Academic journal article International Journal of Electronic Commerce Studies

The Effect of Narrative Transportation in Mini-Film Advertising on Reducing Counterarguing

Academic journal article International Journal of Electronic Commerce Studies

The Effect of Narrative Transportation in Mini-Film Advertising on Reducing Counterarguing

Article excerpt

1.INTRODUCTION

The persuasive effectiveness of narratives has increasingly drawn attention from advertising research in recent years. Compared to expository or argumentative ads, narrative ads elicit more favorable product evaluations1, stronger self-brand connection2, and a more positive attitude toward the brand as well3. Many scholars have conceptualized and theorized persuasive mechanism of narratives as a 'transportation' process2, 4 5 6 7, referring to the integrative melding of the attention, imagery, and feelings of the viewers who are 'transported' into the fictional worlds of the stories, just like being moved from one place to another, and cognitively and affectively experience the constructed worlds in the story8, 9 Transported viewers who are absorbed in the storyline would be less motivated and less able to argue the story points as well as less inclined to perceive them as persuasive in nature. Counterarguing, a form of cognitive resistance10 against persuasive content in the narratives, is therefore reduced, leading to changes in beliefs, attitudes, and even behaviors9, 11, 12

This persuasive process of narrative transportation may complement the possible persuasion 'routes', as theorized in the landmark study of Petty and Cacioppo13. The persuasive effect of transportation is derived from neither central nor peripheral processing of the viewers7, 9 11. Since viewers who have been transported are absorbed or immersed in the story, the influence of persuasive messages imbedded in the narrative will be a function of the extent of transportation with the narrative rather than the form, format, or the quality of the argument of the messages11. Deighton, Romer, and McQueen14 have long argued that drama (narrative) ads function in a very different way compared to argumentative ones. Relying on plots and characters, a drama ad draws the viewer into the events it portrays. The audience becomes 'lost' in the story and adopts the feelings of the characters. The viewers will accept the benefits of the promoted brand because they are less disposed to argue the ad's messages.

Since the cognitive resistance of the manipulative intent adversely affects the advertising persuasiveness3, 15, the ability of narrative transportation to suppress or distract from the counterarguing may be one of the most important persuasive strengths of narrative transportation7, 9. To measure counterarguing, communication and advertising researchers usually employ the 'thought listing' technique, where subjects report their favorable and unfavorable thoughts concerning the narrative with imbedded persuasive messages16. However, the concept of reduced counterarguing is difficult to measure because it occurs outside of an individual's awareness10. Another possible way to investigate the cognitive processing involved in a reduction of counterarguing is to consider the origin of these arguments and examine whether they play a significant moderating role in the transportation effect. Greater involvement with an issue is presumably related to greater resistance to persuasion, and stronger attitude can withstand stronger force of opposing persuasive appeals17. Along this line of thinking, three possible factors in marketing research, involvement with the product category, a preexisting attitude toward a specific brand, and the attitude toward advertising in general, may influence the degree of counterarguing against ads messages. The reduced or diminished influence of these factors on brand attitudes and purchase intentions promoted by narrative ads provide additional evidence that the persuasion mechanism of narratives is distinct from expository one.

Using an online innovative advertising format termed as mini-film (or Net film)1 , 9 as an experimental treatment, this study empirically tested the transportation and reduced counterarguing effects of narrative ads in order to clarify the persuasive mechanism of narrative ads in general and minifilms in particular. …

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