“Let’s talk about sex!”

I usually introduce my blogs by providing the reader with an experience that inspired my blog topic. However, I think on this occasion it’s best not to go into that detail. Only joking! In fact, as I was watching TV a few days ago, there was a stream of aftershave and perfume adverts promoting their brands for Christmas. I couldn’t help but be bombarded with SEX during these adverts. Firstly, you always get this perfect looking couple on the screen making passionate love to each other. Alternatively, it would be some beautiful woman removing items of clothing (always a good use of advertisement space), or the most “ripped” guy in the world standing there clearly saying to himself “Hey ladies, come and see how good I look”. Maybe, I’m just being bitter and jealous though. Secondly, you get that sexy woman’s voice, enticing you with her French accent.

Anyway, this made me consider whether sexual images in advertisements actually influence our purchase decision. With our TVs and other media, showing sexual advertisements regularly, it can only be assumed that sexual advertisement is effective. Is this is in fact the case? It has been claimed by Hetsroni (2007) (See Reichert, 2010) that 10% of network and cable television commercials contain sexual content. It is crazy to think that 1 out of every 10 commercials will contain some form of sexual imagery. How do sexual advertisements affect our purchase decision? Who are these adverts aimed towards?

What can we learn about the techniques used by advertisement companies who use sexual images? Reichert (2010) claims that in most cases sexual content is central to the brand message, however this is not always the case. Aftershave and deodorant companies use sexual advertisements to make the consumer think that using their brand will attract females (e.g. Old Spice & Lynx). One technique possibly used by advertisements is subliminal messaging (see Reichert, 2010). The use of sexual words or phallic symbols being exposed in this way could possibly enhance the consumer’s perceptions to the brand without them realizing why. According to Reichert (2003), men and women are being targeted with different sexual messages. Men receive sexual behavior appeals. Therefore, most sexual adverts targeting men aim to make the consumer think that, by using a certain product, it may increase his chances of attracting a female. A perfect example is that of Lynx “The teenage smell of desperation”, however, we still think that women love the smell of lynx because that’s what the advert shows us. Women are targeted more by sexual esteem appeals. This means that when women are exposed to a sexual advert, they are led to believe that using a certain brand will enhance their attractiveness and self-esteem. Therefore, there is evidence that the advertisers use different techniques in sexual commercials to enhance our perceptions of the product. Are these techniques effective though?

Lynx advert

As suggested by Reichert (2010), sexual adverts have the potential to distract the consumer from the brand message and the product itself. An example of this is the raunchy Kylie advert shown by Caroline in the lecture. Although, I remember it was advertising lingerie, I can’t tell you the name of the brand though. An example of how sexual adverts might be effective, is the fact that sexual adverts increase consumer arousal (see Reichert, 2010). This high level of arousal can elicit positive attitudes towards a product. According to MacCannell (as cited in Mick & Politi, 1989) we are attracted to sexual images because we always strive to want something that we can’t get. Therefore, in relation to sexual advertisements, I would be likely to want to purchase a certain aftershave because I want to attract the sexy woman in the advert. Even though I realize this is  “slightly” unlikely, I still feel an urge to try. Mick and Politi (1989) found slight evidence to support MacCannell’s theory.

I still don’t know the brand 🙂

As previously mentioned, sexual content can potentially be a distraction. This is shown in a study by Parker and Furnham (2007), who tested participant recall for an advertised brand which had been embedded within a sexual show (Sex and the City) and a non-sexual show (Malcolm in the Middle). They tested for sexual and non-sexual adverts as well. They found that recall was impaired when the participants had seen the sexual show. However, there was no difference between the content of the adverts and recall. This has huge implications for future advertisement strategies.

Who are these adverts aimed towards?  Reichert (2003) found that out of 57 sexual adverts, 84.2% showed women compared to 15.8% for men. Also of interest, 46.7% showed heterosexual couples. Therefore, sexual advertisements appear to predominantly focus on a male audience. As suggested in Reichert (2010), men are more in favour of arousing advertisements; females are on the other hand in favour of images of couples and romantic settings. Of interest, males are better at recall of sexual adverts, whereas females are better at recalling non-sexual adverts. Therefore, this evidence seems to suggest that sexual adverts may mostly target a male audience.

