Investigating the Comparative Effectiveness of Demonstrative and Straight-Sell Comparative Advertisements.
Keywords: Straight-Sell Comparative Advertisement; Demonstrative-Comparative Advertisement; Advertising Effectiveness
Like other operations, advertisement is also an important operation of the organization and plays very important role in the success of an organization. Hence companies use a great amount of its budget on promotion of its products and services through advertising (Higie and Sewall, 1991). Due to spending of such a great amount of budget, companies are so much concerned about the effectiveness of their advertisements (Koekemoer and Bird, 2004). Advertising executional styles play an important role in the effectiveness of advertisements. These executional styles consist of slice of life, demonstration, comparison, testimonial, scientific evidence etc. (Belch and Belch, 2003). Advertising practitioners use comparative executional style in advertisements in which comparison between two products is made and hence intend to present the differential points of their products and services (Dholakia and Simonson 2005).
Consumer's clarity about the product and its features is higher when they watch the company product in a comparative advertisement against a generic type of advertisement (Grewal et al., 1997). Anderson and Renault (2009) state that comparative advertisements have greater and positive effects on consumers' behavioral responses as compared to non-comparative advertisements. According to Myers et al. (2010), comparative advertisements have greater positive effects on consumers recall and brand attitude as compared to non-comparative advertisements. Though the superior performance of comparative advertisements (referred to straight-sell comparative ads in this study) in relation to non-comparative advertisements has been addressed by researchers, however, still some researchers believe that straight-sell comparative advertisements showing the comparison between two competing brands have serious limitations that can reduce its effectiveness (Williams and Page, 2013).
Kunda (1990) asserts that due to its comparative nature, the straight-sell comparative advertisements lead to derogative and part-list cuing effects in consumers' minds and hence it minimizes its effectiveness. Researchers also believe that comparative advertisements enhance consumer's anger and skepticism (Myers et al., 2010). Marketing researchers have addressed methods of minimizing these limitations, however so far, no good results have been found. Williams and Page (2013) believe that these limitations can be minimized by embedding some other executional styles in straight-sell comparative advertisements. After reviewing the literature on different executional styles, it has been argued that these limitations of straight-sell comparative ads (e.g., derogative and part-list cuing effects) can be minimized by embedding demonstrative executional styles (e.g., product demonstration in ad) in comparative advertisements (Williams and Page, 2013).
More particularly, the embedding of demonstrative executional style in comparative ad which includes presenting the usage of product and showing to consumers the end results of using that product in the advertisement will minimize these limitations of comparative ads (Williams and Page, 2013.). Hence this study attempts to investigate the relative effectiveness of demonstrative-comparative advertisement and straight-sell comparative advertisements and addresses that how the limitations of comparative advertisements can be minimized by embedding demonstrative executional style in it.
Advertising Executional Styles
Communicating an advertising message to the audience in such a way that evokes them to respond in favorable manner and convince them for taking certain action i.e. to purchase their product is known as advertising executional style (Belch and Belch, 2003; Koekemoer and Bird, 2004). Different advertising researchers have mentioned advertising executional styles with different names, for instance Wells et al. (2006) have mentioned it with "Message approaches", Duncan and Ouwersloot (2008) have termed it "executional frame work" and Belch and Belch (2003) have used the term "advertising execution". These researchers have mentioned different executional styles but the executional styles that are commonly believed by marketing communication researchers are comparison, straight-sell, slice of life, demonstration, celebrity endorsement, scientific or technical evidence and humor.
Effectiveness of advertising executional styles has been richly debated from previous few decades by both advertising practitioners and researchers. According to Manrai and Gardner (1992), advertising executional styles differentiate a positive advertisement from a negative one. According to marketing researchers' different executional styles have different types of effect on consumer's behavioral responses. Moreover, these researchers believe that some executional styles are more effective than other executional styles in affecting consumer's recall, attitude and buying behavior (Anderson and Renault, 2009). Advertising researchers believe that among these executional styles, comparative advertising executional style has been found more effective in achieving the goals of brand superiority (Anderson and Renault, 2009) because in comparative advertising the companies directly claim their superiority against competitor's product (Grewal et al., 1997).
