Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Attitudes toward Specific Advertising Media (A^sub M^): Informative or Manipulative?

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Attitudes toward Specific Advertising Media (A^sub M^): Informative or Manipulative?

Article excerpt

Abstract

Attitudes toward advertising in general (A^sub G^) is a concept which often raises ethical, social and cultural concerns, and yet in the context of specific media, consumers are often more positive, and find advertising entertaining, thought-provoking, amusing and informative. This paper focuses on attitudes toward advertising in three specific media (A^sub M^) (print, television and online advertising) and aims to provide input into the design decisions of an advertising campaign. The survey is based on a sample of 425 Malaysian and international tourists, and one key finding is the positive view that respondents have about advertising in print, online and on television. In terms of attitudes to print advertising, social role and image makes the strongest unique contribution to A^sub P^; for television advertising product information makes the strongest unique contribution to explaining attitudes to A^sub TV^; and in terms of online advertising, hedonic pleasure makes the strongest unique contribution to explaining attitudes to A^sub O^.

Keywords: attitude toward advertising, marketing communications, online advertising, print advertising, television advertising

1. Introduction

Advertising can stimulate amusement, sadness, laughter and pathos. Advertising also reflects how people see themselves: who they are and who they identify with, and can penetrate and reflect status, economically and socially. Images shown in advertising provide prototypical expectations about consumption patterns, characteristics of consumers, young or old, male or female, and blue collar or professional (Hirschman & Thompson, 1997). Advertising is able to promote positive values, behaviors and attitudes such as sociability, affection, generosity, patriotism, ecumenism, personal enrichment, and security (Holbrook, 1987). Advertising spend is also positively linked with economic growth (Kopf et al., 2011).

In contrast, advertising in general is viewed as a discipline and practice which has negative social and cultural repercussions (Pollay & Mittal, 1993; Sandage & Leckenby, 1980) and is criticized for unintended consequences which relate to its emphasis on a range of negative behaviors including materialism, cynicism, irrationality, selfishness, anxiety, social competitiveness, sexual preoccupation, powerlessness and a loss of self-respect (Pollay, 1986; Pollay, 1987). Advertising faces a barrage of criticisms (Kopf et al., 2011) much of which can be placed into one of two broad categories: first, advertising is blamed for being inherently wasteful by inflating the prices paid for goods and services; and second, advertisers are accused of creatively promoting perceived obsolescence and imbuing products with self-worth, freedom, adventure, and success (Dauvergne, 2010). The question of ethical values in advertising practices is also one of the controversial issues driving negativity towards advertising, especially in relation to advertisements on the television. Despite the strict guidelines in many countries designed to protect children from negative advertising influences and to ensure that advertisements directed at them are ethically and morally acceptable, parents and other consumer protection groups feel that television advertising causes harm to certain audiences, especially young and vulnerable viewers (Bandyopadhyay, 2001).

An advertisement is a paid-for 'announcement of a work, a good or a service described by means of general publishing to broad masses of people' (Ünsal, 1982 p.12 cited by Kes, 2011) and this definition includes e-advertisements, which seek to generate sales via the Internet (Kes, 2011). Many consumers also enjoy advertisements, and indeed find advertising entertaining, thought-provoking, amusing and informative, but which elements of separate advertising media best predict attitudes to advertising in general? Do these contradicting opinions continue to reflect people's general attitudes towards advertising, even in the context of specific media? …

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