The effects of hedges and pledges in advertisements for high and low reputation brands

Claims in advertising may vary in their use of probability markers that signal the degree to which the claim is true. Experimental research has compared hedges (which mark a claim as moderately probable) and pledges (which mark a claim as very probable). This research has generally neglected the proponent of the claims: the brand. There are reasons to believe that the brand behind the advertising affects to what extent people are persuaded by advertising claims. In two studies it was therefore investigated whether the reputation of the brand affects the persuasiveness of hedges and pledges. It was expected that hedges would be more persuasive for low-reputation brands, whereas pledges would be more persuasive for high-reputation brands. This expectation was tested in two experiments. In Study 1, hedges and pledges were compared in an ad that was provided after information about a brand’s reputation. In Study 2, hedges, plegdes and no markers were compared in an ad in which the brand’s reputation was incorporated. Both studies did not find empirical support for the hypothesis. In Study 1, hedges and pledges were found to be equally persuasive; in Study 2, pledges were found to be more persuasive than hedges.

  • Hornikx, J. (2012). The effects of hedges and pledges in advertisements for high and low reputation brands. In F. H. van Eemeren & B. Garssen (Red.), Exploring argumentative contexts (pp. 307-319). Amsterdam: Benjamins. [pdf upon request]

The influence of scientese on ad credibility and ad liking

Current advertising for beauty products makes abundant use of scientese, scientific jargon in statistical and/or verbal form. As of yet, no study has examined the impact of scientese in an advertising context. Therefore, an experiment investigates the credibility and liking of ads for different beauty products with and without scientese. The study assesses effects in a culture likely to be susceptible to scientese because of its large power distance and high uncertainty avoidance (Wallonia), and in a culture less likely to be susceptible to scientese (the Netherlands). Dutch (n = 72) and Walloon (n = 60) judged different ads for beauty products with or without different forms of scientese. In both cultures, ads with scientese were found to be more credible but less liked than ads without scientese.

  • Mulken, M. van, & Hornikx, J. (2011). The influence of scientese on ad credibility and ad liking: A cross-cultural investigation of ads for beauty products. Information Design Journal, 19 (2), 92-102. [pdf]

Variations of standpoint explicitness in advertising

Empirical research has demonstrated that variation in standpoint explicitness matters. In several research reports, explicit articulations of a standpoint or conclusion have been compared to more implicit articulations. Meta-analyses of such reports (Cruz, 1998; O’Keefe, 1997, 2002) have shown that messages with explicitly stated standpoints are more persuasive than messages without such standpoints. Such effects were not found for advertising messages, for which the conclusion – buy this product – seems relatively straightforward, regardless of the articulation of the conclusion (Cruz, 1998). There are different ways in which explicit conclusions may be articulated, one of which is the use of probability markers. Advertising research has compared hedges (which mark a standpoint as moderately probable) and pledges (which mark a standpoint as very probable). In this study, it was investigated whether the reputation of the brand affects the persuasiveness of hedges and pledges. Based on a study conducted by Goldberg and Hartwick (1990), it was expected that hedges would be more persuasive for low-reputation brands, whereas pledges would be more persuasive for high-reputation brands. This expectation was put to a test in an experiment.

  • Hornikx, J. (2011). Variations of standpoint explicitness in advertising: An experimental study on probability markers. In F. H. van Eemeren, B. Garssen, D. Godden, & G. Mitchell (Eds.), Proceedings of the seventh conference of the International Society for the Study of Argumentation (pp. 824-830). Amsterdam: Sic Sat. [pdf]

Conducting research on international advertising

International research teams that are knowledgeable about the cultures under investigation are considered a prerequisite for sound research. By virtue of a meta-analytic review, this study empirically compared international and national research teams that have conducted experiments on the effectiveness of cultural value adaptation in advertising. Results show that, although the composition of research teams does not make for dependable differences in the outcomes of these experiments, international research teams may be more capable than national teams of designing pairs of culturally-adapted-versus-unadapted advertisements. It may not matter much, however, whether the international team includes a representative of the audience’s culture.

  • Hornikx, J., & O’Keefe, D. J. (2011). Conducting research on international advertising: The roles of cultural knowledge and international research teams. Journal of Global Marketing, 24 (2), 152-166. [link]

Tijdschriftreclame uit de kleedkamer van de redactie

Advertorials zijn reclameboodschappen die zijn vermomd als journalistieke bijdragen (editorials), maar die wel degelijk van een merk afkomstig zijn om tot koop aan te zetten. Het ligt voor de hand dat advertorials daarom een commerciëler karakter hebben dan editorials die informatiever zouden moeten zijn. Herkennen lezers advertorials als commerciële, en editorials als informatieve berichten?

  • Hornikx, J., & Estourgie, V. (2010). Tijdschriftreclame uit de kleedkamer van de redactie. Tekstblad, 16 (5/6), 18-21. [pdf]

Is het aanpassen van advertenties aan culturele waarden in West-Europa zinvol?

