Advertising Messages and Creative Approaches • Whether advertising converts people into becoming brand-loyal customers or acts as a defensive shield to reassure current buyers, and whether central or peripheral cues are required, there still remains the decision about the nature and form of the message to be conveyed: the creative strategy. • In practice, the generation of suitable messages is derived from the creative brief. For the sake of discussion and analysis, four elements will be considered.
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These concern the balance, the structure, the perceived source and the presentation o f the message to the target audience • The Balance of the Message • With high-involvement decisions, where persuasion occurs through a central processing route, the emphasis o f the message should be on the information content, in particular, the key attributes and the associated benefits. • It is evident from previous discussions that the effectiveness of any single message is dependent upon a variety of issues.
From a receiver’s perspective, two elements appear to be significant: first, the amount and quality of the information that is communicated, and, second, the overall judgement that each individual makes about the way a message is communicated. • The Balance of the Message • This suggests that the style of a message should reflect a balance between the need for information and the need for pleasure or enjoyment in consuming the message.
It is clear that when dealing with high-involvement decisions, where persuasion occurs through a central processing route, the emphasis of the message should be on the information content, in particular, the key attributes and the associated benefits. This style is often factual and product orientated. If the product evokes low-involvement decision-making, then the message should concentrate upon the images that are created within the mind of the message recipient. This style seeks to elicit an emotional response from receivers.
There are, of course, many situations where both rational and emotional messages are needed by buyers in order to make purchasing decisions. • Likeability • Likeability is important, because learning and attitude change may be positively correlated with the degree to which consumption o f the message is enjoyed. • An issue that has been gaining increasing attention since the beginning of the 1990s concerns the level of likeability that an advertisement generates. Likeability is important, because learning and attitude change may be positively correlated with the degree to which consumption of the message is enjoyed.
This means that the greater the enjoyment, the greater the exposure to the message and the lower the probability that the message will be perceptually zapped. • Biel (1990) found that changes in product preferences were considerably improved when receivers had `liked the commercial a lot’. This compares with those who were less enthusiastic or neutral towards the advertisement. Haley (1990) reported that advertisements that create a belief that the product is excellent and where messages that are liked are commercially more successful.
In other words, a message that is well liked will sell more product than a message that fails to generate interest and liking. • This begs the question, `what makes a message liked? ‘ Obviously, the receiver must be stimulated to become interested in the message. Having become emotionally engaged, interest can only be sustained if the credibility of the advertisement can also be maintained. The style of the message should be continued, in order that the context of the message does not require the target audience to readjust their perception.
This is particularly important for low-involvement messages, where receivers have little or no interest. If the weak theory is adopted, then `liked’ advertisements will tend to be those for whom the receiver has prior experience or exposure. Messages that are well liked appear to consist of the following components (du Plessis, 1998): 1. The advertisement needs to be entertaining. This usually means that the advertisement is new and people are curious. 2. People like advertisements with which they can identify and which show them in a good light 3.
People appear to like advertisements that refer to products that are new, that tell them how the products might be useful to them and which show them how to use products. Otherwise, perceptual selection will ensure that messages for products of which target has no experience, or which the target has no interest in, will be screened regardless of the quality or the likeability of the communication The likeability level that an advertisement achieves is not the sole reason or measure of an advertisement’s success or effectiveness (Joyce, 1991). Research from The Netherlands suggests that interest is also an important and interrelated factor. Stapel (1991) strongly suggests that advertisers should make their messages interesting, as this will probably lead to liking and overall effectiveness. • However, likeability and associated interest are new and interesting contributions that need to be considered when the style of an advertising message is determined. • Message Structure An important part of message strategy is the consideration of the best way of communicating the key points, or core message, to the target audience without encountering objections and opposing points of view. The following are regarded as important structural features which shape the pattern of a message • Conclusion Drawing • Should the message draw a firm conclusion for the audience or should people be allowed to draw their own conclusions from the content? Explicit conclusions are, of course, more easily understood and stand a better chance of being effective (Kardes, 1988).
However, it is the nature of the issue, the particular situation and the composition of the target audience that influence the effectiveness of conclusion drawing (Hovland and Mandell, 1952). Whether or not a conclusion should be drawn for the receiver depends upon the following: 1. The complexity o f the issue Healthcare products, central heating systems and personal finance services, for example, can be complex, and for some members of the target audience their cog nitive ability, experience and motivation may not be sufficient for them to draw their own conclusions.
The complexity of the product requires that messages must draw conclusions for them. It should also be remembered that even highly informed and motivated audiences may require assistance if the product or issue is relatively new. 2. The level o f education possessed by the receiver Better-educated audiences prefer to draw their own conclusions, whereas less educated audiences may need the conclusion drawn for them because they may not be able to make the inference from the message. 3. Whether immediate action is required If urgent action is required by the receiver, then a conclusion should be drawn very clearly.
Political parties can be observed to use this strategy immediately before an election. 4. The level o f involvement High involvement usually means that receivers prefer to make up their own minds and may reject or resent any attempt to have the conclusion drawn for them (Arora, 1985). One- and two-sided messages • This concerns whether the cases for and against an issue or just that in favour are presented to an audience. Messages that present just one argument, in favour of the product or issue, are referred to as one-sided.