Pechmann and Stewart (1991) found that about 80% of TV ads involve either direct comparison or indirect comparisons that have varying level of effects on consumer's recall, attitude and purchase intention. According to Anderson and Renault (2009), half of the ads that they took as a sample were consisting of comparative ads.
Effectiveness of Comparative Advertisements
Comparative advertisement is that type of advertisement which compares two brands in such a way that the sponsor brand claims its superiority against the target brand with the aim of enhancing the perception of the sponsor brand (James and Hensel, 1991). The purpose behind such type of advertisement (comparative ads) is to verbally and visually communicate the competitive advantage of the superior brand. This type of advertisement has also been named as negative ads, attacking ads, knocking ads, and contrast ads (Moore, 1999). Comparative advertising can be of two types naming direct comparative advertisement and indirect comparative advertisement (Grewal et al., 1997).
Advertisement in which the companies mention the name of their competitor is known as direct comparative advertisement and the advertisement in which companies show broad and general comparison and does not mention the name of their competitors such as "the leading brand of the category, number one brand of Pakistan etc." is known as indirect comparative advertisement.
The effectiveness of comparative advertisements has been thoroughly debated in advertising research from few decades and different researchers have studied its effectiveness in different ways (Pechmann and Ratneshwar, 1991; Droge and Darmon, 1987; Rose et al., 1993, and Miniard et al., 1993). While researchers believe in the superior performance of comparative ads to elicit greater recall, its effects on developing positive advertising and brand attitude (Persuasion) is somewhat mixed (e.g., Williams and Page (2013); Grewal et al., 1997; Putrevu and Lord, 1994). Comparative advertisement presents two competing brands and is relevant to both the sponsored brand for which it is meant and also to users of competitor brand since it also mentions the name of competitor brand; hence such ads attract greater attention of audience than other executional styles (Grewal et al., 1997).
Greenwald and Leavitt (1985) assert that comparative advertisement has greater level of involvement (e.g., greater attention) and thus leads to greater recall as the level of involvement decides the level of elaborations of thoughts (Grewal et al., 1997; Putrevu and Lord, 1994) and the level of thoughts elaboration leads to process the information deeper in consumers' mind (Mitchell and Olson, 1981). The deeper processing of information in mental capacity leads to longer term memory and thus higher recall (Ahmad and Mahmood, 2011). Hence, comparative advertisements are more likely to cause greater brand and advertisement recall.
In contrast to greater recall potential of comparative advertisements, the effect of comparative ads on consumers' attitude (Attitude towards advertising and brand attitude) is however debatable. Consumers' attitude towards advertising is their feelings about an advertisement (Grewal et al., 1997). Researchers have shown that comparative advertisements generate less favorable advertising attitude than non-comparative advertisement (Gorn and Weinberg, 1984). Wilkie and Farris (1975) state that since comparative advertisements show two competing brands, that is sponsored brand and competitor brand, hence the users of competitor brand may think it as an attack on their brand which will lead to their counter argument and derogative feelings in their mind. Droge and Damon (1987) found that comparative ads are thought to be unfriendly, unpleasant, aggressive and less believable advertisement.
According to Prasad (1976), since comparative advertisements present two brands of the similar product category, it may lead to sponsor mis-identification and might detract consumers from sale because consumers might possibly get confused about which brand is being promoted (Prasad, 1976). Another limitation of comparative advertisement addressed by marketing communication researchers is that comparative advertisements may possibly enhance the awareness of competing brand too, and it is also possible that consumers might not frame the advertisement at point of retrieval which may results in customers misjudgment that the advertisement was sponsored by the competitor brand (Myers et al., 2010; Barone and Miniard, 1999; Kunda,1990; Hill and King, 2001).
Anderson and Renault (2009) and Myers et al. (2010) also believe that comparative advertising may increase consumer skepticism and anger of the consumers who already use the competitor's brand, as they may think comparative ad as attacking ad on their brand (Myers et al., 2010; Anderson and Renault, 2009). Because of its competing nature, comparative advertising may cause decrease in the believability and the credibility of the sponsored brand rather than enhancing it (Chang, 2007; Barrio-Garcia and Luque-Martinez, 2003).