Een prominente lijn van onderzoek naar cultuur en reclame wordt gevormd door experimenten waarin advertenties met cultureel aangepaste waardeappels worden vergeleken met advertenties met cultureel onaangepaste waardeappels. Uit een eerdere meta-analyse van bestaande experimenten bleek dat aangepaste advertenties overtuigender zijn en meer gewaardeerd worden dan onaangepaste advertenties, maar dat dit effect niet optrad voor West-Europese proefpersonen (Hornikx & O’Keefe, 2009). Een oorzaak hiervoor ligt mogelijkerwijs in de gebruikte waardedimensies: in studies met Europese proefpersonen werden waardeappels nauwelijks aangepast aan individualisme – collectivisme, terwijl andere studies met deze waardedimensie juist aanpassingseffecten vonden. In een nieuwe serie experimenten werd daarom nagegaan of advertenties met een aangepast individualistisch waardeappel in West-Europese landen effectiever waren dan advertenties met een onaangepast collectivistisch waardeappel. Een meta-analyse van deze experimenten laat zien dat ook aanpassing aan individualisme – collectivisme geen voordeel oplevert in advertenties voor West-Europese proefpersonen.

  • Hornikx, J., Groot, E. de, Timmermans, E., Mariëns, J., & Verckens, J. P. (2010). Is het aanpassen van advertenties aan culturele waarden in West-Europa zinvol? Tijdschrift voor Taalbeheersing, 32 (2), 114-127. [pdf]

English or a local language in advertising?

Studies have demonstrated frequent use of English in international advertising, but little is known about people’s preference for English versus local languages. This paper empirically investigated the difficulty of the English language as a possible determinant of people’s preference for English or the local language. In an experiment, Dutch participants judged a number of car ads with English slogans that were pre-tested as easy or difficult to understand. They were subsequently asked to express a preference for either the English slogan or the Dutch equivalent. Results showed that easy-to-understand English slogans were appreciated better than difficult-to-understand English slogans. Moreover, the degree of difficulty in comprehension of the English slogans affected participants’ preference for English. English was preferred to Dutch when it was easy to understand; when it was difficult to understand, English was appreciated as much as the Dutch equivalent. In conclusion, the experiment provides empirical support for the role of comprehension in the preference for and appreciation of English in international advertising.

  • Hornikx, J., Meurs, F. van, & Boer, A. de (2010). English or a local language in advertising? The appreciation of easy and difficult English slogans in the Netherlands. Journal of Business Communication, 47 (2), 169-188. [pdf]

Adapting consumer advertising appeals to cultural values

aicaIt is a truism that successful persuasive messages should be adapted to audience values. A substantial research literature—not previously systematically reviewed—has examined whether advertisements with appeals adapted to the audience’s important cultural values (e.g., individualism for North Americans) are more persuasive and better liked than appeals that are unadapted to such values. A meta-analytic review of that research finds that adapted ads are only slightly more persuasive (mean r = .073, 67 cases) and slightly better liked (mean r = .082, 66 cases) than unadapted ads. Moreover, these effects were mainly limited to North Americans and Asians and to values related to individualism-collectivism. In this chapter, we discuss explanations for these results and identify directions for future research.

  • Hornikx, J., & O’Keefe, D. J. (2009). Adapting consumer advertising appeals to cultural values: A meta-analytic review of effects on persuasiveness and ad liking. Annals of the International Communication Association, 33 (1), 38-71. [pdf, link]

Bespreking van “Advertising research – message, medium and context”

In Advertising research: Message, medium and context hebben Patrick de Pelsmacker en Nathalie Dens de 38 beste bijdragen geselecteerd uit de lezingen op de “International Conference on Research in Advertising” (ICORIA) in 2008 in Antwerpen. Het boek geeft een prachtig overzicht van recente empirische onderzoeken op het gebied van reclame. De bijdragen zijn ingedeeld in drie thema’s: het kan gaan om het effect van inhoudelijke keuzes in advertenties (bijvoorbeeld retorische figuren), om de invloed van het medium (bijvoorbeeld banners op websites) en om de rol van de context (bijvoorbeeld tv-programma’s om reclame heen).

  • Hornikx, J. (2009). Waarom geloven mensen reclame? Bespreking van: De Pelsmacker & Dens (2009). Advertising research – message, medium and context. Tekstblad, 15 (5/6), 52-53. [pdf]

Overtuigen met vreemde talen: de rol van taalimago

Reclamemakers gebruiken regelmatig vreemde talen om hun doelgroep te verrassen en te overtuigen. In dit artikel bespreken we recent onderzoek naar vreemde talen in reclame. Vreemde talen roepen verschillende associaties op die soms positief en soms negatief zijn. Empirisch onderzoek laat zien dat de overtuigingskracht van vreemde talen beïnvloed wordt door de koppeling met de producten die worden aanbevolen in de advertentie (bv. bij sinaasappels is Spaans effectiever dan bij wasmachines) en door het begrip van de gebruikte uiting in de vreemde taal (bv. gemakkelijk Frans is effectiever dan moeilijk Frans). We sluiten af met toepassingsmogelijkheden voor de onderwijspraktijk.

  • Hornikx, J., & Starren, M. (2008). Overtuigen met vreemde talen: de rol van taalimago. Levende Talen Tijdschrift, 9 (3), 14-20. [pdf]