Persuasion Theories In Advertising Essay, Research Paper
Persuasion Theories in Advertising
We are bombarded daily with a variety of communicative devices that attempt to influence our thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes in some way. The primary role of this advertising methodology is to persuade, to change the way we construct a certain meaning in our head. Persuasion is a very powerful tool in affecting our idea of how, what or who people should be. The media uses this tool in an attempt to create a need for their product in society. In the ad for Orthro Tri-Cyclen birth control pills they focus on the added benefit their product has over other birth control pills and topical skin medications. The producers try to entice the consumer into using their brand by promising extra rewards. The strategy producers employ to execute this persuasion and the effectiveness of that strategy will be identified and analyzed through the advertisement for Ortho Tri-Cyclen birth control pills.
Advertisers use a variety of techniques to modify our thoughts, beliefs and actions. One such strategy is the source used to transmit their message. We, as consumers, judge the source and formulate an opinion about the product based partly on their representation of it. There are three main categories, or source characteristics, we use to analyze a source, credibility, similarity and attractiveness. In this ad for Ortho Tri-Cyclen the source is the young woman who serves as a spokesperson for the company. I will use the characteristics mentioned above to assess the source presented.
Credibility is an essential factor to a communicator s effectiveness. Their message is believed to have a greater influence if they are perceived as credible sources. Credibility is dependent on a source s believability, which in turn depends upon five sub-factors: competence, trustworthiness, extroversion, composure, and sociability (DeFleur, Kearney &Plax, 1998). This source s credibility is questionable because she is in no way presented as being an expert in either birth control or dermatology. Any knowledge she has on the subject is assumed to be through experience. However, she is not professing a superior position of I know what is best for you . Rather she is in the position of it worked for me and it could work for you . Trustworthiness is hard to measure in this ad because we have no inclination to trust or to not. Our trust is constructed from the fact that she uses or has used the product and has a flawless complexion with no children to show. Extroversion is not a determinant of credibility in this case because it is impossible to tell how outgoing or bold the source is with our limited perspective. The composure of the source refers to their emotional state, if they are confident and poised and relaxed, they show more reliance in the product they represent. She is all of these things, which reflects her assurance in her product. She also sends signals of nonverbal immediacy, leaning forward, giving direct eye contact and smiling. This makes her sociable, she seems friendly and caring, just through her body language. It is as though she is making a personal recommendation to each one of us. She appears completely sincere and so we tend to give her a high credibility rating, and believe in the product she represents.
There are several other components that are used to analyze a source in an advertisement. One of the source characteristics is attractiveness. In our society, it is an unspoken fact that, what is pleasing to the eye has more value. Meaning, the more relative attractiveness sources have determines, in part, their effectiveness. The source in this ad is of average attractiveness. However, her overall appearance is polished. Her hair is neatly done in a contemporary style, she is well dressed in a casual way and has very natural make-up on. She is a typical young woman, offering advice on a birth control method that will help your complexion too. Her attractiveness is also a part of the degree of similarity she has to her intended receivers. Similarity is important because the product will be more easily accepted and adopted if the consumer identifies with the spokesperson. If the consumer relates to the source, the message given by the source becomes more relevant. It is for this reason that ads are becoming increasingly targeted at a specific audience (Ross Altarac, 1999). Attractiveness and similarity are valuable in establishing the capability of the source in delivering an effective message to consumers.