On the other hand, still other advertising researchers believe that comparative advertisements develop more favorable brand attitude of consumers compared to non-comparative advertisements (Putrevu and Lord, 1994). According to these researchers, comparative advertisements develop favorable brand attitude either by differentiating the sponsor brand from the competitor brand or by associating it with a renowned competitor's brand (Grewal et al., 1997; Putrevu and Lord, 1994; Ratneshwar and Shocker, 1991).
Hence, as revealed by advertising scholars, though few researchers on comparative advertisement has addressed its superior performance in eliciting greater recall and more favorable ad and brand attitude as compared to non-comparative advertisement (Grewal et al., 1997; Putrevu and Lord, 1994; Ratneshwar and Shocker, 1991), majority of other researchers believe that comparative advertisements have serious limitations (e.g., Derogative feelings towards the sponsoring brand, misidentification of the sponsoring brand) which minimize its effectiveness (Kunda, 1990; Chang and Chou, 2008; Hill and King, 2001).
However, Williams and Page (2013) believe that these limitations of comparative advertisements can be minimized, and its effectiveness can be enhanced by embedding some other executional styles in comparative advertisement. After reviewing the advertising literature and by looking into the characteristics of different executional styles, it can be inferred that by embedding demonstrative executional style in comparative advertisement, the limitations and negative effects of comparative advertisement can be minimized. Since demonstrative advertisements present the usage of the product as well as the final results of using certain product (Kivinen, 2014; Lair, 2013), these characteristics can enhance consumer's believability (Hill and Mazis, 1986) and can also minimizes other limitation of comparative advertisement.
Demonstrative advertisement is that type of the advertising executional style which demonstrates the actual use of the product, presents how it solves a particular problem by showing the distinctive features of the product or service in actual use as well as this type of executional style presents the final results of using certain product (Kivinen, 2014). Because of its characteristics of demonstrating the actual use of the product and presenting the results, the demonstrative advertisements are rich in product related information and hence it enhances consumers' recall and persuasion (Kivinen, 2014). Hill and Mazis (1986) believe these characteristics of demonstrative advertisement may enhance consumer preference of liking such advertisement. Demonstrative advertisements are much effective in making consumer remember its claim and in changing the belief of consumers. Hence such advertisements reduce the uncertainty and enhance brand and advertisement recall (Lair, 2013; De Mooij, 1998).
Advertising researchers believe that if company wants to enhance the persuasiveness of their brand, they need to adopt demonstrative executional style of advertisement as it has been found to be more effective in achieving the persuasive objective of the message strategy (James and Hensel, 1991; Marshall, 2006). Thus, coping with the problems and limitations of comparative advertisements and by looking into the more persuasive characteristics of demonstrative executional style, this study suggests that the limitation of comparative advertisement may be overcome by embedding the demonstrative executional style in comparative advertisement. Hence this study is majorly analyzing the relative effectiveness of demonstrative-comparative advertisement.
The executional style that consists of both demonstrative and comparative executions in the same advertisement is known as Demonstrative-Comparative advertisement. The advertisers combine the two executional styles in which the sponsored brand is compared with competitors' brand by demonstrating the features and benefits of both the sponsor brand and the competitor brand as well as it also demonstrates the results of using both the brands. Since demonstrative advertisement shows actual process of using a product and also presents the results achieved from using certain product, hence demonstrative ads have positive effects on consumers' persuasion, enhance their believability towards the advertisement and the product and also increase their memorability (Lair, 2013; De Mooij, 1998).
Hence, by combining these two executional styles (comparison as well as demonstration) and by embedding demonstrative executional style into comparative advertisement, the limitations of comparative advertisement can be minimized, and the effectiveness of comparative advertising can be enhanced by the synergetic effect of demonstrative and comparative executions in the same ad.
