Message Appeals

One of the advertiser's most important creative strategy decisions involves the choice of an appropriate appeal. Some ads are designed to appeal to the rational, logical aspect of the consumer's decision-making process; others appeal to feelings in an attempt to evoke some emotional reaction. Many believe that effective advertising combines the practical reasons for purchasing a product with emotional values. In this section we will examine several common types of message appeals, including comparative advertising, fear, and humor.

Comparative Advertising Comparative advertising is the practice of either directly or indirectly naming competitors in an ad and comparing one or more specific attributes.51 This form of advertising became popular after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) began advocating its use in 1972. The FTC reasoned that direct comparison of brands would provide better product information, giving consumers a more rational basis for making purchase decisions. Television networks cooperated with the FTC by lifting their ban on comparative ads, and the result was a flurry of comparative commercials.

Initially, the novelty of comparative ads resulted in greater attention. But since they have become so common, their attention-getting value has probably declined. Some studies show that recall is higher for comparative than noncomparative messages, but comparative ads are generally not more effective for other response variables, such as brand attitudes or purchase intentions.52 Advertisers must also consider how comparative messages affect credibility. Users of the brand being attacked in a comparative message may be especially skeptical about the advertiser's claims.

Comparative advertising may be particularly useful for new brands, since it allows a new market entrant to position itself directly against the more established brands and to promote its distinctive advantages. Direct comparisons can help position a new brand in the evoked, or choice, set of brands the customer may be considering.

Comparative advertising is often used for brands with a small market share. They compare themselves to an established market leader in hopes of creating an association and tapping into the leader's market. For example, Savin Corp. used comparative ads for a number of years that were aimed directly at Xerox, the market leader in the copier industry. The campaign was very effective in convincing decision makers at small and mid-size companies that Savin should be considered as an alternative to Xerox as well as other copier companies such as Canon, Konica, and Mita (Exhibit 6-13). Market leaders, on the

Exhibit 6-12 Visual images are often designed to support verbal appeals

Exhibit 6-13 Savin used a comparative ad to position itself against Xerox

Exhibit 6-13 Savin used a comparative ad to position itself against Xerox

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