To conclude, there appears to be mixed messages about the effectiveness of sexual advertisement on consumer attitudes towards brands. Furthermore, there appears to be strong evidence to suggest that sexual advertisement is mainly male oriented. What do you think?

“Merry Christmas everyone” – Shakin’ Stevens (1985).


“mADman…The King of Blogs”

This week, I will be discussing the use of slogans in advertisements. In case you thought that I was being cocky with my title, it was in fact a play on the Budweiser slogan “King of Beers”. The other day, as I sat thinking up my latest blog topic, I thought to myself about the amount of slogans used in television adverts. Then I considered whether the use of slogans really enhances brand recognition and brand perception. It is clear that with certain brands, the slogans are as memorable as the brand name itself. One such slogan being, “You either love it, or you hate it”. Depending on where you are from in the world, most of us would see that and realise that this slogan was for Marmite. Therefore, I did not have to hear the brand name to associate the slogan with the product itself. However, is the slogan as powerful in all brands? If they are, what makes them so effective? If they are not, why is this the case?

Slogans are taglines which are used by a business to accompany a brand. The slogan tells the consumer what the brand is about and should influence what the consumer thinks about the brand and how they evaluate it (Rosengren, 2006). Mantonakis (2011) stated that slogans are used as part of a firm’s marketing, to communicate a brand’s premise and enhance consumer memory for a brand. It seems to be that slogans are used as retrieval cues for consumers to remember brands (Rosengren, 2006). Rosengren goes on to suggest that slogans can influence a brand by; creating brand awareness by linking the brand to the product category, shaping brand evaluations by priming specific brand associations (Ennis & Zanna, 1993; Pryor & Brodie, 1998), shaping brand evaluations by transfer of likeability, and reinforcing brand awareness and evaluations by serving as a memory aid. Therefore, it could be said that slogans have the potential to be very effective in enhancing brand recognition, likeability and awareness. However, brands exist in a much “cluttered” environment where it is essential that they compete with other similar brands for the consumer’s attention (Rosengren, 2006). Thus, the brands need to use slogans carefully as a tool to improve the brand recognition.

Slogans can be effective in a number of ways. Kohli, Leuthesser and Suri (2007) suggested that slogans can serve as “hooks” or “handles”. Therefore, the use of the slogan may grab the consumer’s attention. Once the attention is grabbed, if the slogan is catchy enough, then the consumer is likely to remember that brand. There is evidence from Ennis and Zanna (1993) who found that slogans influence product beliefs when used with car advertisements. Furthermore, Pryor and Brodie (1998) found that slogans can influence brand evaluations. They found that brand extensions are rated as more similar to an existing brand when slogans primed attributed that the extension shares with existing products. It seems that slogans are very beneficial in accompanying the brand. Below is an example of the Carlsberg slogan (Rosengren, 2006).

“Probably the best beer in the world”

How does this slogan enhance the consumer’s perceptions and awareness of the brand though? “The best” implies to the consumer that this brand is the number one brand in its category. The word “Probably” is only going to enhance the perception the consumer has of the beer, leaving it slightly open for the customer to judge for themselves. Therefore, over time, when the consumer thinks about the brand Carlsberg, they will instantly think about that brand being “the best beer in the world”. This is all good, but is there anything within that slogan (not the logo above) to let us know that it is referring to Carlsberg?

