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This chapter reviews a research programme on the effects of humour in advertising on positive and negative brand associations and brand choice, and integrates the findings into a single overarching model. Based on the Associative and Propositional Processes Model of Evaluation (Gawronski & Bodenhausen, 2006, 2007, 2011), we propose that repeated pairings of a novel brand with brand-unrelated humour forms positive brand associations, which mediate spontaneous brand choice. This associative process was found to be independent from the level of distraction posed by humour and from awareness of the stimulus pairings. In fact the distraction posed by humour benefits persuasion by preventing negative brand associations. Previous marketing research, which mainly viewed humour as a cue in peripheral processing, was rather pessimistic about the persuasive impact of humour. In contrast, this research programme suggests that a repeated pairing of a brand with humour affects the brand’s underlying associative structure, which may lead to stable attitude changes that guide overt spontaneous brand choice. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
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Humor in Advertising: An Associative Processing Model
Madelijn Strick, Rob W. Holland, Rick B. van Baaren, Ad van Knippenberg, and Ap
Radboud University Nijmegen
Madelijn Strick, Rob W. Holland, Rick B. van Baaren, Ad van Knippenberg
and Ap Dijksterhuis, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen,
Montessorilaan 3, P.O. Box 9104, 6500 HE Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Madelijn Strick is now at Department of Psychology, Utrecht University, The
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Madelijn
Strick, Department of Psychology, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80.140, 3508 TC
Utrecht. Phone: +31 30 253 46 15; Fax: +31 30 253 47 18; E-mail:
This article reviews a research program on the effects of humor in advertising on
positive and negative brand associations and brand choice, and integrates the findings
into a single, overarching model. Based on the Associative and Propositional
Processes Model of Evaluation (Gawronski & Bodenhausen, 2006, 2007, 2011), we
propose that repeated pairings of a novel brand with brand-unrelated humor forms
positive brand associations, which mediate spontaneous brand choice. This associative
process was found to be independent from the level of distraction posed by humor and
from awareness of the stimulus pairings. In fact, the distraction posed by humor
benefits persuasion by preventing negative brand associations. Previous marketing
research, which mainly viewed humor as a cue in peripheral processing, was rather
pessimistic about the persuasive impact of humor. In contrast, this research program
suggests that a repeated pairing of a brand with humor affects the brand’s underlying
associative structure, which may lead to stable attitude changes that guide overt
spontaneous brand choice. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Humor in Advertising: An Associative Processing Model
Persuasion is among the central issues of social behavior, and persuasion attempts can
be found almost everywhere. Just walking down the street or surfing the Internet we
are already exposed to countless advertising messages. When we read a newspaper or
turn on the TV, we see political candidates trying to sway people to vote for them.
Even at home, our friends and spouses try to lure us into doing things like join their
birthday parties, babysit their children, or take out the trash. The literature on
persuasion has addressed a multitude of persuasion variables. Some variables
influence deliberative persuasion processes such as the impact of argument quality,
biased information processing, and cognitive dissonance, whereas others influence
intuitive persuasion processes such as the impact of source credibility, source
attractiveness, and the sheer number of arguments. Somewhat surprisingly, it has left
out systematic research on one very prevalent message element: the use of humor. It is
estimated that between 30 and 42% of ads are intended to be humorous (Markiewicz,
1974; Weinberger, Spotts, Campbell, & Parsons, 1995). In the present article, we aim
to address this gap in the social psychological literature by reviewing a research
program on the effects of humor in advertising and by introducing an associative
model of humorous advertising.
Prior Research on Humor in Advertising
Although social psychologists have not paid much research attention to the
topic, humor is one of the most frequently used and studied message strategies in the
advertising and marketing literature. This research has revealed several interesting and
sometimes paradoxical effects of humor on various marketing outcomes. There is
broad agreement among advertising researchers and practitioners that humor enhances
the amount of attention paid to ads (e.g., Madden & Weinberger, 1982). Several
experiments demonstrated that humor directly increases positive attitudes towards ads
and brands (Chung & Zhao, 2003; Chattopadhyay & Basu, 1990; Cline & Kellaris,
1999; Gelb & Zinkhan, 1986; Lee & Mason, 1999). Humor can also enhance
persuasion indirectly by positively biasing ad elaboration (e.g., Allen & Madden,
1985), or by increasing motivation to process ads (e.g., Zhang & Zinkhan, 2006).
Other researchers have noted that humor may disrupt critical processing of advertising
claims (Cline & Kellaris, 1999), and may reduce negative responses to advertisements
like counterarguing (Nabi, Moyer-Guse, Byrne, 2007) or reports of reactance
(Skalski, Tamborini, Glazer, & Smith, 2009, for reviews see Eisend, 2009, 2011).
On the downside, there is also evidence that humor can harm the memory for
products and brand claims (e.g., Gelb & Zinkhan, 1986; Krishnan & Chakravarti,
2003), which suggests that humor distracts attention from products. Even more
importantly, marketing studies generally found that humor has little or no effect on
behavioral persuasion variables such as behavioral compliance, purchase intentions,
or brand choice (Chattopadhyay & Basu, 1990; Scott, Klein, & Bryant, 1990; Zhang
& Zinkhan, 2006). In fact, a comprehensive review about the effect of humor in
advertising concluded “the current conclusion from the overall literature concurs with
the view that humor does not offer significant advantages over non-humor when
persuasion is the goal” (Weinberger & Gulas, 1992, pp. 56-57).
This pessimistic view about the persuasive impact of humor among marketing
researchers could be explained by the fact their research was mainly guided by the
Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM, Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). Humor was assumed
to affect consumer behavior only through the peripheral route to persuasion.
Persuasion through the peripheral route occurs when the consumer is unable or
unwilling to engage in much message-relevant thought, and instead uses simple
mental shortcuts to process a persuasive message (e.g., the sheer number of arguments
presented or the attractiveness of the source). Peripheral processing only generates
weak and short-lived attitude changes that are hardly persuasive on a behavioral level
(Petty & Cacioppo, 1986).
Our Research Approach
In the present article we deviate from the ELM approach, and instead propose
an associative processing model of humor in advertising. We start by the notion that
humor is a source of positive affect, and humorous ad campaigns usually present
viewers with multiple brand-humor pairings. We propose that this repeated humor-
brand pairing forms positive brand associations that guide spontaneous brand choice.
In contrast to peripheral processing, associative processing is thought to always
influence brand attitudes; when consumers process the ad only superficially, but also
when they process it more thoroughly (although this is a domain of debate). Brand
associations formed on the basis of multiple pairings with affective stimuli are robust
(Sweldens, Osselaer, & Janiszewski, 2010) and are considered fundamental for
persuasion (Greenwald & Leavitt, 1984; Osselaer & Janiszewski, 2001). Compared to
the general conclusions of marketing research, our model proposes that humorous ad
campaigns can promote overt brand choice, which may help to explain why so many
advertisers choose to use humor in their ads. Importantly, our model also speaks to the
particular psychological mechanisms involved in the processing of humorous ads.
Although marketing research has made important progress in identifying the kinds of
messages, market segments, and consumer types in which humor can impact
persuasion, it spoke less to the particular psychological mechanisms involved.
Besides using a different theoretical approach, we also used a different
experimental approach than most previous marketing studies. We chose to employ a
less obtrusive, and in some respects more ecologically valid way to investigate the
effect of humorous advertising. In the majority of marketing studies participants were
presented with a single humorous or non-humorous ad, and afterwards reported their
thoughts about the ad and brand, and/or rated their attitudes and purchase decisions on
explicit Likert-type rating scales (e.g., Chattopadhyay & Basu, 1990; Cline &
Kellaris, 1999; Lammers, Leibowitz, Seymour, & Hennessey, 1983; Lee & Mason,
1999; Zhang & Zinkhan, 2006). An important limitation was that the research relied
exclusively on self-report measures to assess attitudes and purchase intentions.
Moreover, the research participants were usually aware of the experimenter’s goal to
investigate advertisements. It is unlikely that the explicit way in which research
participants were consulted about their opinions about ads in marketing studies
resembles the way consumers deal with ads in the real world. In real advertising
situations consumers are frequently exposed to multiple humorous ads promoting the
same brand, and this happens mostly involuntarily and without being asked for an
opinion afterwards.
