Antecedents of Attitude
Toward the Ad: A Conceptual
Richard J. Lutz Marketing Department University of Florida
The past few years have witnessed a rekindling of interest in the nature and effects of consumers' affective reactions to advertising stimuli. In contrast to earlier researchers' tendency to focus primarily on these affective reactions as criterion variables in their own right, recent researchers have investigated the construct attitude-toward-the-ad (Aad) as a mediator of advertising's effects on brand attitudes and purchase intentions ( Mitchell & Olson, 1981; Shimp, 1981).
The recent research attention focused on Aad parallels current persuasion research in social cognition in its explicit recognition that affective responses, as well as cognitive responses, are important indicants of overall message effectiveness. In particular, the elaboration likelihood model (ELM) posited by Petty and Cacioppo ( 1981) serves as a useful framework for integrating Aad effects and the more commonly utilized brand attribute ratings. The ELM postulates two basic routes by which a persuasive communication may exert influence on its audience: central processing, wherein message content is the primary influence, and peripheral processing, in which the audience is affected more by the source of the message or contextual factors than by actual message content. Petty and Cacioppo explicitly consider the role of audience involvement in their analysis of which persuasion route is likely to be dominant in a particular communication setting: the higher the involvement, the greater the tendency toward central processing. Given the increasingly widely held assumption that most advertising is inherently uninvolving, the peripheral route to persuasion, as represented by Aad, has intuitive appeal as a mechanism for understanding the effects of advertising on consumers.