Without a clear brand-slogan match, there is nothing to say that the slogan could not be matched to a number of other beer brands. This leads me on to my next point. Could the use of slogans be ineffective or detrimental to a brand? Kohli et al (2007), stress that it is essential that the slogan is linked with the brand. The slogan can be as catchy and memorable as you like, but if it is not linked to the brand, then it is at a risk of being mismatched with another similar brand. Evidence of this comes from research by Nieuwstribune (1993) (as cited in Pham & Johar, 1997) who found that 39% of consumers mistakenly attributed Amstel’s slogan to other beer brands. This has the possibility of being detrimental to Amstel, especially if another beer company is benefiting from their slogan. Rosengren (2006) claimed that consumers use one of three memory processes when matching brands and slogans: (1) Cued Retrieval; (2) Memory Construction; or (3) Pure guessing. If we like a brand and we know the slogan very well, we tend to use cued retrieval. Cued retrieval leads to the most accurate recall of brands when given slogans. Memory construction is used when you think that you have a good idea of which brand the slogan is associated to, but you’re not entirely sure. Constructive memory is sensitive to memory distortions. This is where consumers might mismatch the brand with another similar brand at recall.

I conducted a brand-slogan quiz (see at bottom of page) to see for myself whether I could see how accurate people were at naming specific brands. I asked 7 people to give the brand name to the 20 corresponding slogans. I found that out of the 20 items given, there was a mean score of M=12.5. What was of interest was the fact that most people did in fact use the memory construction processing method mentioned above, when they were not sure of an answer. There was also evidence of a mismatch between some of the slogans and their brands. One such mismatch was “The taste of paradise”. This is a Bounty slogan, but it was mismatched with Lilt and Malibu. Therefore, from the research given, it seems clear that slogans can be effective for the brand when used correctly and ineffective/detrimental to the brand when not. What actually makes a successful slogan though?

As already mentioned, it seems imperative that the brand is linked in some way to the slogan to avoid brand confusion amongst consumers. However, even if the brand is linked with the slogan, that doesn’t make the slogan effective. There are a few different suggestions for the most effective way to present a slogan. One way is to use repetition as much as possible so that a strong association is formed between the brand and the slogan (Alreck & Settle, 1999; Kohli et al, 2007). Mantonakis (2011) suggested that the use of a pause between the tagline and the brand is effective. Therefore this method allows the consumer to digest both the slogan and the brand separately but in a way in which they are linked. Conversely, Yalch (1991) (as cited in Kohli et al, 2007) found that presenting slogans as a jingle was the most effective method for memory recall of the associated brand when tested after. Therefore, there seems to be a few different methods which companies can use to make their slogans more effective for enhancing the consumer’s awareness and beliefs associated with a brand.

An example of a jingle used in an advert.

To conclude, slogans appear to be beneficial to businesses for promoting their brand when used in the right way. There are different methods available to businesses to make their slogans as attention grabbing as they can in a world cluttered with different slogans. However, if the slogans are not thought out well enough and not linked to the brand, they can have adverse consequences for a company, especially when a rival brand might be benefiting from this mistake.

Here is the quiz below! Give it a go if you like! You have already been given 2 of the answers in the text. Good luck!

  1.  “The world’s local bank”
  2. “Vorsprung durch technik”
  3. “Every little helps”
  4. “The taste of paradise”
  5. “You either love it, or you hate it”
  6. “It’s good to talk”
  7. “The King of beers”
  8. “How do you eat yours?”
  9. “It’s the real thing”
  10. “I’d rather have a bowl of…”
  11. “Buy it. Sell it. Love it.”
  12. “For hands that do dishes”
  13. “The best a man can get”
  14. “Good things come to those who wait”
  15. “Because mums are heroes”
  16. “Finger lickin’ good”
  17. “Have a break. Have a …”
  18. “Because I’m worth it”
  19. “The totally tropical taste”
  20. “It does exactly what it says on the tin”

Play me a tune and I will give you some money

This week my blog will be exploring the influence of background music in advertisement. Believe it or not, the reason for this blog is because, as I was watching TV a couple of days ago I was horrified to see that the “Toys R Us” advert song had changed. For those of you who know this song, it was catchy and magical. Anyway! Enough ranting! It made me consider whether the background music in adverts actually have an effect on my liking for the brand. Furthermore, how does this music influence my liking for the product? And could advertisement companies use any style of music to influence us? Or is there a prominent style for each type of brand?