More specifically, demonstrative-comparative advertisement will lead to greater advertising and brand recall than straight-sell comparative advertisement (Only comparative ads). As demonstrative-comparative advertisement shows comparison by presenting the actual use and the final results of using two brands, hence such advertisement will grasp comparatively greater consumer's attention. Moreover, greater attention of advertisement will require greater allocation of consumer's memory (Kunda,1990); hence, information will be processed deeper in the viewer's memory (Ahmad and Mahmood, 2011). Thus, the negative effects of "sponsor mis-identification" of comparative advertisement can be overcome. This way demonstrative-comparative advertisement will have significantly positive and greater effects on consumer's advertisement and brand recall. Based on the above discussion and evidence from the literature, the study hypothesizes that:
H1: Demonstrative-Comparative advertisement leads to greater advertisement recall as compared to straight-sell sell comparative advertisement.
H2: Demonstrative-comparative advertisement leads to greater brand recall as compared to straight-sell sell comparative advertisement.
Further, the characteristics of demonstrative-comparative advertisement (that is showing actual process of using the product and presenting the final results of using the product) enhance the believability of consumers on demonstrative-comparative advertisement (Lair, 2013). Hence due to greater believability of consumers on demonstrative-comparative advertisement (Lair, 2013; De Mooij, 1998), the derogative and part-list cuing effects of straight-sell comparative advertisement will be minimized. Thus, demonstrative-comparative advertisement will lead to develop greater positive consumers advertising attitude as compared to straight-sell comparative advertisement. Further, according to effect transfer mode (Kunda, 1990), the positive effects of consumer's advertising attitude will positively affect their brand attitude as well. Hence demonstrative-comparative ads will also elicit greater positive brand attitude towards the sponsor brand. Keeping the discussion in view this study further hypothesizes that:
H3: Demonstrative-comparative advertisements elicit more positive advertisement attitude as compared to straight-sell comparative advertisement.
H4: Demonstrative-comparative advertisements elicit more positive brand attitude as compared to straight-sell comparative advertisement.
Keller (1993) states that consumer consideration-set consists of few most preferred brands that receive consumer's consideration for future purchase (Campbell and Keller, 2003). Attitude of consumers towards a brand is also considered an important antecedent of the actual behavior of consumers about a brand (Belch and Belch, 2003). Advertisement that builds favorable brand attitude and is relatively more memorable leads to development of favorable brand knowledge (Keller, 1993), and thus positive brand equity (Brown and Stayman, 1992; Cobb-Walgren et al., 1995). Cobb-Walgren et al. (1995) state that positive brand equity in consumer's mind leads to greater purchase intention for the respective brand (Ahmad and Mahmood, 2011). Hence, this study hypothesizes that:
H5: Demonstrative-comparative advertisement leads to greater purchase intention as compared to straight-sell comparative advertisement.
In the above discussion the influence of demonstrative-comparative advertisement on advertising effectiveness presents that demonstrative-comparative advertisements will have more favorable effects on components of advertising effectiveness i.e. recall (Ad and Brand), attitude (Ad and Brand) and purchase intention compared to straight-sell comparative ads. In light of the above discussion and literature review, this study presents its framework and related hypotheses.
H1: Demonstrative-Comparative advertisement leads to greater advertisement recall as compared to straight-sell comparative advertisement
H2: Demonstrative-comparative advertisement leads to greater brand recall as compared to straight-sell comparative advertisement.
H3: Demonstrative-comparative advertisement elicits more positive advertisement attitude as compared to straight-sell comparative advertisement.
H4: Demonstrative-comparative advertisement elicit more positive brand attitude as compared to straight-sell comparative advertisement.
H5: Demonstrative-comparative advertisement leads to greater purchase intention as compared to straight-sell comparative advertisement.
This study adopted quantitative research approach. Since the study aims at investigating the cause and effect relationship of advertising executional styles and advertising effectiveness, hence experimental study design was adopted. Stimuli advertisements (straight-sell comparative advertisements and demonstrative-comparative advertisements) were embedded in a television program so that a real scenario could be developed. These embedded advertisements were shown to two different but homogeneous groups of consumers (senior business graduates). Data was collected from 140 senior business students, however respondents participated in experimental set up by their will and they were set free whether they wanted to participate or not. Respondents were randomly assigned to each of the two experimental groups; demonstrative-comparative and straight-sell comparative advertisement groups.