We also took into account the fact that automatic processes may govern the
impact of ads on brand choice. The average consumer is exposed to thousands of ads
per day (Jhally, 1998). This abundance of advertising information exceeds the
attentional resources of most consumers, which means that a lot of product
information passes by unnoticed and will not be deliberately evaluated at all (see
Heath, 2001). Although consumers are usually inattentive of what is said about brands
in ads, they certainly form impressions of them. They unintentionally pick up brand
information throughout the day, from tasting, using or wearing a particular product to
seeing its particular packaging or logo in the shop or in a marketing campaign. When
making a spontaneous purchase decision (e.g., in the supermarket), consumers often
rely on this automatically retrieved brand information (see Bargh, 2002; Dijksterhuis,
Smith, Van Baaren, & Wigboldus, 2005).
Furthermore, we took into account that real advertising situations potentially
evoke resistance and ad avoidance. Ads typically force themselves upon consumers,
sometimes in unwanted places (e.g., in e-mail and SMS text messages), and/or at
inconvenient times (e.g., interrupting a popular TV show). More generally, every ad is
an overt attempt to change the opinion and behavior of its perceiver, which
automatically triggers resistance (Sherman, Crawford, & McConnell, 2004; for a
review, see Knowles & Linn, 2004). Thus, compared to experimental participants on
whom previous research conclusions were based, actual consumers may experience
more resistance when confronted with commercial advertising, and may react with
more avoidance or irritation.
To simulate a situation of general low involvement and information overload,
we presented brands in an information-rich environment including other brands,
various humorous and non-humorous stimuli and lots of filler material. Care was
taken to disguise the hypotheses under investigation, the particular brands and ad
variables we were interested in, and the particular pairings between brands and
humorous stimuli. We also minimized the obtrusiveness of the dependent
measurements by using implicit measures of memory and attitudes, and behavioral
observations. In several experiments we examined the impact of resistance by
experimentally manipulating resistance, measuring individual differences in
resistance, or employing field settings in which we encountered natural resistance.
Before presenting the model it is useful to define the term humor as it is used
here. The present work subscribes to an incongruity-resolution theory of humor,
which defines humor as a cognitive-linguistic problem-solving task that elicits
positive affect (Goel & Dolan, 2001; Raskin, 1985; Suls, 1972). A typical joke
contains a setup that causes perceivers to make a prediction about the likely outcome.
The punch line violates this expectation, and perceivers will look for a cognitive rule
that will make the punch line follow from the setup. When this cognitive rule is found,
the incongruity is resolved and the joke is perceived as funny. Thus, the processing of
humor comprises two characteristic stages: (1) resolution of a schema-incongruity in
order to “get the joke” (cognitive stage), and (2) experience of positive affect
(affective stage). Content analyses show that indeed about 69 to 82% of humorous ads
throughout the world are based on incongruity-resolution (Alden, Hoyer, & Lee,
1993; Spotts, Weinberger, & Parsons, 1997).
It is important to note that our experiments and model only concern low
involvement consumer decisions, which can be defined as spontaneous choices
between brands or products that consumers make without much deliberation of the
choice alternatives (e.g., choosing between two brands of ballpoints or soft drinks).
Indeed, the consumer market segments that most frequently employ humor in
advertisements (ads) are non-durable, low involvement products such as snack foods,
soft drinks, and beer (Madden & Weinberger, 1984; Weinberger & Campbell, 1991).
As mundane as these spontaneous consumer decisions may seem, the sales of low
involvement consumer goods amount to billions of dollars. The soft drink market is
worth $64 billion in the United States alone (Oakland Tribune, 2004). Moreover,
these kinds of small decisions that consumers make in daily life have a significant
impact on medical, social, and economic outcomes on both individual consumers and
society as a whole (Verplanken & Wood, 2006). Thus, we think it is important to
examine how advertising influences low involvement consumer decisions.
We also wish to point out that our theory and experiments are only relevant to
advertising in which the humor is unrelated to the brand. We chose to study only
brand-unrelated humor because it is more common in advertising than brand-related
humor. According to content analyses of Spotts and colleagues (1997), 71% of humor
in ads worldwide is brand-unrelated. Thus, although we cannot draw conclusions
about the effects of brand-related humor, we can still generalize our findings to most
humorous ads. Although our research does not pertain to deliberate consumer
decisions (e.g., deciding on houses, political voting) or to brand-related humor, we do
speculate on the effect of humor in these domains in the discussion.
Finally, we chose to study only novel instead of mature brands because this
gives a clear picture of the effects of humor on brand perceptions and brand choice
per se, without having to incorporate possible confounding factors like prior
knowledge and experience with the brand. Thus, our findings can only be generalized
to novel, non-mature brands, as previous research has indicated that humor affects
novel and mature brands in qualitatively different ways (Chattopadhyay & Basu,
1990; see also Gibson, 2008).
Foundations of the Model
Our model derives in essential ways from three theoretical approaches. From
the research on schema-incongruity (e.g., Heckler & Childers, 1992; Houston,
Childers, & Heckler, 1987) we derived our hypotheses regarding the effects of humor
on attention and memory processes. Research on schema-incongruity distinguishes
two types of incongruity in ads: unexpectedness and irrelevance. Unexpectedness
refers to advertising information that is somehow incongruent with prior expectations
or schemas. Consider, for example, a TV ad for a British food manufacturer showing
an Englishman ordering a shepherd's pie in a restaurant. After taking the order, the
waiter suddenly jumps on the table and starts singing “O sole mio”. Research shows
that unexpected information (i.e., the waiter jumping on the table and starting to sing)
receives enhanced attention and elaborative processing. Similarly, our model predicts
that the inherent schema-incongruity in humor is likely to attract attention and
enhance recall of the humorous parts of the ad.
Irrelevance, on the other hand, concerns the extent to which a piece of
information pertains directly to, and helps the identification of, the theme or message
of a commercial. Research shows that irrelevant information receives little attentional
processing and, if encoded, is poorly linked within the associative network. Because
the waiter singing “O sole mio” is irrelevant for shepherd's pie (it would be more
relevant, however, if the guest ordered lasagna), this product will be poorly processed.
Similarly, our model predicts that humor does not support the processing of
advertising information that is irrelevant to the humor, such as a relatively
meaningless brand name (see also Krishnan & Chakravarti, 2003). In fact, given that
humor requires solving incongruities and therefore poses cognitive demands, it is
likely that humor withdraws cognitive resources from the processing of humor-
unrelated brand names. Thus, we hypothesized that the solving of incongruities within
humorous ads impairs memory for humor-unrelated brands.
A second theoretical approach we relied heavily on is the Associative and
Propositional Processes Model of Evaluation (APE-model) of Gawronski and
Bodenhausen (2006, 2007, 2011). We used this model to derive our hypotheses
regarding the effects of humor on implicit attitudes and explicit attitudes. This model
differentiates two qualitatively distinct mental processes related to attitude change,
namely associative or propositional processes. Associative processes are defined as
mental processes based on the activation of mental associations in memory, which are
formed by feature similarity and contiguity between stimuli in space and time. In
contrast, propositional processes are defined as the validation of the information that
is implied by the activated associations, which is guided by the principles of logical
The most important difference between associative and propositional
processes is their (in)dependency of subjective truth. Whereas associations can be
activated in memory regardless of whether the person considers the information
implied by these associations accurate or inaccurate, propositional processes are
inherently concerned with a subjective assessment of the validity of activated
information. For example, the propositional implication of a positive automatic
reaction to a brand on a supermarket shelf (e.g., “I like Brand X cookies”) may be
rejected when it is inconsistent with other propositions that are currently considered
(e.g., “Brand X cookies are very heavily advertised” and “I shouldn’t buy cookies just
because they are advertised a lot”).
The behavioral outcomes of propositional processes are typically measured
with self-report scales (also termed explicit attitude measures), while the behavioral
outcomes of associative processes are typically measured with response latency
measures (also termed implicit attitude measures). Implicit attitude measures are
better measures of the outcome of associative processes because they tap directly into
the evaluations that are automatically activated upon exposure of the attitude object.
One particularly thorny issue is the use of the term implicit attitude. Recently,
researchers have noted that although the measure is implicit, the attitude is not, since
there is no evidence that the individual is unaware of the attitude (Fazio & Olson,
2003; Gawronski, LeBel, & Peters, 2007). We completely agree with this position.