Not impressed with this 😦

This is what it should be 🙂 This is for nostalgia, not because I still love going there.

So, does music have an influence on our perceptions of a brand? Much research has found that music can have a significant effect on the way consumers feel about a product. Stewart and Punj (1998) found that background music in retail has a significant impact on the consumer’s behaviour. They found that volume, tempo, and type of background music can influence the amount of time a customer remained in the shop and the amount of items they purchased. They suggested that music might be used to attract attention, carry a product message, act as a mnemonic device, and create a feeling of excitement or relaxation. This is true for when I have been in clothes shops, such as Fat Face. Here, you are hit with chilled “Jack Johnsonesque” style music which gives out a message that this brand is cool, laid back and chilled. Does this influence in retail generalise to media commercials though? Alexomanolaki, Loveday and Kennett (2007) found that music plays an important role in facilitating implicit learning (learning without conscious recollection) and recall within advertisements. Many other studies have found that music influences our attitudes toward a product (e.g. Gorn, 1982; Alpert & Alpert 1989; Alpert & Alpert, 1991; Cook, 1994; Apaolaza-Ibanez, Zender and Hartmann 2010). We now know that research says that music influences our attitudes towards a brand, but how does it?

Stewart and Punj (1998) suggested that when we hear an advert on the radio, we use a dual coding system. We have two routes of processing (verbal & non-verbal e.g. music). They found that the non-verbal route elicits more imagery which links heavily with our emotions. Therefore music in adverts can influence our emotions. Another explanation is that music facilitates implicit learning whereby we form associations between the music and the product (Alexomanolaki et al., 2007). With music in the background our implicit memory of words and images associated with the product increases. Gorn (1982) supports this theory by stating that we form an association through classical conditioning between background music and the product being advertised. Alpert and Alpert (1989) suggest that a conditioned stimulus (brand) is paired with an unconditioned stimulus (music) and this produces an emotional response which is then associated with the brand. Therefore, with the vast evidence corroborating to suggest that classical conditioning is the process used when we hear music in a commercial, it is essential that the right music is used. Apaolaza-Ibanez et al (2010) support this suggestion by stating that an associative connection between a brand and a specific music piece can be established very quickly through a single exposure. So with this in mind, do certain brands need to be associated with certain styles of music to be effective?

Imagine, you are watching an advert where a stylish brand new Jaguar is being driven through Snowdonia. The car looks elegant, up-market and a smooth drive…..But then, all of a sudden you hear “System of a Down” playing over the top of the advert. I mean, I like both the music and the car, but the two don’t relate. What does the music say about the brand/product? That’s the important question. With a car like a Jaguar, you would expect to hear classical music in the background. Cook (1994) focused on an old Citroen advert from 1992 (Unfortunately I couldn’t find it L) and asked the same question, what does the music say about the brand? In the advert the background music used was a piece composed by Mozart. Cook (1994) suggested that Mozart’s music brings various attributes or qualities with it. These attribute or qualities enter into the discursive structure of the commercial and become associated with the product. Therefore, certain products are most probably associated with certain genres of music. Alexomanolaki et al (2007) found from their study that the best style of music to use for remembering and recalling an advertisement is a “Jingle”. This is because it carries verbal information in the form of music and not in the form of speech.

To conclude, research shows that music might appear to influence our feelings towards an advert and consequently a brand/product through classical conditioning. Furthermore, the style of music used has a big impact on the way we perceive that brand/product. Therefore, next time an advert decides to change a catchy song from my childhood, perhaps they should consider the impact it has on the way we perceive that brand afterwards.

Do Movies Advertise Destinations?

As I sat at home last week, seeking some solace from the impending assignments, I stumbled across my James Bond collection. This was a dangerous distraction which thus led to much procrastination. After the exhausting task of deciding which film to view, I settled down to watch “Casino Royale”. As I watched the film, I couldn’t help but notice the beauty of the destinations used in the film. I even turned to my housemate and expressed my surprise at how amazing Venice looked and indicated that I would want to visit the city again in the near future. Following my useful procrastination, I considered to myself whether I am more likely to want to visit somewhere based on my movie experience of that place?