The subjects of the study were told that they are participating in a research study, but they were unaware from the specific purpose of the research study. Once respondents watched the television program, questionnaires were handed over to them tapping their responses on measuring the advertising and brand recall, their advertising attitude, brand attitude and their purchase intention. Consumer's advertising and brand recall for the respective brand that they watched in advertisement embedded in a television program were measured through open ended questions. They were asked to write down the features of the advertisement and brand names that they just watched in the television program (Till and Baack, 2005).
Repondents attitude towards advertsement was measured using 6 itmes on 7-point likert scale (Baker and Kennedy, 1994), their brand attitude was also measured using 6 items on 7-point Likert scale (Geuens and De Pelsmacker, 1998; Lee and Mason, 1999) and their purchase intention was measured using three items on 7-point Liker scale (Geuens and De Pelsmacker, 1998). The data was transferred into SPSS-20 from the questionnaire for the purpose of analysis. Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) was applied on the data as the purpose of the study was to investigate the significant difference between the effectiveness of demonstrative-comparative and straight-sell comparative advertisements.
As discussed earlier, Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) was used for the purpose of data analysis. The table below presents the test statistic of different advertising measures and advertising executional styles i.e. demonstrative-comparative and straight-sell sell comparative advertisements.
Table-1: Mean Analysis of Advertising Executional Styles and Advertising Effectiveness Measures
###Comparative Ads###Comparative ads
Hypothesis one of the studies stated that demonstrative-comparative ad leads to significantly greater advertising recall as compared to straight-sell sell comparative advertisement. The result of study substantiates this assumption as the mean advertising recall for demonstrative-comparative advertisement i.e. 3.84 is greater than the mean advertising recall of straight-sell sell comparative advertisement i.e. 2.14. The results of MANOVA confirm the significant difference between the advertising recall of demonstrative-comparative and straight-sell comparative advertisement (F =269.50; p <.05). Hence, hypothesis one of the studies addressing the superior performance of demonstrative-comparative advertisement in terms advertising recall as compared to straight-sell comparative advertisement was supported.
Hypothesis two of the study proposed that viewers who were exposed to demonstrative-comparative advertisement will recall greater number of brand names than the viewers who watched straight-sell comparative advertisement. Investigating the interactive effect of advertising executional style on the number of brands recalled, the descriptive statistic revealed that respondents who have watched demonstrative-comparative advertisement recalled greater number of brand names (Mean: 3.91) than the respondents who watched straight-sell comparative advertisements (Mean: 2.66). Result of Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) confirms the significant difference of brand name recall across advertising executional styles (F= 148.923, Sig <.05). Hence, based on the statistical evidence obtained, the second hypothesis of the study addressing the superior performance of demonstrative-comparative advertisement in terms of brand names recalled as compared to straight-sell comparative advertisement is also supported.
Table-2: Result of MANOVA: Ad Type by Recall, Ad and Brand Attitude and Purchase Intention
Type of Ad###Ad Recall###101.150###1###101.150###269.250###0.000
Type of Ad###Brand Recall###55.31###1###55.31###148.931###0.000
By looking into the characteristics of demonstrative and comparative executional styles discussed in the literature review section, hypothesis three of the study proposed that demonstrative-comparative advertisements will produce favorable advertising attitude as compared to straight-sell comparative advertisements. The result of descriptive statistics confirms this superior performance of demonstrative-comparative advertisement in terms of advertising attitude as the mean advertising attitude of demonstrative-comparative advertisement (Mean= 4.9067) is much greater than mean consumers advertising attitude towards straight-sell comparative advertisement (Mean=3.8483). MANOVA also confirms the significant difference between the advertising attitude of these two executional styles as presented in table 1 (F= 26.938; Sig <.05). Hence, considering the results, the third hypothesis of the study was also substantiated.
Based on the proposition that since positive advertisement attitude develops favorable brand attitude in consumers mind, hypothesis four of the study proposed that demonstrative comparative advertisements lead to more favorable consumers brand attitude compared to straight-sell comparative advertisements. Like the result of hypothesis three, the brand attitude of research subjects was found more favorable towards the brands they watched in demonstrative-comparative advertisement than those who watched straight-sell comparative advertisements. The differences in table 1 for both the executional styles evidence this as the mean brand attitude for demonstrative-comparative advertisement (Mean= 4.875) was higher than the mean brand attitude of straight-sell comparative advertisement (Mean= 4.127). Result of Multivariate Analysis of Variance also confirms the significant difference between the brand attitude of demonstrative-comparative and straight-sell comparative advertisements (F= 17.297, Sig <.05).