However, we use the term implicit attitude in this article because it is common in the
Explicit and implicit attitudes may be similar or dissociated, depending on
whether the propositional implications of the automatically activated implicit attitude
is accepted or rejected as a valid basis for evaluative judgment (e.g., Gawronski &
Strack, 2004; Nosek, 2005; Olson & Fazio, 2006). We hypothesized that repeated
pairing of a brand with brand-unrelated humor leads to a pattern of explicit and
implicit attitude change that the APE-model denotes as Case 1 (Gawronksi &
Bodenhausen, 2006). Case 1 involves a direct influence on implicit brand attitudes
through repeated pairing with humor, that is, evaluative conditioning (EC; for a
review, see De Houwer, Thomas, & Baeyens, 2001). These implicit attitudes, in turn,
provide the basis for explicit brand attitudes. Case 1 implies corresponding changes in
implicit and explicit attitudes, with changes in explicit attitudes being fully mediated
by changes in implicit attitudes. According to the APE model, Case 1 should emerge
when humor leads to a change in associative structure of the brand’s attitude1.
Additionally, the Case 1 pattern only emerges when the consumer accepts the
implication of the newly formed brand associations as a valid basis for the evaluative
judgment, and hence, does not reject it on the basis of conflicting propositions that
call into question the truth-value of the associative evaluation. The APE model argues
that contingency awareness, that is, awareness of the pairings of a particular brand
with positive or negative stimuli, may provide such conflicting information that
reduces trust in the validity of the associative evaluation, leading to a pattern of
explicit and implicit attitude change that the APE-model denotes as Case 2. As in the
example above, consumers who are contingency aware may discard their liking for
brand X because they attribute it to advertising rather than to the true merits of a
It should be noted that following the recent debate on the role of contingency
awareness in EC, the APE model acknowledges that not all EC effects are associative
in nature and may sometimes require contingency awareness (see Gawronski &
Bodenhausen, 2011, and the discussion of this article). The exact impact of attention
and contingency awareness on EC effects is still under debate (e.g., Pleyers, Corneille,
Luminet, & Yzerbyt, 2007; Bar-Anan, De Houwer, & Nosek, 2010; Stahl, Unkelbach,
& Corneille, 2009). In line with the APE model, we consider EC as an effect that can
be both driven by associative or propositional processes. As mentioned before,
however, we hypothesized that within the confinement of our experiments (i.e.,
repeated exposure of a novel low involvement brand in the context of unrelated humor
while disguising the particular pairings between brands and humorous stimuli), the
impact of humor on brand attitudes follows an associative process described as Case 1
in the APE-model. This pattern would be indicated if 1) humor affects brand attitudes
without contingency awareness; 2) There is correspondence between implicit and
explicit attitude change; and 3) Effects of humor on explicit attitudes and behavioral
choice are fully mediated by implicit attitude change.
A third theoretical approach that strongly influenced our thinking on the
associative processes involved in humorous advertising is the Evaluative Space Model
of attitudes (Cacioppo, Gardner, & Berntson, 1997; Norris, Gollan, Berntson, &
Cacioppo, 2010). A central assumption of this model is that attitude positivity and
negativity are independent and can (and should) be separated. For a long time,
attitudes have been conceptualized as unidimensional constructs, which implied that
when an attitude becomes more positive, it will also become less negative
(comparable to the bipolar scale of a thermometer: when it gets warmer, it gets less
cold). However, one of the central tenets of the Evaluative Space Model of attitudes is
that attitude positivity and negativity are separate and often uncorrelated attitude
dimensions. This proposition is in line with approach-avoidance models of behavior
that generally assume that the behavioral response toward an object depends on the
relative strength and salience of both the positive and negative responses towards the
object (Dollard & Miller, 1950; Gray, 1987; Knowles & Linn, 2004). Hence, to foster
a behavioral change to buy a brand, an ad should ideally form positive brand
associations, and simultaneously prevent the formation of negative brand associations.
As we will explain below, we hypothesized that the repeated pairing of a brand with
humor causes exactly these two processes.
An Associative Processing Model of Humorous Advertising
From the aforementioned theories we derived several expectations about the
effect of pairing a novel brand with brand-unrelated humor that formed the basis for
our model of associative processes in humorous advertising. The model is
summarized in Figure 1. The general idea of the model is as follows. Incongruity
research demonstrates that advertising information that is incongruent with prior
expectations or schemas enhances attention and elaborative processing of ads (e.g.,
Heckler & Childers, 1992; Houston et al., 1987). Therefore, the model predicts that
humorous ads attract more attention than non-humorous ads. However, the enhanced
attention is mostly devoted to the schema-incongruity in humor and distracts from the
processing of humor-unrelated information such as brand names. In fact, the model
proposes that the solving of incongruities within humor impairs the explicit memory
for brands that are presented in humorous ads.
(Figure 1 about here)
Besides affecting brand attention and memory, humor will also affect brand
evaluations. Given the positivity of humor, we predict that a repeated association with
humor will form new, positive brand associations (Gawronski & Bodenhausen, 2006).
These positive brand associations should become apparent in different ways. They
should be manifested in implicit measures of the brand attitude. If the person currently
does not consider propositions that conflict with the positive brand association (e.g.,
awareness of the pairing with humor), it will also become apparent in positive explicit
brand attitudes and behavioral choice. Furthermore, the model posits that the
distracting property of humor benefits the persuasion process by preventing negative
brand associations, for example due to high resistance. The more humor distracts, the
better it works to prevent the formation of negative brand associations.
In summary, the model proposes that the persuasive effect of humor follows a
two-step process: a cognitive step and an affective step. The process by which humor
prevents negative brand associations is a cognitive process, as it is based on an
account of limited cognitive resources: humor distracts, and thereby draws on limited
cognitive resources that are required to form negative brand associations. The process
by which humor creates positive brand associations is an affective process, as it is
based on the property of humor to elicit positive affect. These effects of humor on
positive and negative brand associations jointly stimulate spontaneous brand choice.
In the following section we will provide empirical evidence to support the theoretical
Empirical Evidence for the Model
Explicit Versus Implicit Brand Memory
Previous studies have found consistent evidence that humor increases the
attention paid to an ad (e.g., Madden & Weinberger, 1982; Stewart & Furse, 1986; see
also Gulas & Weinberger, 2006; Weinberger & Gulas, 1992). However, the evidence
concerning the effects of humor on attention for products is far from clear. Some
researchers found that humor impairs memory for brands (e.g., Cantor & Venus,
1980; Lammers et al., 1983; Gelb & Zinkhan, 1986). Others, in contrast, found
positive influences of humor on memory (e.g., Krishnan & Chakravarti, 2003;
Madden & Weinberger, 1982; Stewart & Furse, 1986). These inconsistent findings
may be due to the fact that humorous ads as a whole receive more attention than non-
humorous ads. When total attention paid to the ad is experimentally controlled, for
example when exposure time is fixed (as was the case in most marketing studies)
humor distracts attention from brands. However, when total attention paid to ads is
freely decided upon by the consumer, as is the case in most real advertising situations,
humorous ads tend to receive more attention overall, which compensates for the
distraction effect.
These ideas were confirmed by one of our studies (Hansen, Strick, Van
Baaren, Hooghuis, & Wigboldus, 2009, Study 1). We presented participants with a
questionnaire that contained pictures of characteristic scenes of humorous and non-
humorous (control) ads that were frequently broadcasted on TV at the time. The
pictures showed characteristic scenes, that is, identifiable moments of the TV ads. We
suspected that participants had seen these ads on TV at home, and may recall some of
them. We had no control over the total attention that participants had paid to these ads
at home. Based on incongruity research we expected enhanced recall of humorous ads
compared to control ads (i.e., recall of the humorous storyline or ‘gist’ of the ad, see
Schmidt, 1994, 2002). However, the spillover effect from humorous ads to brand
recall was expected to be small because most of the enhanced attention is focused on
the humor, which goes at the expense of attention for brand names. In contrast, we
expected lower ad recall for control ads because they attract less attention overall, but
a bigger spillover effect from ad recall to brand recall. In summary, we expected ad
recall to be higher for humorous than control ads, but controlling for ad recall2 we
expected brand recall to be higher for control ads than humorous ads.
In our study, participants were asked for each picture whether they recalled the
ad, and if yes, to provide a short description of the storyline. Ad recall was calculated
as the percentage of ads for which participants correctly described the storyline. After,
participants were asked to recall what product they thought was promoted in the ad.
Product recall was calculated as the percentage of ads for which participants could
correctly recall the product.