Venice scene from Casino Royale

Avis (1993) (as cited in Tooke & Baker, 1996) stated that the exposure a film gives a city, province or country is an advertisement viewed by 72 million people. Take into consideration that Avis claimed this in 1993, therefore to date the number of viewers may be substantially higher. If this is the case, then movies might well be the best medium to advertise destinations. In what way could advertisement of destinations through movies enhance the viewer’s decision more than other types of media though? One explanation could be that, if we are constantly being bombarded by holiday advertisements, we might become immune to them. We might become aware of the hard sell strategies used by companies and this might “put us off”. However, in movies we vicariously experience the destination and are able to make our own decisions without the experience of a pressure sell (Riley & Van Doren, 1992). Could it be that destination advertisement in movies might be the cheapest and best way to get that place “on the map”? If you take into consideration the first “The Lord of the Rings”, the New Zealand Tourism Board estimated that commercially, it was worth over $41 million US dollars (New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, 2002) (as cited in Hudson & Ritchie, 2006). What evidence is there that this form of advertisement is effective though?

Kim and Richardson (2003) found that when they questioned participants about their interest in visiting Vienna after watching a film set in Vienna, they expressed higher levels of interest in visiting the city than those participants who had watched a different movie. When a destination is used in a movie, it appears to have a positive impact on tourism figures. As an example of this, the film “Troy” brought a 73% increase in tourism to Canakkale, Turkey. Another example of this is “The Lord of the Rings”, which brought a 10% increase in tourism to New Zealand from the UK every year from 1998 to 2003 (Hudson & Ritchie, 2006). There appears to be evidence to suggest that advertising a destination in a movie positively encourages tourism to that place. What is it that makes us want to visit these places though? Could it be that we are mesmerised by the beauty, magic or originality of the place? Or could be that we want to visit the place to re-live an event from a movie through our own eyes? Could it be a mixture of the two?

When we see destinations in movies, our desire to visit that place can be influenced by various factors. Riley, Baker and Van Doren (1998) emphasised the impact of “icons” (e.g. location’s physical features, events from the movie that have taken place at a specific site and identification with a favourite character etc.) on influencing the viewer’s feelings about a place. They go on to give an example from the film “Field of Dreams”. The baseball icon used in the film was associated with the diamond that was constructed in the middle of a cornfield, 30 miles from the closest city. This location received sufficient numbers of visitors to require paving and an access road. This is a perfect example of an increase in tourism to a destination based on the fact that it was used in an event from the movie. Riley et al (1998) went on to analyse 12 different locations from different movies and found that some tourists were allured by the physical beauty of the destination, whereas others just wanted to visit the site where a theme or event took place. If you consider a film such as, “The Sound of Music”, I think that viewers are allured to the location by both the physical beauty and the desire to re-live an event through their own eyes.

Another important factor which might influence our desire to visit a movie location might be the story itself. For example, if a positive/negative event took place at a film location, this may vicariously influence us to feel positively/negatively about that location. Furthermore, the level of empathy we share with a movie character can affect the way we view a destination (Kim & Richardson, 2003). As we watch a movie, we live through the character’s eyes, seeing the world in a similar way to how he/she sees it. We engage with the emotions felt at certain locations in the movie. As we empathise more and more with the character, we take in more and more information about the character’s surroundings (Kim & Richardson, 2003). For example, take a film such as “Castaway”. In this movie Tom Hanks is stranded on an island, all alone. Despite the fact that the island is tropical and enticing to the viewer, we can’t help but view it in a negative light because we empathise with the loneliness and despair experienced by Tom Hanks. Therefore, if it was possible to visit this location, we would be less inclined to want to visit it due to our film experience of that destination. Conversely, if a character experiences positive emotions at a destination within the movie, the viewer is more likely to share similar feelings about that location.   

