuasion: rational and emotional. Rational persua-sion, exemplified by performance for repetitive advertising as ‘reinforcing already developed repeat buying habits’. Later, he developed this further to The above suggests that Ehrenberg does not see persuasion the same way as the strong theory. The Oxford Compact Eng-claims, promotions, offers and the like, address split-loyal purchasers (who reg- lish Dictionary’s general definition ofacts as an incentive for sales. But it is ularly purchase more than one brand), persuade is ‘Cause someone to believe,emotional persuasion that creates rela- and defined a further role for advertis- convince’ (OCED 1996). This clearlytionships and builds strong, successful ing as ‘nudging’ split-loyals towards a identifies persuasion as a rational, activebrands. An important new research sys- greater purchase proportion of one thinking activity, which involves thetem is described – the CEP™ Test – brand or another (2). manipulation of thoughts to createwhich is able to quantify accurately in Recent experimental work by beliefs and change attitudes.advance how well ads will perform on Kathryn Braun (3) has confirmed the But this ‘active thinking’ is not theeach of these two different types of per- power of advertising as reinforcement only definition. The OCED also definessuasion. in a post-purchase situation. Braun cre- persuasion as ‘to induce, lure, attract, ated orange juice samples of varying entice’. This does not necessarily implyEhrenberg’s Reinforcement quality and gave them to subjects to that a verbal or rational process is need-Model taste. Half the subjects were then ed for persuasion to take place, as theIn 1974, Andrew Ehrenberg wrote a con- exposed to advertising for the supposed words used (induce, lure, attract, entice)troversial paper about how advertising new brand. It was found that the adver- all relate to feelings and emotions moreworks (1). He rejected the notion that tising confounded the subject’s ability than thinking. Ehrenberg’s view of per-advertising is capable of changing to judge accurately the quality of the suasion arising from advertising thatattitudes on its own, and proposed that juice, leading to substandard samples uses an emotional tone suggests it is thisit usually worked by reinforcing being highly rated. definition of persuasion he envisages. Itopinions formed from what are often The power of ‘reinforcement’ adver- is this definition of persuasion that I callhigh levels of consumer knowledge and tising was contested by Jones (4), who ‘emotional’ persuasion.experience. characterised it as a ‘weak’ theory of In modern practice, the word persua- Ehrenberg’s attack was focused on advertising, which contrasted with the sion is used to encompass boththe general assumption that advertising traditional strongly persuasive model definitions, and is often used to describewas a strong form of persuasion, and ‘universally believed in the United any activity that changes the attitudeshis theory gained much popularity States’. Four key differences emerged or behaviour of the recipient. But Ehren-among advertising agencies. It was, between Jones’s ‘strong theory’ and berg sees reinforcement advertising asbear in mind, a time when the sales Ehrenberg’s reinforcement model. influencing behaviour without neces-effects of advertising were seen by many 1. Strong theory sees advertising as a sarily having to change attitudes. Thisas longterm, hard to discern even in dynamic force, driving sales and catego- corresponds closely to the model thathindsight and virtually impossible to ry growth. Reinforcement identifies an dominates academia in the US, Pettypredict. important additional defensive role, and Cacioppo’s Elaboration Likelihood Ehrenberg had established that in especially for repetitive advertising. Model (ELM).most markets there were few 100% loyal 2. Strong theory sees advertising oper-buyers, and the majority bought more ating on an ‘apathetic and rather stupid Elaboration Likelihood Modelthan one brand. He found that brand consumer’ (sic.); reinforcement sees con- The ELM divides consumers into thoseusers held consistently stronger atti- sumers as knowledgeable and who are ‘involved’ and those who aretudes than non-users, but could not intelligent. not. Involved consumers tend to processsatisfactorily explain how these atti- 3. Strong theory sees advertising work- advertising using a higher level oftudes came about. This led him to ing by changing attitudes, which leads thoughtfulness, which they term ‘cen-question the core assumption within to changing behaviour. Reinforcement tral’ processing. Uninvolved consumershierarchy-of-effects models: that atti- rejects the idea that attitude change use a lower level of thoughtfulness –tude change precedes and drives must always precede purchase. ‘peripheral’ processing. The key differ-behaviour change. He accepted that 4. Reinforcement sees persuasion as ence between the two is ‘the extent toadvertising can create, re-awaken or arising from advertising that takes ‘an which the attitude change that results …strengthen brand awareness, and can be emotional instead of an informative is due to active thinking’ (5). Attitudeone factor that facilitates trial purchase. tone’. changes resulting from central process-46 Admap • July/August 2006 © World Advertising Research Center 2006