The results showed that ad recall was indeed on average higher for the
humorous ads (67%) than the control ads (53%), confirming that humorous ads
receive more overall attention. However, absolute product recall did not differ
between humorous and control ads (52% and 49%, respectively). Note that these
results imply that controlling for ad recall brand recall is higher for control than
humorous ads. That is, if a participant recalled a particular control ad her chances of
recalling also the product were 92%, but if she recalled a particular humorous ad her
chances of recalling also the product were reduced to 77% (see Figure 2). These
results are in line with our hypothesis that humor increases attention to ads as a whole,
but within ads distracts attention from products.
(Figure 2 about here)
More conclusive evidence of the distractive property of humor was found in an
experiment that used an online measure of selective attention, namely eye tracking
(Strick, Holland, Van Baaren, & Van Knippenberg, 2010a, Experiment 1). In the eye
tracker, all participants viewed pictures of four novel energy drink brands that were
paired with (i.e., consistently presented next to) humorous or control texts. A first
brand was consistently presented next to 15 different humorous texts (e.g., “The
spider was turned down for the position as web designer”), a second brand was
consistently presented next to 15 different positive but non-humorous texts (e.g.,
“Isabelle received the gold medal with tears in her eyes.”), a third brand was
consistently presented next to 15 different neutral texts (e.g., “Lisa takes the bus every
day to get to work and back.”), and a fourth brand was presented next to 15 neutral
filler texts. Figure 3 gives an illustration of the stimulus presentation of a brand-
humor pairing. Brand-text pairs were presented for 6,000 ms each. In this experiment,
and in all other experiments reviewed in this article, the assignment of brands to the
humorous and the various control conditions was counterbalanced between
participants to avoid confounding among variables. After viewing all stimuli,
participants completed an unexpected brand recognition task. Participants viewed a
one-by-one presentation of 24 brands (i.e., the four experimental brands and 20 novel
brands), and were asked to indicate for each brand as fast and accurately as possible
whether they had seen it before.
(Figure 3 about here)
The results are summarized in Table 1. Analysis of the eye tracking data
indicated that, compared to both the positive and neutral texts, the humorous texts on
average received longer visual attention. The results of the brand recognition task
indicated that enhanced attention for humorous texts came at the expense of attention
for the paired brands: the average percentage of correctly recognizing “humor brands”
was lower than the average percentage of correctly recognizing the “positive brands”
and “neutral brands”. The average viewing time of humorous texts was negatively
correlated with recognition of the humor brand. Visual attention and brand memory in
the positive and neutral conditions did not significantly differ from each other, which
indicates that distraction is unique to humor and is not found in non-humorous
positive stimuli (see also Strick, Holland, Van Baaren, & Van Knippenberg, 2010b).
(Table 1 about here)
In summary, our studies show that humor distracts from brands, impairing
brand recall and brand recognition. Most marketing researchers and advertising
practitioners would assume that poor brand memory is detrimental to advertising.
After all (they would argue), how can an ad influence brand choice if people forget
about the brand? We agree that some form of brand memory is needed for advertising
to promote later brand choice. However, this brand memory does not necessarily have
to be explicit and conscious. In recent years, advertising research has seen a growing
interest in implicit brand memory, which refers to is a type of memory in which
previous experience with the brand aid in the performance of a task without conscious
awareness of this previous experience (Jacoby, 1991; Schacter, 1987; Shapiro &
Krishnan, 2001). As an example, assume that one week after being exposed to an ad
of the beauty brand “Lady”, a person cannot consciously remember seeing the ad or
the brand. Nonetheless, she is more likely to complete the word stem LA_ _ with
LADY than with LAND or LACE than a person who has not been exposed to the
Lady ad.
There is empirical evidence that tests of explicit and implicit memory show
different effects of the same experimental manipulations. For example, divided
attention or longer delays between information exposure and memory assessment
reduce explicit memory more than implicit memory (Richardson-Klavehn, & Bjork,
1988; Schacter, 1987; Shapiro & Krishnan, 2001). Interestingly, research also
indicates that only implicit, not explicit brand memory predicts positive brand
evaluations (Hansen & Wänke, 2009) and brand choice (Shapiro & Krishnan, 2001).
Could it be that humor impairs only explicit but not implicit brand memory?
We examined this question in another experiment (Hansen et al., 2009,
Experiment 3). We measured implicit and explicit recognition of brand names one
week after exposing participants to 12 humorous and 12 non-humorous print ads. We
separated implicit and explicit memory of previously presented brand names by using
an adaptation of Jacoby’s process dissociation procedure (for a detailed description of
the process dissociation procedure see Jacoby, 1991, 1998). The memory data
revealed a significant interaction between type of ad (humorous/non-humorous) and
type of memory process. As expected, explicit brand recognition was lower for brands
that had been presented in humorous ads than in non-humorous ads, but implicit
recognition of brands was similar for both types of ads. These results imply that
although humor distracts and therefore leads to lower explicit brand memory, it leaves
implicit brand memory intact. Both humorous and non-humorous ads enhance implicit
brand memory to the same extent.
This finding is important because for humor to increase positive brand
associations that promote brand choice (which our model assumes) some trace of the
brand needs to be stored in memory. Previous research indicated that positive attitude
change and brand choice require implicit brand memory rather than explicit brand
memory (Hansen & Wänke, 2009; Shapiro & Krishnan, 2001). It thus becomes
possible that even though humor reduces explicit brand memory, it may increase
positive brand attitudes and choice. The finding is also important because it may shed
new light on the relation between of distraction and evaluation. Marketing researchers
have long been aware of the distracting effect of humor and other creative copy on
cognitive processing of brand-related information (termed the “vampire effect” by
practitioners, see Evans, 1988). However, less is known about how distraction relates
to attitude change and choice. Many marketing studies investigated either the effect of
humor on cognitive variables (i.e., attention, brand memory) or its effect on
evaluative variables (i.e., brand attitudes, choice, e.g., Eisend, 2009, 2011;
Weinberger & Gulas, 1992). It was assumed, at least implicitly, that explicit brand
memory and attitude change go hand-in-hand, and hence, distraction harms
persuasion. In contrast, the finding that humor does not harm implicit brand memory
suggests that it may lead to positive attitude change despite the distraction.
In the next section we will address the effect of humor on attitude change and
choice, and we will discuss how the distracting property of humor interacts with
evaluative processes.
Positive Attitude Change in the Absence of Brand Awareness
Despite the ongoing debate about the important role of attentional resources
(Pleyers, Corneille, Yzerbyt, & Luminet, 2009) and contingency awareness (e.g.,
Pleyers et al., 2007; Bar-Anan et al., 2010) in EC, there is considerable empirical
support for the notion that EC is sometimes not hampered by distraction (Field &
Moore, 2005; Walther, 2002), and can ensue in the absence of conscious awareness of
the pairing of the stimuli (Aarts, Custers & Holland, 2007; Custers & Aarts, 2005;
Fulcher & Hammerl, 2001). Thus, there is reason to assume that despite the
distraction, humor could elicit positive associative processes. To study the effect of
humor on associative processes we arranged a situation in which products were
repeatedly paired with humor, yet in which participants were not intentionally
evaluating ads and products (Strick, Van Baaren, Holland, & Van Knippenberg, 2009,
Experiment 1). Participants were asked to view a series of full-screen frames
displaying two adjacent pages of an opened magazine on a computer monitor. An
illustration of the stimulus presentation in the magazine is presented in Figure 4. Each
magazine frame displaying two adjacent pages was presented for 10 seconds.
Participants experienced this stimulus presentation as though they were “leafing
through a magazine”. To evoke the situation of paying attention to humor instead of
brands, we asked participants to focus their attention on pictures in the magazine that
were surrounded by a yellow frame, which in fact were always humorous cartoons or
non-humorous cartoons (i.e., cartoons with humorous elements removed). Depending
on a counterbalance condition, a picture of a novel (but truly existing) energy drink
brand (Enorm or Shark) was consistently shown on the same page as a humorous
cartoon, whereas a picture of another novel energy drink brand (Shark or Enorm) was
consistently shown on the same page as a non-humorous cartoon. This pairing
occurred on 10 different pages per brand. Thus, throughout the magazine one brand
was 10 times paired humor using 10 different humorous cartoons, and the other brand
was paired 10 times with 10 different non-humorous cartoons. After this learning
phase we measured participants’ attitudes of the presented brands using an implicit
attitude measure. A third, novel energy drink brand (Warp) served as a baseline brand.
(Figure 4 about here)
We expected the unobtrusive pairing with humor to increase brand attitudes.