Message strategies are tools used by advertisers to persuade consumers and to effectively promote their product. Some are designed to accommodate this theory of specificity. There are two routes an advertiser can take in the persuasion process, central and peripheral (Donnerstein, 1999). In this ad the central route is used, making what is presented more important than who is presenting it. The audience is more critical of persuasive appeals because they have some knowledge of the product, and so they think carefully about the message. In this ad, the message focuses on the phrase, “If you decide to take the Pill, why not take the only one that helps your skin look better too?” They need to convince their consumers that there is some benefit to using their product. This “reward for behavior” technique is a prosocial Behavior-Alteration Technique. The prosocial technique is defined by messages of a certain kind, congruent with the message presented in this ad, that motivate people to yield to a particular influence (DeFleur, Kearney & Plax, 1998). Messages include phrases like, “It will help you” and “You will get a reward if you do”(DeFleur, Kearney & Plax, 1998, p.297). In this ad, the benefit of using Ortho Tri-Cyclen is better looking skin. It is a very rational appeal. In lecture, Shari Ross Altarac addresses Maslow s hierarchy of needs, and how ads address people at different levels. According to Maslow, people are inclined to satisfy the lower level needs first. This message is directed at more than one level on Maslow s diagram, Safety needs, and Social and Esteem needs. The use of the Pill in any case concerns safety needs, and the security of having protection against unplanned pregnancy. They build brand preference by linking their product onto these needs (Ross Altarac, 1999). The benefit of having better looking skin covers both the Social needs and the Esteem needs. Acne and other skin blemishes are a social stigma, and so the promise of better skin heightens a sense of belonging, which in turn raises self-esteem. Good looking, clear skin is more socially acceptable, and so is sought in many different ways by many different people. This is the essence of their Pill, it not only protects but it reduces acne, in most women, and acne is a problem that most women have to deal with at some point in their life. So, using this Pill over others conquers two problems in one dose.
The company uses a plain-folks pitch to reach their audience. The plain-folks pitch places the product in a normal environment, and associates it with simplicity. It appeals to an average person, in this case an average woman who suffers from acne and needs birth control. The source has takes the position of being an example of how well the product works. She is a representation of the positive effects the product could potentially have on any woman. The woman in this ad is easy to relate to and so women buy into the slogan. This ad uses very subtle persuasion. They are making a recommendation, without being forceful or adamant. It is well known that many other contraceptives are available, with this in consideration the producers of the ad claim that if this is the option chosen, their brand has an advantage.
The audience targeted by this ad is young women who are interested in finding a contraceptive to use, who also happen to have acne problems. This is specifically stated in the written accompaniment of the ad reading that Ortho Tri-Cyclen is ” a good choice for women with mild to moderate acne” whose previous attempts to clear their skin have failed. The targeted audience is also illustrated in other aspects of this ad. Most obviously, this ad is designed for women. Accordingly, a woman spokesperson is used, more specifically a young, attractive, poised, married woman. The benefit of having better looking skin suggests that the producers are targeting an audience of younger women, since acne is most common in teenage girls. The wedding ring on the finger of the source is a small detail that accords with the societal belief that pre-marital sex is unacceptable. By having the source in this birth control ad wear a wedding ring, they are safeguarding themselves against any criticism of encouraging sexual activity before marriage. Therefore, this ad may be targeted at newly wed women. This ad is very effective because it plays on the insecurities of young women. The advantage of having better looking skin is a very lucrative reward for using this product. The subtlety of this ad is also very attractive to a consumer because the product is not pushed at you. Many people, especially teenagers resent getting told what is best for them, and will often rebel from it for spite. This ad recognizes this and so recommends that if this is the choice made, this is the most beneficial product to use, it gives the consumer something to consider.
For this reason, I think this ad would be effective with college students. College students, in general, want to be in control of their lives and so giving them room to make their own decision makes the ad more favorable. The fact that Ortho Tri-Cyclen treats two things at once also draws students to this product. Money is a valuable and scare commodity among college students, therefore a Pill that cleared their skin while serving as a contraceptive is a wise investment, over buying two products to do the same job. Stating the advantages of birth control pills versus other contraceptives could raise the effectiveness of the persuasion on students. Safety is a big concern for women in college who choose to be sexually active, so addressing the effectiveness of the Pill alone is more convincing. The prosocial aspect of the persuasion is a key factor in reaching college students. Receiving an extra benefit, even if it is expected, is always advantageous to the prospective buyer.
After analyzing this ad it is evident, that persuasion is a very complex process. Many different components contribute to the effect a message will have on its intended receiver, and in advertising the efficacy of the message will hopefully bring about the desired change. A main objective of advertising is creating brand preference and Ortho Tri-Cyclen accomplishes this by offering an added benefit to using their product. They attach their product to the intrinsic human needs of safety and acceptance, as described by Maslow. The source used is appropriate for the purpose of the ad, in that she effectively represents the product without overshadowing it, and appeals to the target audience of average women with average concerns. Although the persuasion in this ad is very discreet, it is only part of a grand scheme that successfully reaches it s intended audience.