Above: Castaway Picture

To conclude, there appears to be plenty of evidence to suggest that movies do succeed in advertising destinations. There appears to be a number of factors influencing viewer’s feelings towards the location though. The effectiveness of destination advertisement through the medium of movies has very important implications for tourism. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. I think I’m going to watch some films now and plan my next holiday!

“Glass bottled Coke tastes so good!”

Last week I was at home sipping on a nice chilled glass bottle of Coca Cola. The taste was really satisfying, it seemed a lot nicer than Coke from a plastic bottle or aluminium can. I thought to myself, surely this must be psychological, or just some odd personal preference I have acquired. I can’t imagine Coca Cola would make a subtle change to the flavour of their glass bottled drink. Then I decided to ask my friends “Do you prefer to drink Coca Cola from a glass bottle, plastic bottle, or can?” It seemed that this preference for glass was shared amongst my friends. Following this, I decided to Google search Coke packaging preferences and found that there was also a strong preference for glass bottled Coca Cola. What I’m going to look at this week is whether research shows a preference for glass bottled Coke and if it does, why do the majority of us have this preference? What could influence this preference?

Various research studies have suggested that the majority of consumers prefer to have a soft drink from a glass bottle. Sorenson and Bogue (2006) found that glass was rated the optimal product packaging for a carbonated energy drink. However, plastic was rated optimal for a still energy drink.  A Europe wide survey was sent out to 500 consumers from different countries in Europe to explore preferences in packaging material for food and drink (FEVE, 2011). The findings showed that nearly three quarters of the consumers preferred glass packaging for food and drink. The top three reasons for their preference were:

  1. Glass preserves food and drink better than other materials.
  2. Glass is cleaner, healthier and an all round safer option of packaging.
  3. Glass is environmentally friendly.

The environmental reason is supported in literature by Van Dam and Van Trijp (1994). They found that participants rated glass as their environmental choice over plastic. With regards to the second reason, research by Franklin and Madalinski (2009) suggested that plastic bottles have more chance of becoming contaminated than glass bottles. These research studies provide credible suggestions for why we might have a preference for drinking from glass bottles. However, I personally would not agree that my preference for drinking Coke from a glass bottle was due to me worrying about the environment, or even worrying about the possibility that a plastic bottle or aluminium can might be contaminated. So what is the driving force behind this preference for glass bottled Coke?

One possibility could be that drinking Coke from a glass bottle is nostalgic. Holbrook (1993) suggested that “Nostalgia refers to a longing for the past, a yearning for yesterday, or a fondness for possessions and activities associated with days or yore”. Kardes, Cline & Cronley (2011) state that, nostalgia transports you back to a time when life was simple, you were happier, and life seemed grand. You don’t have to have lived at the time when the product was most popular to feel nostalgic about it. Consumers tend to have a preference for retro products because they are considered fashionable (see nostalgic Coca Cola advert below). Another reason for a glass bottle Coke preference could be because the majority of TV advertisements used by Coke tend to feature a glass bottle (see examples below). Therefore, these adverts might subconsciously make us think that the best way to drink Coke, would be from a glass bottle (I mean it must be good if Santa is drinking from a glass bottle!).

– Nostalgic Christmas Ad

– Example of glass bottle advertisement

– Another example

Another reason for a glass bottle preference could be explained through the theory of classical conditioning. When I considered the different situations where I would drink Coke from a glass bottle, I came to the conclusion that the majority of the time, this would be when I’m at a nice cafe or bar. In this context I would probably be paying more for the drink than I would if I bought Coke from a supermarket. Therefore could I have learnt to associate the glass bottled Coke with good quality? (You would expect to pay more for items of a higher quality) Below is an example of this.

When you go to any nice cafe/bar, you expect to pay more for a drink than if you were just buying a drink from a shop. Paying more is usually associated with higher quality. Therefore, when I go to any nice cafe/bar (unconditioned stimulus – US), I expect to pay more due to higher quality (unconditioned response – UR). If I regularly consume Coke from a glass bottle (neutral stimulus – NS) at any nice cafe/bar (US), I will begin to associate the NS and UR without the presence of the US. Thus I will begin to associate the glass bottled Coke with higher quality.