  2. 2. Robert Heath is a visiting professor at Copenhagen Business School, and lectures at Bath School of Management, where he is in the final year of a PhD. He also runs the Value Creation Company, a brand consultancy that specialises in low attention are enduring, so it is a strongly per- ing has been made by Bornstein tionship’ metacommunication is oftensuasive route. But an important (11), who discovered that affect is more subtle and disguised, but it is this partcharacteristic of peripheral processing is effective when it is processed subcon- that endures and ultimately is mostthat the attitude changes that result are sciously: Bornstein found that conscious effective at changing attitudes. It is thisweak and relatively transient, and the processing of affective elements weak- relationship-building metacommunica-peripheral route also is one in which ens their potency, because it allows the tion that is emotionally persuasive.repetition of emotive cue-based advertis- subject to evaluate rationally and count- If you think about when you meeting is more influential than the actual er-argue against the influence. someone, you’ll realise that you mightmessage. So Ehrenberg’s reinforcement This implies that the less attention be influenced to meet them again bymodel in fact corresponds very closely to consumers pay to affective elements in what they say, but you are influenced tothe less strongly persuasive peripheral advertising, the better they will work. become friendly towards them by theprocessing. This might seem to confirm Christie Norheilm (12) has confirmed way they say things. Extending thisJones’s opinion that it is a ‘weak’ model, this experimentally. She has found that analogy to marketing, brands can easilybut recent findings show otherwise. if ads are processed deeply, repeated get sales using the content of their adver- exposure causes affective response to tising – by demonstrating added value,Decision-making and emotion first rise and then fall sharply. But when cutting price, improving performance,Traditional models suggest that behav- ads are processed in a shallow, inatten- and so on. But brands build enduringiour change is driven by changes in tive fashion, affective responses are relationships and create loyal consumersattitudes. Early models like Lavidge and enhanced, with no downturn from repe- only by the ‘relationship-building’ meta-Steiner’s (6) had decision-making driven tition. communication in their advertising. Forby affect (feelings and emotions), but There is also experimental confirma- example, Colgate didn’t become a super-affect operated only as a consequence of tion that repetition at low attention has brand just by preventing tooth decay likecognition (thinking). Zajonc (7) success- an effect on decision-making. D’Sousa every other toothpaste. It became afully contradicted this in 1980, showing (13) found evidence of ‘small but signifi- superbrand because, through years ofthat affect is generally pre-cognitive, not cant’ increases in brand awareness and advertising, it has built up a relationshippost-cognitive. More recently, Damasio brand choice arising from repetition of with people, so that they now trust and(8) has shown that cognition is ‘hard- radio ads in a divided-attention situa- like it as a brand. This is exactly howwired’ via the emotions, and that tion. All this supports the Low- brands like Andrex, Olay, Persil, Stellafeelings are therefore capable of driving Attention Processing (LAP) Model (14), Artois, Orange, BMW and many others,decisions in the face of negative cogni- which suggests that advertising that have become so strong.tion. This has since been validated by operates emotionally can be processedShiv & Fedhorikhin (9): by constraining without active attention and can exert a Measuring rational anddecision time they found that subjects significant influence on choice, often emotional persuasionchose chocolate cake in place of fruit without the consumer realising it. Part of the problem with emotional per-salad, ignoring the sensible guidance of Whether you call it reinforcement, suasion is that it is really hard totheir ‘thinking’ brain, and giving way to peripheral processing or LAP, advertis- measure. It is relatively easy to measuretheir emotions – exactly how busy par- ing that works in this way is not weak, it rational persuasion – you can prettyents act when shopping for groceries is simply emotionally persuasive. much just ask people if they feel morewith their children. What this suggests inclined to buy the brand. But if you askis that real-life decisions are very vulner- Emotional persuasion them if they feel inclined to form a rela-able to advertising that operates The true importance of emotional per- tionship with the brand they are likelyemotionally. suasion emerges from findings by Paul to think you are nuts. Damasio (10) also found that, while Watzlawick (15). Watzlawick identifies Working in partnership with OTX,cognitive processing depends on work- two distinct levels for communication: a we have devised a research system thating memory and is enhanced by content level and a relationship level. solves this problem: the CEP™ Testattention, affective processing is inde- The former he terms communication, (patent pending). The CEP™ Test uses apendent of working memory and the latter metacommunication. Rational set of ten dimensions to measure theattention. He established that emotions persuasion takes place in the ‘content’ Cognitive Power™ and the Emotiveand feelings are formed subconsciously area of communication, is easily Power™ of an advertising execution.and autonomically (independent of analysed and classified, but is the fastest Cognitive Power measures the rationalwill). But an even more important find- to fade in memory. In contrast, the ‘rela- persuasion of the advertising – how© World Advertising Research Center 2006 July/August 2006 • Admap 47