More specifically, based on the notion of independence of attitude positivity and
negativity (Cacioppo et al., 1997; Norris et al., 2010) we expected that pairing a brand
with humor would lead to enhanced association of this brand with positive affect, not
necessarily to reduced association with negative affect. Assuming that positivity and
negativity are independent and separable attitude dimensions, pairing a novel brand
(i.e., a brand that lacks pre-existing associations) with a purely positive stimulus (i.e.,
humor) should only create new positive brand associations, but should not affect
negative brand associations.
Implicit brand attitudes were measured using an evaluative priming task
(Fazio, 2001; Fazio, Sanbonmatsu, Powel, & Kardes, 1986), a widely used implicit
attitude measure (Gawronski & Bodenhausen, 2006; Hermans, Vansteenwegen,
Crombez, Baeyens, & Eelen, 2002). In this task, participants are asked to indicate as
quickly and accurately as possible whether a target word (e.g., lovely, mistake) is
positive or negative by pressing a left “negative” or right “positive” key. Before each
target word appears on the computer screen, a prime is presented (in this case, one of
the two experimental brands, the baseline brand, or a filler picture). The task is based
on the fact that the primed brands automatically activate an evaluation (Fazio et al.,
1986; Fazio, 1995), and in turn facilitate responses to target words that are
evaluatively congruent, and inhibit responses to target words that are evaluatively
incongruent. For example, if the automatic evaluation of a primed brand is positive,
responses on subsequent positive targets will be faster.
We disentangled positive and negative brand associations by means of
separately analyzing the response latencies to positive and negative target words of
the evaluative priming task. Usually, in an evaluative priming task, the difference
score between response latencies to positive and negative targets after priming with an
attitude object is used to assess the evaluation of an the attitude object. Separating
priming effects on positive and negative target words is a more recent procedure in
the field of the evaluative priming procedure (see Robinson & Kirkeby, 2005;
Robinson, Ode, Moeller, & Goetz, 2007). However, given our predictions about the
independent effect of humor on positive and negative associative processes, it made
theoretical sense to separate them.
As expected, the response latencies of the evaluative priming task indicated
that priming with the humor brand, compared to priming with the control brand or the
baseline brand, speeded up responses to positive target words, indicating positive
brand associations (see Figure 5). In contrast, compared to priming with the control or
baseline brand, priming with the humor brand did not slow down responses to
negative targets, indicating that humor did not reduce negative brand associations. In
two follow-up experiments using the same experimental paradigm we consistently
found that associating a brand with humor only increases positive brand associations
but does not decrease negative brand associations (Strick et al., 2009, Experiment 2
and 3). These results supported the hypothesis that repeated exposure of a brand in the
context of unrelated humor, while disguising the particular pairings, elicits an EC
effect. More specifically, it leads to more positive, not less negative, brand
(Figure 5 about here)
The results of this experiment also show that the relative difference between
humor and control brands is due to the humorous cartoons being evaluated positively
rather than the non-humorous cartoons (i.e., cartoons with humor removed) being
evaluated negatively, as the control brands were evaluated similarly to a neutral
baseline. Moreover, while priming the humor brand speeded up responses to positive
targets, priming the control brand did not speed up responses to negative targets.
The specific effect of humor on positive brand associations while leaving
negative brand associations unaffected also confirmed our hypothesis that attitude
positivity and attitude negativity are independent and may respond differently to
experimental manipulations. Note that the lack of effect of humor on negative brand
associations is assumed to be limited to no-resistance situations such as this one, as
participants were not aware of being influenced. When resistance is high we
hypothesize that humor does affect negative brand associations (see next paragraph).
The results of this experiment provided initial evidence that humor can affect
brand attitudes through associative processing, but more evidence is needed to show
that unobtrusive pairing with humor corresponds with attitude change according to
Case 1 of Gawronski & Bodenhausen’s APE-model. This pattern is indicated when
the pairing with humor has a direct effect on implicit brand attitudes, when explicit
attitude change and behavioral consequences correspond with the implicit attitude
change, and are fully mediated by implicit attitude change. According to the APE-
model, this pattern is more likely to emerge if humor affects implicit brand attitudes
without contingency awareness. Two follow-up experiments were designed to
investigate these issues. Moreover, these experiments tested whether the positive
attitude change happens even when humor distracts attention. This would be indicated
when the humor brand is evaluated more positively than the control brand even if
explicit memory of the humor brand is poorer than that of the control brand.
A follow-up experiment used the same magazine procedure to pair products
with humorous or non-humorous cartoons. This time, however, a picture of a ballpoint
(or scissors) was paired with humor, while a picture of scissors (or a ballpoint) was
paired with non-humor (control condition). After leafing through the magazine and
performing a subsequent filler task, participants completed a surprise recognition task.
A series of 10 pictures was presented twice, in random order, including the two
pictures of the experimental products. To obscure which pictures were of interest,
three pictures that had also been repeatedly shown in the magazine served as fillers.
Five new (unseen) pictures completed the set of stimuli. Either before or after the
recognition task participants performed the evaluative priming task, using pictures of
the ballpoint, the scissors, and filler pictures as primes.
In line with our predictions, the recognition task showed that explicit
recognition of the humor product was on average poorer (69%) than explicit
recognition of the control product (85%). Analyses of the response latencies of the
trials in which the product was correctly identified indicated that the humor product
was also recognized slower than the control product. In line with the previous
experiment the response latencies of the evaluative priming task indicated that
priming with the humor product speeded up responses to positive target words
compared to priming with the control product, indicating positive attitude change.
Again, priming with the humor product did not slow down responses to negative
target words.
These results suggest that pairing a brand with humor, despite the distraction,
created positive brand attitudes. However, even though the humor product was
recognized less often than the control product, it was still recognized in more than half
of the trials. Therefore, it is possible that positive attitudes were only induced in
participants who were not distracted by humor. To rule out this possibility, we broke
down the analysis of the evaluative priming data for participants who did and did not
recognize the humor product. This analysis showed that the evaluative priming effect
did not depend on product recognition: a significant positive attitude change was
observed even for participants who did not (explicitly) recognize the humor product.
Although the level of contingency awareness was not directly measured in this study,
these data offer quite convincing support that implicit attitude change was established
without contingency awareness. After all, how can a person be aware of a pairing
between a product and particular stimuli without being aware of having seen the
product at all?
A final question of this experiment concerned the correspondence of implicit
and explicit attitude change. In the final part op the experiment participants were
asked to indicate their preference for one or the other product. The pictures of the
scissors and ballpoint were presented on the computer screen, and below them a
bipolar 7-point scale was presented with the question “Which of these products would
you rather take home?” with scale anchors 1 (definitely the scissors), 4 (equally
gladly), and 7 (definitely the ballpoint). Irrespective of which product was paired with
humor, participants had a higher relative preference for the humor product. Hence,
explicit attitude change corresponded with implicit attitude change. Furthermore, a
mediation analysis revealed that explicit product preference was fully mediated by
positive product associations (see Figure 6). These findings are fully in line with the
idea that pairing with humor changes associative processing on which reflective
judgments, such as this preference measure, are partly based.
(Figure 6 about here)
Another experiment in this line of research (Strick et al., 2009, Experiment 3)
replicated the effects of humor pairing on distraction and implicit attitude chance
using the same pairing procedure, recognition task, and evaluative priming task, this
time using again novel but truly existing energy drink brands: Enorm and Energy
Slammers. Depending on counterbalance conditions either Enorm or Energy
Slammers was paired with humor (and the other brand paired with non-humor) in the
magazine. We replaced the explicit attitude measure by a measure of overt choice
behavior. After leafing through the magazine, and completing the recognition task and
evaluative priming task in private lab cubicles, participants were led to believe that
the experiment aimed to investigate the influence of energy drink consumption on
reaction times. They were escorted to a different room where a stack of Enorm and
Energy Slammers cans (in equal numbers) was presented. The experimenter asked the
participants to take three sips of energy drink, allegedly to measure its effect on
reaction times on a following task. The brand chosen to sip from represented our
measure of brand choice. After sipping from the energy drink, the participants were
escorted back to their private cubicles to complete another reaction time task to lend
credibility to the coverstory.
As expected, participants were significantly more likely to choose the energy
drink brand that was unobtrusively paired with humor than the control brand (see
Figure 7). Similar to the findings on explicit attitudes, overt brand choice was in line
with, and fully mediated by, positive brand associations. Once more, negative brand
associations were not affected by the humor pairings and did not predict brand choice.
