Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Effects of Metaphor Advertising on Brand Extension Evaluation: Construal Level as Mediator

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Effects of Metaphor Advertising on Brand Extension Evaluation: Construal Level as Mediator

Article excerpt

Metaphors are at the core of communication in modern advertising. It has been reported that at least one metaphor is used in the headlines of nearly 75% of print advertisements (Kim, Baek, & Choi, 2012). Metaphorical claims can be presented both visually or verbally; for example, the Colgate-Palmolive company used a string of bright pearls to suggest that this brand of toothpaste can make users' teeth shine like pearls. Similarly, the Toyota Motor Corporation used the brand slogan "Toyota moves forward as your partner."

Researchers have found that metaphor advertising can be effective in persuasion (Toncar & Munch, 2001), enhances the consumer's attitude toward a brand and advertising (Kim et al., 2012), increases the perceived novelty (Chang & Yen, 2013) and increases the consumer's interest in (Ang & Lim, 2006), and memory recall of the advertising (McQuarrie & Glen Mick, 2003).

However, in most research on metaphor advertising the focus of researchers has tended to be on its effect on judgment or choice and the impact it has on people's thinking style or mindset has been overlooked. Moreover, given the potential of brand extension as an effective and frequently used branding strategy, marketing researchers have been paying increasing attention to the extension strategy. However, no study has been conducted in which the relationship between metaphor advertising and consumers' brand extension evaluations has been examined. Thus, drawing on construal level theory, we investigated the effects of metaphor advertising on consumers' thinking style or, more specifically, their abstract mindset, and on brand extension evaluations relative to their effects on construal levels.

Literature Review and Hypotheses Development

Metaphor Advertising

Metaphors are a common rhetorical strategy used in marketing and tend to elicit a comparison between two objects by suggesting that one object is like the other, even though they are from different domains (McQuarrie & Phillips, 2005). According to some scholars, metaphors "deviate from expectations, and yet are not rejected as nonsensical or faulty phrases" (Ang & Lim, 2006, p. 3). Others believe that a metaphor can be used in the "understanding or perceiving of one kind of thing in terms of another kind of thing" (Lakoff& Johnson, 2003, p. 5). When a metaphor is used in advertising a claim is made figuratively rather than literally and, thus, a metaphor represents a type of indirect claim; in other words, in metaphor advertising messages are relatively implicit and need effort to be understood (McQuarrie & Phillips, 2005). Metaphors comprise three parts: a source, that is, the object the attributes of which are borrowed; a target, that is, the object to which the attributes are ascribed; and a ground that has the same attributes as the source and target (van Mulken, van Hooft, & Nederstigt, 2014).

According to Morgan and Reichert (1999), metaphors used in advertising can be divided into visual and verbal types. People generally use gestalt and piecemeal processing to process visual and verbal stimuli (Townsend & Kahn, 2014). Gestalt processing (used for visual stimuli) is faster and easier, compared with piecemeal processing (used for verbal stimuli), as well as less deliberate and complex. Thus, compared with verbal metaphor advertising, visual metaphor advertising is easier to recall and comprehend and more effective in persuasion (Chang & Yen, 2013). Further, visual metaphor advertising is more implicit than the verbal type and allows for more interpretations (Gkiouzepas & Hogg, 2011).

Metaphor advertising can positively impact marketing by altering consumer beliefs (Phillips & McQuarrie, 2009), increasing both their cognitive and affective elaborations (Kim et al., 2012), improving their motivation to process (Chang & Yen, 2013), and enhancing their product expectation (Kronrod & Danziger, 2013). …

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