  3. 3. advertisingresearchFIGURE 1 Bottom right is a cosmetic ad. It gets overCEP TM test results a lot of information but it is almost entirely lacking in empathy. This advertising isn’t 100 going to score any relationship-building points with the consumers. In contrast, the 80 star award for relationship-building goes to one of last year’s British Airways ads, top 60 BA Andrex left. But what would happen if they decid- Honda Disney ed to abandon their wonderfully soothing 40 World all-important operatic music track?We Emotive power Sony Stella could tell them! ■ Artois 20 Guinness 1. ASC Ehrenberg: Repetitive advertising –100 –80 –60 –40 –20 20 40 60 80 100 and the consumer, JAR 14, April 1974, BP pp. 25-34. –20 2. N Barnard & ASC Ehrenberg: Burger chain Advertising: strongly persuasive or –40 nudging?, JAR 37, 1, 1997. 3. KA Braun: Postexperience advertising –60 Cosmetic effects on consumer memory, Journal of Consumer Research 25, 4 1999. –80 4. JP Jones: Advertising: strong force or weak force? Two views an ocean apart, Inter- –100 national Journal of Advertising 9, 3, 1990. Cognitive power 5. RE Petty & JT Cacioppo: Attitudes and Persuasion: Classic and Contemporarywell it will achieve sales. Emotive Power In the UK we tested a corporate ad for Approaches. Boulder, CO: Westview Press,measures the emotional persuasion of BP. It spoke a lot about global warming 1996. 6. RJ Lavidge & GA Steiner: A model forthe advertising – how well it will build and what BP was doing to stop it, and predictive measurements of advertisingthe brand relationship. scored very well on Cognitive Power, but effectiveness, Journal of Marketing 25, 4, In the first six weeks of the launch we the Emotive Power score was below aver- 1961.performed approaching 120 tests of age. This indicates the ad won’t make 7. RB Zajonc: Feeling and thinking:brand communication material. We consumers like BP any better. This result preferences need no inferences. Americanhave found that the system works not was reflected in very small increases in Psychologist 35, 1980.only on TV, print, poster, radio and cine- favourability, mostly among existing 8. AR Damasio: Descartes Error. New York,ma, but on internet ads, promotional users. Sony’s spectacular release of thou- NY: GP Putnams Sons, 1994.banners – in fact, any form of brand sands of coloured balls in San Francisco, 9. B Shiv & A Fedorikhan: Heart and mind incommunication. What is more, we have for the launch of their Bravia TV, caused conflict: the interplay of affect andfound that high scores on cognitive much excitement amongst creatives. It cognition in consumer decision making,power or emotive power are validated in doesn’t explain why the Bravia is better, Journal of Consumer Research 26, 1999.90% of cases by positive shifts in but it is emotionally persuasive, as we 10. A Damasio: The Feeling of What Happens.favourability between those who have can see from the very high score it London: Heinemann, 2000.and have not seen the advertising. But achieves on Emotive Power. What’s 11. RF Bornstein: Exposure and affect:low scores show no shift. Some results more, there is a substantial upward shift overview and meta-analysis of research,are shown in Figure 1. in favourability. 1968-1987, Psychological Bulletin 106, 2, Take as an example six of these adver- What about Guinness’ recent ‘evolu- 1989.tisements we tested during our tion’ ad? Very creative, but only average 12. CL Nordheilm: The influence of level ofdevelopment and validation phase. In on Emotive Power. Non-users rated it processing on advertising repetition effects,the US, we tested a highly creative and below average on both scales, users Journal of Consumer Research 29,quite well-liked ad for a burger retail rated it above. And when we looked at December 2002.chain. But the scores for Cognitive the favourability shifts there was a big 13. G DSousa: Can repeating anPower and Emotive Power were way shift amongst users and no shift at all advertisement more frequently than thebelow average. And the advertising among non-users. So the message for competition affect brand preference in ashowed no shift at all on favourability Guinness is that if they want to rein- mature market?, Journal of Marketing 59,between those who recognised and did force their user base, this ad works fine. 2, 1995.not recognise it. In contrast, Disney The Honda Diesel ad also created a 14. RG Heath: The Hidden Power ofWorld’s 50th Anniversary ad scored stir, two minutes long and totally icono- Advertising. Admap Monograph No. 7,well above average on Cognitive Power clastic. And it creates a stir in Emotive World Advertising Research Center, 2001.and Emotive Power, in fact it was the Power as well, nearly as high as Andrex. 15. P Watzlawick, JB Bavelas & DD Jackson:highest-scoring of all ads we tested. And But that’s not a recent Andrex ad, it is Pragmatics of Human also scored the highest shift in the very first Andrex Puppy ad ever New York, NY: Norton & Co. Inc, 1967.favourability, among both users and made. It is still as emotively persuasivenon-users. as it was 20 years ago. Admap • July/August 2006 © World Advertising Research Center 2006