(Figure 7 about here)
The results of the last three experiments are fully in line with the hypothesis
that repeated parings of a novel low involvement brand with unrelated humorous
stimuli affects product attitudes through Case 1 associative processing (Gawronski &
Bodenhausen, 2006). Pairing a product with humor directly affected implicit attitude
change. Explicit attitude change and behavioral choice corresponded with, and were
fully mediated by, implicit attitude change. The attitude change among participants
that lacked brand awareness indicated that the implicit attitude change did not depend
on contingency awareness.
Furthermore, the results supported the assumption that attitude positivity and
attitude negativity are separate by showing that humor affected positive brand
associations without affecting negative brand associations. These results contradict
the classic idea that attitude positivity and negativity are endpoints of the same bipolar
scale (Cacioppo et al., 1997; Norris et al., 2010). One could ask why is it relevant to
disentangle the measurement of attitude positivity and negativity. Although there are
several advantages (on which we elaborate in the discussion), one of them became
clear to us in the experiments just reviewed: by disentangling these attitude
dimensions we uncovered a psychological mechanisms that otherwise would have
remained hidden. That is, only changes in positive, not negative brand associations
mediated brand choice. Without separating positive and negative brand associations,
we would not have found the hypothesized mediation effect of implicit attitude
change on explicit attitude change and behavioral choice.
The experiments reviewed so far improved our understanding of the role of
humor in the development of positive brand associations. However, they have not
addressed the impact of humor on negative brand associations. We proposed that
resistance is an important source of negative brand associations, and we hypothesized
that the negative emotion elicited by resistance forms negative brand associations
(Gawronski & Bodenhausen, 2006; De Houwer, et al., 2001). Although we found that
distraction does not interfere with the formation of positive brand associations, we
hypothesized that it does interfere with the formation of negative brand associations.
We will explain these hypotheses below.
Distraction Prevents Negative Attitude Change
The scientific study of advertising has focused mainly on the ways to make
products and issues more desirable (e.g., Perloff, 2003). Only recently, persuasion
researchers have become interested in persuading consumers by reducing their ability
or motivation to resist attitude change (for a review, see Knowles & Linn, 2004).
Resistance is a form of self-regulation that needs focused attention and therefore
depends on processing motivation and ability (e.g., Wheeler, Briñol, & Hermann,
2007; Wood, Rhodes, & Biek, 1995). There is ample empirical evidence showing that
resistance to persuasion is undermined by distraction (e.g., Festinger & Maccoby,
1964; Haaland & Venkatesan, 1968; Petty & Brock, 1981). If humor distracts, and
distraction is a good strategy to counter resistance, then humor should be a good
strategy to reduce resistance.
Some previous studies indeed indicated that humor counters negative
responses to persuasive messages. Cline and Kellaris (1999) showed that humor in ads
is especially effective when ads feature weak rather than strong arguments, suggesting
that humor can interrupt the critical processing of arguments. Nabi and colleagues
(2007) showed that humor can distract from counterarguing a monologue delivered by
a political comedian. In research by Skalski et al. (2009) perceivers reported less
psychological reactance to a public service announcement when it was presented with
humor. Finally, two meta-analyses on humor and persuasion found that humor
decreases the level of negative affect and negative cognitions related to ads (Eisend,
2009, 2011).
Although these previous studies showed that humor reduces negative
responses while consumers are processing persuasive messages, none of them
examined whether humor can prevent the formation of negative brand associations.
As we were interested in modelling the effect of humor on associative processing
according to the APE-model, and wanted to test our predictions regarding the role of
distraction in the formation of negative brand associations, we set out to test how
distraction and humor affect positive and negative brand associations.
We did this in Strick, Holland, Van Baaren, and Van Knippenberg (2012,
Experiment 2). To manipulate distraction and positive affect separately, we used
humorous, positive, and neutral (control) texts as in Strick et al. (2010b), but added a
fourth type of text: brainteasers (i.e., riddles or simple math problems such as “If 6
apples weight 900 grams, 8 apples weigh… 1200 grams”). According to pilot testing
these texts fitted a 2 x 2 taxonomy of distraction and positive affect, with humorous
texts being distracting/positive, positive texts being non-distracting/positive,
brainteasers being distracting/neutral, and control texts being non-distracting/neutral.
This stimulus set allowed us to separately test the role of distraction and positive
affect on brand associations. The brand stimuli were pictures of 12 novel peppermint
brands taken from Strick, Holland, and Van Knippenberg (2008).
Half of the participants were exposed to a resistance manipulation that
combined several sources of resistance. They received a description of the study,
which explained that the experiment was conducted in collaboration with a big food
manufacturer. This manufacturer was introduced as a money-grubber, who often
turned to illegitimate means such as clandestine advertising to make money
(distrusted source, Knowles & Linn, 2004), and who thinks that students are easy
targets to manipulate (susceptibility, Sagarin, Cialdini, Rice, & Serna, 2002). The
experiment allegedly tested the latter assumption (forewarning, Wood & Quinn,
2003). Participants in the control condition received an equally long description that
explained that the experiment tested the effect of stimulus colors and design on ease
of processing.
After the resistance or control manipulation, 3 brands were paired with five
different humorous (i.e., distracting/positive) texts, 3 other brands were paired with
five non-distracting/positive texts, 3 other brands were paired with five brainteasers
(i.e., distracting/neutral texts), and the last 3 brands were paired with five non-
distracting/neutral texts, for a total of 60 pairing trials. We paired the stimuli by
presenting them next to each other in the centre of the computer screen. After the
learning phase, we measured distraction with the surprise recognition task and brand
associations with the evaluative priming task, similar to Strick et al. (2009).
This time we also included a contingency awareness test after the evaluative
priming task. The task was designed after the four-picture recognition test procedure
by Walther and Nagengast (2006). Participants were presented one-by-one with the
peppermint brands in their original size on the left side of the screen with four texts on
the right. The instruction beforehand asked participants to select the text that had been
paired with the brand. One of these texts was the correct text, a second text was of the
same valence as the correct text but differed on distraction, a third text was of a
different valence as the correct text but the same on distraction, and the fourth text
was of a different valence and also differed on distraction. The contingency awareness
test included 60 trials.
Our expectations for the positive brand associations were similar to Strick et
al. (2009). Pairing a brand with humor should create positive brand associations but
should leave negative brand associations unaffected. This effect on positive brand
associations was expected to be similar for brands paired with humor (i.e,
distracting/positive) and non-distracting/positive texts as they are equally positive and
this effect was found to be independent of distraction in our previous studies.
Moreover, we assumed that positive brand associations would be equally formed in
the resistance and control condition. Assuming that resistance is a source of purely
negative affect that is unrelated to positive affect, we expected resistance to impact
negative brand associations only, but to leave the forming of positive brand
associations unaffected.
Our expectations for the negative brand associations were different. We
expected our induction of resistance to create negative brand associations. However,
these negative brand associations were expected only in the non-distracting conditions
(non-distracting/positive and non-distracting/neutral conditions). As distraction
reduces resistance, we expected less negative brand associations in the humorous (i.e,
distracting/positive) and brainteasers (i.e., distracting/neutral) conditions. Moreover,
we expected the reduction in negative brand associations to be mediated by
distraction, which would be indicated by lower brand recognition.
The recognition data replicated previous findings and showed no differences
between the resistance and control conditions: in both conditions, pairing brands with
distracting texts (both humor and brainteasers) impaired brand recognition. In line
with our predictions, the evaluative priming data showed that resistant and control
participants also reacted similarly to the pairing of brands with positive texts (both
humor and non-distracting/positive texts): it led to enhanced positive brand
In contrast, and as expected, resistant and control participants reacted
differently to the pairing of brands with distracting versus non-distracting texts (see
Figure 8). Compared to the control participants, resistant participants showed
increased negativity towards brands associated with non-distracting texts (both non-
distracting/positive as non-distracting/neutral texts), indicating that resistance led to
negative brand associations when no distraction was provided. Crucially, these
differences between the resistance and control condition were not observed for brands
associated with distracting texts (both humorous texts and brainteasers), suggesting
that distraction prevented the formation of negative brand associations. Additional
analyses supported the hypothesis that distraction mediated the relation between
resistance and the prevention of negative brand associations: the more the humorous
texts and brainteasers distracted from brands (indicated by a lower brand recognition
score), the better they prevented negative brand associations.