Thus, in line with hypothesis three in light of the results of statistical data, hypothesis four of the study was also substantiated.
Advertisement that has greater recall ability and develop favorable brand attitude leads to positive customer-based brand equity and subsequently greater purchase intention (Keller, 1993). In line with hypothesis five, it was hypothesized that since demonstrative-comparative advertisement leads to greater recall and develops more positive brand attitude as compared to straight-sell comparative advertisement, this will lead to comparatively greater purchase intention as well. The analysis of the responses obtained from the respondents was analyzed for the purchase intention of the brand presented in demonstrative-comparative advertisement and straight-sell comparative advertisement subsequently. The result obtained from Multiple Analyses of Variance confirms the significantly higher purchase intention for the brands presented in demonstrative-comparative advertisements (Mean = 5.11) than those of straight-sell comparative advertisements (Mean = 3.94) (F=38.530, p <.05).
Table-3: Result of MANOVA: Ad Type by Ad-Attitude, Brand Attitude and Purchase Intention
Type of Ad###AD-Attitude###38.147###1###38.147###26.938###0.000
Type of Ad###Brand Attitude###19.021###1###19.021###17.297###0.000
Type of Ad###Purchase Intention###46.966###1###46.966###38.530###0.000
Discussion and Future Research
This study investigated the comparative effectiveness of demonstrative-comparative and straight-sell comparative advertisements. Demonstrative-comparative advertisements were found to have greater and positive effects on consumers recall (advertising and Brand), their attitude (advertising and Brand) and their purchase intention as compared to straight-sell comparative advertisements.
The results of the study are in line with past research work on advertising effectiveness. Research states that advertisement which grabs greater attention will have greater recall ability and which also supports the theory of associative memory network model (Anderson, 1983) and information processing model (Craick and Lockhart, 1972). Since demonstrative-comparative advertisements present two brands in the same advertisement and demonstrate its usage process and the final results, hence such ads lead to greater advertising recall as compared to straight-sell comparative advertisements. Furthermore, since demonstrative-comparative advertisement presents the usage and final results of using both the competitor and the sponsored brand, hence such ads also minimize the derogative and par list-cuing effects of comparative advertisements.
Moreover, the demonstrative comparative ads also announce the name the of the winner brand at the end of the advertisement, hence it also minimizes the sponsor mis-identification limitation of comparative advertisement. This in turn leads to more favorable advertising and brand attitude compared to straight-sell comparative advertisement. Thus, the findings of the study confirm the superior performance of demonstrative-comparative advertisements compared to straight-sell comparative advertisements and support the theory of Affect Transfer Model (Mitchell and Olson, 1981). Finally, this study also finds that due to greater recall ability and more favorable brand attitude, the demonstrative-comparative ads were found to have greater purchase intention compared to straight-sell comparative advertisements.
The greater effectiveness of demonstrative-comparative advertisements suggests that embedding of demonstrative execution style in comparative advertisement may minimize and overcome the limitation of straight-sell comparative advertisement. Therefore, advertising practitioners and marketing managers might find it useful to present demonstrative-comparative ads instead of straight-sell comparative ads.
As no research is free of limitations and always space for improvement, this research study has also few limitations that could be addressed in future. The first limitation of the study was using student as a sample which was mainly based on the specific experimental requirements of the study. In future, the study could be replicated using sample other than students as student sample limits the generalization of the findings of the study. Second limitation of the study was using the brands of almost similar product category due to availability of stimuli advertisement. This limitation could be overcome by replicating the study in future with brands from different product categories. Another limitation of the study is the less developed culture of experimental research in Pakistan (Ahmad and Mahmood, 2011). This limitation may have affected the findings of the study thus, it is suggested that the study could be replicated in the developed countries to further substantiate the study results.
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|Author:||Ayaz, Shaukat; Ahmad, Wisal; Rashid, Mehboob ur|
|Publication:||The Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences|
|Date:||Jun 30, 2018|
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