To conclude, research corroborates with the view that glass bottles are preferred to other soft drink packaging. It is unclear as to why people might prefer to drink Coca Cola from a glass bottle. However research into nostalgia and classical conditioning could go some way to explaining this preference. Although a small number of people I know agree with my preference, I’m not making a generalisation. I understand that many people may have a preference for plastic or aluminium soft drink packaging. However, it would be very interesting to see your opinion on this topic.

I bet you £50 we’ve all been tempted to gamble at some point in our lives.

This week, I have decided to look into the effectiveness of gambling advertisement on our behaviour. Personally, I have always enjoyed the excitement of placing a small bet on football results. Sometimes I win a substantial amount but mostly I walk away empty handed. Therefore, I think to myself, why do I keep betting? If it is very rare for me to win anything, why do I continue to waste my money? Could it be the thrill of the odd occasion that I win? Or the excitement that I feel once I’ve placed my bet? Or am I being heavily influenced by the advertisements? Before I continue, I must clarify that I do not suffer from a gambling addiction… I at least hope not anyway. Only last night, I decided I would place a bet on the football. As I was watching the match, the half time score wasn’t going the way I had wished. Then during the commercial break, I was exposed to betting adverts (see clips below for examples), providing me with details of how I could place bets during the match itself and win big money. I felt very tempted, however on this occasion I decided not to. My concern though, is that there are many people who are being influenced by these adverts and a large proportion of these might be adolescents.

The most common gambling advertisement in the UK has to be ‘The National Lottery’. The lottery gives each and every person who plays a chance to be millionaires. Many people play the lottery, however, do they consider the fact that they only have a 1 in 14million chance of winning (Griffiths, 2005). The lottery have used statements such as “It could be you” to tempt the consumer into thinking that they stand a real chance of winning if they play. Who are most affected by these advertisements though? Griffiths (2005) suggested that one of these demographics is the “working class”. It has been found that this category of people are very susceptible due to the amount of TV they watch. Another demographic is adolescents (Griffiths, 2005; Monaghan, Deverensky & Sklar, 2008), whose minds have great plasticity, thus putting them at a risk. Constant exposure of gambling advertisement is giving credibility to its source and making it seem as though gambling is an acceptable, harmless activity (Griffiths, 2005; Moore & Ohtsuka, 1999). We know that adolescents are being influenced by gambling advertisement but it is imperative that we understand the reasons why.

One possible explanation could be the advertisement used in sports. As I had previously mentioned, when I watched the football last night, I was exposed to a number of different betting companies. Gambling advertisement is used, not just in commercials, but also in sponsorship on the footballer’s shirts (see image below) and the advertisement boards around the stadium. This influx of advertising has the potential to be a huge risk on the younger viewers, as they are susceptible to influence (Monaghan et al, 2008). Furthermore, adolescents might start to associate sport with gambling, thus leading them to view gambling as “cool” and exciting (Monaghan et al, 2008). Betting companies are also using special offers to draw the customers in (see advert below). This can only serve to persuade the viewer even more.

So what are the possible explanations for why people become addicted to gambling? Griffiths (2001) found evidence to suggest that operant and classical conditioning might explain this. Using the idea of operant conditioning, we might initially see an advert promoting gambling. This in turn leads us to place a bet. We might become positively reinforced after winning that bet, thus leading to repeated behaviour. Conversely, we might lose that bet, however the strength of the advertisement might influence us to try again in hope of a better outcome. Therefore, in both scenarios we are repeating the behaviour as a result of the intermittent rewards being provided. However, operant conditioning does not fully explain why we continue to bet. What if we did not win anything after 30 or so bets? Surely we would learn our lesson and stop? Classical conditioning could be used to explain why we continue to bet regardless of the outcome. When I previously informed you about my experience of placing bets, I mentioned the fact that I find it “exciting”. This excitement is an association I have formed with gambling and is therefore an explanation for why I and many others are influenced to gamble regardless of the outcome. If this explanation is true, then this has serious implications on the youth. For adolescents, there must me a heightened sense of excitement due to the fact that they know they shouldn’t be gambling at their age.