(Figure 8 about here)
The contingency awareness test showed that on average participants assigned
28% brands to the correct text, which was marginally better than chance. Crucially,
individual differences in contingency awareness did not correlate significantly with
the formation of positive or negative brand associations. Stahl et al. (2009) recently
found that EC effects correlated with awareness of the valence of the paired stimuli
rather than to awareness of the specific stimuli. We also calculated the extent to which
participants were valence aware, that is, to what extent they were aware that brands
were paired with positive (humorous or positive non-humorous) texts or neutral
(brainteasers or neutral) texts. Valence awareness was on average 52%; not different
from chance level. Individual differences in valence awareness did not correlate with
the strength of positive or negative brand associations.
The results of this experiment confirm various aspects of our associative
processing model of humorous advertising. First, replicating the previous
experiments, association of a brand with humor led to the formation of positive brand
associations. Second, association of a brand with humor prevented the formation of
negative brand associations otherwise formed by resistance. Third, the level of
distraction during attitude formation mediated the relation between humor and the
prevention of negative brand associations. The results also provided more conclusive
support for the hypothesis that humor affects brand attitudes without contingency
In a follow-up study (Strick et al., 2012, Experiment 3) we found a similar
pattern of results when we measured, instead of manipulated, participants’ resistance
level, and included this as a continuous factor to the analyses. This provides an
important extension to the previous experiment because research demonstrates clear
individual differences in the tendency to react with resistance to influence (Briñol,
Rucker, Tormala, & Petty, 2004). Another aim of this experiment was to investigate
whether the preventive effect of distraction on brand negativity would generalize to
overt brand preference. Although we found evaluative priming results in the previous
experiment, it is important to show that these basic cognitive processes also affect
overt consumer behavior (Baumeister, Vohs, & Funder, 2007).
All participants received an instruction that was less offensive than the
resistance manipulation of the previous experiment. It simply informed participants
that the experiment aimed to change the participants’ opinions about products through
conditioning, just like in advertisements. Because this instruction included only a
single resistance manipulation (forewarning of being influenced, Wood & Quinn,
2003) we expected considerable resistance in some participants, but less in others.
After the instruction, participants entered the pairing phase. Distraction and
positive affect were this time manipulated using pictorial stimuli instead of texts (for
representative examples of the stimuli see Figure 9). We used 15 humorous (i.e.,
distracting/positive) pictures, 15 non-distracting/positive pictures (taken from the
International Affective Picture System [IAPS, Lang, Bradley, Cuthbert, 2001] 15
distracting/neutral pictures (i.e., neutral IAPS pictures with brainteasers), and 15 non-
distracting/neutral pictures. Examples of the pictures can be seen in Figure 9. The
brand stimuli were pictures of 4 novel energy drink brands. Each brand was paired
with all pictures of a single category, resulting in 60 pairing trials.
(Figure 9 about here)
After the pairing phase and a subsequent 3-min filler task, overt brand
preference was measured using a coupon choice task (Bushman, 2005; Strahan,
Spencer, & Zanna, 2002). Participants were asked to imagine that the producer of the
energy drink brands offered them a total of eight discount coupons each worth 50
eurocents. They could spend the coupons on the four brands, and they were asked to
indicate how many coupons they would like to spend on each brand.
Next, participants indicated their level of resistance by answering the questions
“During the first part of this experiment, to what extent did you feel resistant to be
influenced?” on a seven-point scale, ranging from 1 (not at all) to 7 (very much). This
indicated considerable variance in resistance, M = 3.39 (SD = 1.58). Finally,
contingency awareness was measured using an adapted version the four-picture
recognition test. This time, participants were informed that the brands had been
systematically paired with one of four categories of pictures (humorous pictures; non-
humorous positive pictures; brainteasers; neutral pictures) and were asked to assign
each brand to the correct category.
The results of the coupon choice task indicated, as expected, that the
participants overall spent more coupons on brands paired with positive pictures. This
effect was uncorrelated with the level of resistance. Furthermore, as expected, the
level of self-reported resistance did correlate with a higher preference for brands
paired with distracting pictures (i.e., humor and brainteasers) relative to brands
associated with non-distracting pictures (i.e., non-humorous positive and neutral
pictures). This result is in line with the hypothesis that distraction prevents negative
brand associations. Most importantly, we found evidence that these stimulus pairings
affect overt brand preference in a similar way as they affect brand associations.
In the contingency awareness test participants assigned 19% of the brands to
the correct pictures, which did not differ from chance level. Contingency awareness
did not correlate with the level of reported resistance, nor with the EC effect,
providing additional evidence that humor affected brand preference without
contingency awareness.
These results suggest that adding some distraction in real persuasion
situations, which we propose usually involve some level of resistance, may enhance
the effectiveness of ads. In a set of field experiments (Strick, Veling, Van Baaren, &
Holland, 2012, Experiment 3), we tested the effects of distraction and positive affect
in a field setting. We set up a one-week flyer campaign aimed at recruiting
participants for our psychology lab, and used humorous cartoons and brainteasers as
distracters. To manipulate distraction and positive affect, we created four alternative
versions of flyers using the 2 x 2 taxonomy of distraction and positive affect. The
humorous (i.e., distracting/positive) version featured a humorous cartoon. The three
control conditions were constructed by replacing the caption of the cartoon by a non-
distracting/positive caption, a distracting/neutral caption (i.e., a brainteaser), or a non-
distracting/neutral caption. Also mentioned on the flyers in capital letters was a
request to bring the flyer to the lab when the person decided to participate. This
request was needed to count the number of participants recruited by each type of flyer.
Each day of the week a new set of flyers was used that featured different cartoons and
control versions.
The effectiveness of each flyer was determined by calculating the percentage
of participants that were recruited through each type of flyer. During the week of the
flyer campaign, we asked each and every participant who entered the lab if she was
recruited on the basis of a flyer. If the answer was yes, she was asked to hand over the
particular flyer. If she forgot to bring it, she was shown examples of the four types of
flyers that were used on that particular day, and was asked to indicate which flyer she
had had.
As expected, the flyers with a humorous (i.e., positive/distracting) cartoon
attracted the most participants to the lab: 13% of the participants during the campaign
week was recruited through a humorous flyer. After followed the distracting/neutral
(8%) condition, the non-distracting/positive (6%) condition, and finally the non-
distracting/neutral (6%) condition. Statistical analyses indicated that both distraction
and positive affect contributed to the success rate of the flyers. These results
corroborate the idea that both distraction and positive affect in humor can boost ad
effectivenss in real advertising situations. Distraction decreases attitude negativity,
and positive affect increases attitude positivity.
The aim of the present article was to present a model that explains the effects
of repeated exposures to humorous advertising on positive and negative brand
associations and brand choice. We reviewed a research program of multiple lab and
field experiments that support the various premises of the model. In short, the
predictions of our model on associative processes in humorous advertising can be
summarized as a two-step process: First, the inherent incongruity in humor draws
attention to ads as a whole, but within the ad attention is selectively drawn to humor,
which comes at the expense of attention for the advertised brand, leading to impaired
explicit brand memory. This impairment of explicit brand memory does not
necessarily harm persuasion, because a) humor does not impair implicit brand
memory, which is a better predictor of persuasion than explicit brand memory; and b)
distraction prevents the formation of negative brand associations otherwise formed by
potential resistance. Second, the positive emotion engendered by humor increases
positive brand associations. Both the strength of the positive and negative brand
associations, in turn, guide subsequent spontaneous brand choice. Thus, humor
promotes brand choice because it forestalls the development of negative brand
associations due to its distractive properties, and engenders positive brand
associations due to its positive emotional outcomes.
Merits of the Model to Research on Humor in Advertising
Marketing research typically considers humor a peripheral cue in advertising,
which implies that its effects on brand attitudes are only weak and short-lived.
Instead, we tested the hypothesis that humor can function as a positive stimulus in an
associative process. We showed that repeated pairing of a brand with humor leads to a
direct implicit attitude change, which likely denotes a change in the underlying
associative structure of the brand attitude. This implies that humor may have a more
long-term effect on brand attitudes than previously assumed. Changes in the
associative structure of attitudes are generally more stable than attitude changes
without changes in associative structure (Gawronski & Bodenhausen, 2006). Indeed,
some researchers concluded that EC effects are resistant to extinction (De Houwer et
al., 2001) and show spectacular stability over time (Baeyens, Crombez, Van den
Bergh, & Eelen, 1988; Levey & Martin, 1975). Note, however, that we cannot draw
strong conclusions about the long-term effect, as we have not tested it in our
The stability of the attitude change is not only important to determine its long-
term effects, but also to determine its possible effects on behavioral choice. After all,
ads can only affect brand choices if the attitude change lasts until the consumer
actually steps into a store. It was our prediction that repeated pairings of a brand with
humor forms brand associations that guide behavioral choice. Indeed, our experiments
showed that the pairing with humor stimulated behavioral choice in various situations.
