Resultant Nonmonotonic Curve

How Fear Operates Before deciding to use a fear appeal-based message strategy, the advertiser should consider how fear operates, what level to use, and how different target audiences may respond. One theory suggests that the relationship between the level of fear in a message and acceptance or persuasion is curvilinear, as shown in Figure 6-5.56 This means that message acceptance increases as the amount of fear used rises—to a point. Beyond that point, acceptance decreases as the level of fear rises.

This relationship between fear and persuasion can be explained by the fact that fear appeals have both facilitating and inhibiting effects.57 A low level of fear can have facilitating effects; it attracts attention and interest in the message and may motivate the receiver to act to resolve the threat. Thus, increasing the level of fear in a message from low to moderate can result in increased persuasion. High levels of fear, however, can produce inhibiting effects; the receiver may emotionally block the message by tuning it out, perceiving it selectively, or denying its arguments outright. Figure 6-5 illustrates how these two countereffects operate to produce the curvilinear relationship between fear and persuasion.

Figure 6-5 Relationship between fear levels and message acceptance

Acceptance of message recommendation

Facilitating effects

Acceptance of message recommendation

High

Resultant nonmonotonic curve

High

Resultant nonmonotonic curve

Inhibiting effects

A study by Anand-Keller and Block provides support for this perspective on how fear operates.58 They examined the conditions under which low- and high-fear appeals urging people to stop smoking are likely to be effective. Their study indicated that a communication using a low level of fear may be ineffective because it results in insufficient motivation to elaborate on the harmful consequences of engaging in the destructive behavior (smoking). However, an appeal arousing high levels of fear was ineffective because it resulted in too much elaboration on the harmful consequences. This led to defensive tendencies such as message avoidance and interfered with processing of recommended solutions to the problem.

Another approach to the curvilinear explanation of fear is the protection motivation model.59 According to this theory, four cognitive appraisal processes mediate the individual's response to the threat: appraising (1) the information available regarding the severity of the perceived threat, (2) the perceived probability that the threat will occur, (3) the perceived ability of a coping behavior to remove the threat, and (4) the individual's perceived ability to carry out the coping behavior.

This model suggests that both the cognitive appraisal of the information in a fear appeal message and the emotional response mediate persuasion. An audience is more likely to continue processing threat-related information, thereby increasing the likelihood that a coping behavior will occur.

The protection motivation model suggests that ads using fear appeals should give the target audience information about the severity of the threat, the probability of its occurrence, the effectiveness of a coping response, and the ease with which the response can be implemented.60 For example, the Havrix ad in Exhibit 6-14 discusses how tourists can pick up hepatitis A when traveling to high-risk areas outside the United States and describes the severity of the problem. However, the ad reduces anxiety by offering a solution to the problem—a vaccination with Havrix.

It is also important to consider how the target audience may respond. Fear appeals are more effective when the message recipient is self-confident and prefers to cope with dangers rather than avoid them.61 They are also more effective among nonusers of a product than among users. Thus, a fear appeal may be better at keeping nonsmok-ers from starting than persuading smokers to stop.

In reviewing research on fear appeals, Herbert Rotfeld has argued that some of the studies may be confusing different types of threats and the level of potential harm portrayed in the message with fear, which is an emotional response.6 He concludes that the relationship between the emotional responses of fear or arousal and persuasion is not curvilinear but rather is monotonic and positive, meaning that higher levels of fear do result in greater persuasion. However, Rotfeld notes that not all fear messages are equally effective, because different people fear different things. Thus they will respond differently to the same threat, so the strongest threats are not always the most persuasive. This suggests that marketers using fear appeals must consider the emotional responses generated by the message and how they will affect reactions to the message.

Humor Appeals Humorous ads are often the best known and best remembered of all advertising messages. Many advertisers, including FedEx, Little Caesar's pizza, Pepsi, and Budweiser, have used humor appeals effectively. Humor is usually presented through radio and TV commercials as these media lend themselves to the execution of humorous messages. However, humor is occasionally used in print ads as well. The clever PayDay ad shown in Exhibit 6-15 is an excellent example of how humor can be used to attract attention and convey a key selling point in a magazine ad.

Advertisers use humor for many reasons. Humorous messages attract and hold consumers' attention. They enhance effectiveness by putting consumers in a positive mood, increasing their liking of the ad itself and

Exhibit 6-14 This ad uses a mild fear appeal but reduces anxiety by offering a solution to the problem

Exhibit 6-15 This clever ad is an example of how humor can be executed in print media

Exhibit 6-15 This clever ad is an example of how humor can be executed in print media

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Advertising With Circulars

Advertising With Circulars

Co-op Mailing means that two or more businesses share in the cost and distribution of a direct mail campaign. It's kind of like having you and another non-competing business split the cost of printing, assembling and mailing an advertising flyer to a shared same market base.

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