To conclude, previous research supports the fact that advertisement of gambling has a huge impact on viewers, especially adolescents. Perhaps, reducing the exposure of these adverts to youths will reduce the normalisation of gambling as an acceptable, risk free activity (Monaghan et al, 2008). We all know that betting shops exist and there’s always the option to gamble online but is it safe to advertise gambling as much as we do on TV?

By the way, in case any of you wondered, I did not win the bet I placed last night. I bet I would do it again though!

Humour grabs our attention but do we want to grab that product?

This week my blog will be discussing the impact which humour has on our decision to purchase an item. When I watch funny television adverts, I find that I give the advert my full attention. However does this necessarily mean that I am giving the product my full attention? Furthermore, does the humorous advertisement influence me to buy the product? Personally, I am mixed in my response to humour in adverts. Certain funny adverts have persuaded me to buy the product (see YouTube Clip 1), whereas others have had no impact whatsoever in making me want to purchase the item (see YouTube Clip 2).

Clip 1 – Bombardier Advert                                                                                                    Clip 2 – WKD advert

The reason I was persuaded to try the product in the first clip could be solely due to the fact that I admire the actor in the advert. Mehta (1999) suggested that that in most cases attitudes towards products are more favourable when the product is associated with celebrities.

Humour in advertisement appears to be consistent in grabbing the consumer’s attention, enhancing source liking and attitudes towards the advert itself (Eisend, 2009; Weinberger & Gulas, 1992). Eisend (2009) found that there was a linear relationship between the amount of humour in the advert and brand attitudes. Therefore, it is apparent that humour does improve our opinion of a product and the advert. Does this mean that we are any more likely to purchase the product though? Referring back to the second clip, I watch these adverts and find them amusing, yet I do not feel an urge to try the product.

So does humour really sell? Eisend’s meta- analysis (2009) found no evidence that humour impacts positively or negatively on our cognitions. Weinberger and Gulus (1992) support this finding by suggesting that humour does not appear to offer an advantage over non-humour at increasing persuasion. Eisend (2009) did find that humour increased purchase intention though. There appears to be contradictory evidence as to whether humour really sells or not. Therefore, we may have to consider the types of humour being used, and to what target audience.

There is evidence that humour can be gender specific. Weinberger and Gulas (1992) claimed that men enjoy sexual humour and women do not. However, this would most likely be reversed if men became the ‘butt’ of a sexual joke. Furthermore, there are a lot of adverts that use “male chauvinistic” humour. Surely this ostracises the female audience? (For example, see Carlsberg and WKD adverts below).


Could it be that humour only positively influences our purchase decision with certain products? Spotts, Weinberger and Parsons (1997) conducted a study to look at the impact that humour has on our decision to purchase different types of products. They found that humour was effective in influencing participants to want to purchase products such as, large appliances, snack foods, beer and alcohol etc. They suggested that this could be because products such as beer and snacks are consumed for self-gratification. These items require little attention and very little product information is required. Therefore, humour can be a useful tool to keep our attention on such products. Conversely, they found that humour had a negative effect for advertisement of cars, fashion and household items (e.g. cleaning products). It was suggested that this was because these items require high levels of attention and the audience needs information regarding the product. Humour may well distract the viewer’s attention from the product itself. Spotts et al (1997) claimed that these products shape the consumer’s personality and “making fun” of the product can be detrimental on the likelihood of the product being sold. Furthermore, research has found that humour significantly reduces source credibility (Eisend, 2009; Weinberger & Gulas, 1992). Therefore, if a product is particularly important to the consumer, they won’t want it to seem like it’s all a joke.

To conclude, research appears to be mixed in answering whether or not humour sells. I think that the success that humour brings to advertisements depend on the type of product it is used for, the type of humour being used and the gender specificity of the humour. Therefore, it is essential that companies carefully consider their target audience and whether humour is a necessary tool to advertise their product.