Advertising and the Mind of the Consumer: What Works, What Doesn't, and Why

By Max Sutherland; Alice K. Sylvester | Go to book overview
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to a highly involved audience? People who are highly involved are more attentive and also have lower thresholds. To go back to our word recognition experiments, people who have not eaten for several hours recognize food words (like apple, bread, cake) faster than those who have just eaten. Hunger makes them process food words faster because their minds are more attuned to any stimuli that may be relevant to that immediate need.Most of the tests we have done of 15-second commercials have been with low-involvement, fast-moving package goods. Funnily enough, until recently there seems to have been less inclination to try 15s in higher- involvement product categories such as cars or business products and services. Yet it is precisely here, with the more highly involved audiences, that 15- second ads should have a better chance of working--but the message still needs to be simple.It is less demanding to get through to an interested, motivated audience. The communicator has to put in less work to get the message across because the audience is predisposed to put in more effort to understand and internalise the communication. Highly motivated students are likely to pay more concentrated attention to the lecturer and work harder at trying to understand and internalise what he has to say. There is less onus on the lecturer because the students are more naturally attentive.We rarely find this level of involvement in advertising. However, when aimed at highly involved groups, a 15-second ad can work in its own right-- if the message is simple. It may apply, for example, to a business ad with something new to say that is aimed at an involved audience watching a business program. Or a Toyota dealer advertising a red-hot price on Corollas to people actively shopping around for a Corolla. The key here is involvement, which affects not only attention but also the amount of work the recipient is prepared to do to take out the message.
Summary
What needs to improve is the ability of advertisers and ad agencies to realistically select the brands and strategies that lend themselves to 15-second commercials, and to use the ads in ways that maximise the chances for effectiveness. We can no longer afford to ignore the growing evidence on 15-second commercials.
Solo, stand-alone 15-second commercials are all too often used inappropnately and rarely work, especially with low-involved audiences.

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