Marketing research generally concluded that brand-unrelated humor is not persuasive
on a behavioral level. Hence, a principal contribution of our research is in
demonstrating that the persuasive impact of humor was previously underestimated.
The contrast between conclusions drawn in marketing research and in our own
work can also be explained by using a more disguised experimental approach. One
difference was that the purpose of the research to investigate advertising was usually
quite obvious in marketing studies. Under such circumstances research participants
are likely to pay more-than-usual attention to the ads and discount the impact of
irrelevant affective cues such as humor as irrelevant to their judgments. This was less
likely in our studies because we often disguised the true purpose of the study.
Furthermore, marketing research on humor in advertising relied exclusively on self-
report measures to assess attitudes and purchase intentions. Explicit and implicit
attitudes may be dissociated (e.g., Gawronski & Strack, 2004; Nosek, 2005; Olson &
Fazio, 2006). This suggests that solely relying on explicit attitude changes may lead to
premature and sometimes erroneous conclusions.
Limitations of our Research
We have mentioned that our model is only relevant to advertising novel, low
involvement products and brand-unrelated humor. A fourth limitation of our model is
that we always paired the brands with different humorous stimuli instead of repeating
the same humor. This limits the relevance of our model for humorous ads campaigns
that repeat the same humorous ad over and over again. Because our model proposes
that the distracting effect of humor is based on incongruity-resolution, it is likely that
the distraction declines with repeated exposures to the same joke. Moreover, with
repeated exposures the funniness of the joke likely wears off and no longer produces
positive attitude changes (see Gelb & Zinkhan, 1985; Zinkhan & Gelb, 1990). This
implies that a frequent change of creative copy within a humorous ad campaign is
preferred to repeating of the same ad over and over again. Note that the former is
preferred over the latter also for other reasons. Research shows that associating a
brand with different stimuli that evoke a similar affective response leads to a direct
brand-affect association whereas associating a brand repeatedly with the same
affective stimulus leads to an indirect brand-affect association via the brand-stimulus
association (Sweldens et al., 2010). Direct brand-affect associations are more robust
than indirect brand-affect associations because they are resilient to factors that weaken
the brand-stimulus association (e.g., memory decay, changes in stimulus evaluation).
Our research mirrored previous research by showing that the pairing of a brand
with unrelated humor led to generally poorer brand memory. It is likely that this effect
on explicit memory is moderated by the brand-relatedness of humor. Indeed,
marketing studies imply that humor’s attention-gaining property can facilitate recall
of the brand when the humor is linked to the brand. For example, Krishnan and
Chakravarti (2003) demonstrated that humor that is relevant to the brand claims
positively influences memory for brand claims. In contrast, when humor was
unrelated to the brand it was more likely to impair brand recall. In the latter case, all
people generally recalled was the funny storyline of the ad.
Suggestions for Future Research
Brand-related humor likely supports brand recall better than brand-unrelated
humor. Future research, however, should investigate whether brand-related humor is
also more persuasive than brand-unrelated humor. We regard this conclusion not self-
evident. The assumption among marketing researchers and practitioners that brand
recall predicts persuasion is longstanding and pervasive, but recent research and
theorizing suggests they are actually uncorrelated (Heath & Feldwick, 2008; Heath &
Nairn, 2005; Till & Baack, 2005). What differs between related and unrelated humor,
however, is that related humor provides information that can be rationally linked to
the advertised brand, and therefore may serve as a rational argument in propositional
reasoning (Gawronksi & Bodenhausen, 2006). This implies that a pairing with related
humor could evoke a direct explicit attitude change depending on a subjective
assessment of the strength of the humor as an issue-relevant argument. If the humor
(in combination with other considered propositional information) is accepted as a
valid reason to like the brand, this should lead to a direct (positive) explicit attitude
change. However, if the humor is rejected as a valid reason to like the brand, a direct
explicit attitude change fails.
It is important to note that the possible direct effect of related humor on
explicit brand attitudes does not necessarily change the associative process we
assumed in our model. According to the APE-model, associative and propositional
processes take place concurrently and may have similar or dissociated outcomes,
depending on the circumstances. The positive associative process described in our
model does not depend on the outcome of the propositional process, but on the
presence or absence of positive affective stimulus that provides a basis for the EC
effect. Thus, as long as the humor itself evokes positive affect it provides a basis for
presumed associative process.
Another question that should be answered in future research is whether
humorous ads could affect deliberate consumer choices through the proposed
associative process. Deliberate choices are characterized by explicit thoughts about
the true merits of a brand rather than the reliance on automatic evaluations, which
reduces the change that implicit attitudes directly guide behavior (Fazio & Towles-
Schwen, 1999). However, there is reason to believe that forming positive brand
associations may affect deliberate decisions indirectly. As explained before, the APE-
model proposes that explicit attitude changes may follow from implicit attitude
changes when a person accepts the propositional implication of the implicit attitude.
Research on persuasion has shown that positive primary responses to stimuli can bias
the direction of critical thought (Chaiken & Maheswaran, 1994). Furthermore,
consumers sometimes consider their affective reactions to brands as a valid argument
in the decision process (Darke, Chattopadhyay, Ashworth, 2006). Indeed, recent
research shows that affective responses to brands quite pervasively affect decisions,
even if consumers are highly motivated to make accurate decisions, and even when
conflicting factual brand information is presented (Dempsey & Mitchell, 2010).
Along these lines, sprinkling an issue-irrelevant joke here and there may
increase a person’s or a brand’s appeal. Political campaigns, for example, may benefit
from this as politicians displaying a good sense of humor are liked more and are
considered more competent (Martin, 2007), and positive personality estimates have a
significant impact on election outcomes (e.g., Caprara & Zimbardo, 2004; Todorov,
Mandisodza, Goren, & Hall, 2005). It seems reasonable to assume, however, that
issue-relevant humor has a greater impact on political voting than issue-irrelevant
humor. A number of scientific studies have concluded that relevant humor in speeches
of political officials can serve as a powerful rhetorical tool (e.g., Meyer, 1990; Speier,
1998; Stewart, 2011). Moreover, research shows that – especially in the U.S. –
relevant humor has a profound influence on the perceptions of politics through
politically flavored late night comedy shows (Kloer & Jubera, 2000; Young, 2008).
For example, the widespread cynical joke about President Nixon “Would you buy a
used car from this man?”, which is said to have greatly hurt his 1960 election
campaign (Janus, 1981), was so powerful because it made an actual point (i.e., that
Nixon was untrustworthy).
Concluding Remarks
Although this article deals with the effects of humor in advertising, we would
like to encourage the study of associative processes in other domains of consumer
research as well. In the past decade the study of consumer behavior has witnessed
increasing attention to the possibility that various automatic and implicit processes
drive consumption behavior. Yet, the empirical work on advertising is still dominated
by explicit approaches, in which participants are intentionally evaluating the
persuasiveness of ads. This experimental approach is not representative for the way in
which consumers process ads and brands in daily life. In many cases, the impact of
ads is not based on effortful reasoning. Furthermore, people are often unable to
introspect how advertising influences their attitudes and behavior.
Although consumers invest minimal attention to ads, and are generally
somewhat sceptical about them, they may still be influenced. Advertising often
influences consumers “underneath the radar” by consistently placing their brands in
the context of pleasant, happy, exciting, or indeed humorous experiences. These
associative processes may influence people without them being aware of it.
Considering that much of the associative process in advertising goes by unnoticed,
marketing researchers should combine explicit research methods with implicit
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1According to the APE model, Case 1 could also emerge when humor leads to
a change of pattern activation of pre-existing brand associations, but this explanation
is precluded by our use of novel brands that, by definition, lack pre-existing brand
2 We reasoned that ad recall was a necessary condition for product recall.
Indeed, it was never that case that participants could recall the product without
recalling the ad.
Table 1
Average Viewing Times of Texts and Percentages of Brand Recognition as a Function
of Text Type in Strick et al. (2010a) Experiment 1
Text Type
Viewing Time in ms
Brand Recognition in %
4345a (555)
83c (38)
4284 a (502)
88c (33)
4933b (588)
64d (48)
Note. SD in parentheses. Means that do not share subscripts differ within columns at p
< .05.
Figure 1. Schematic representation of the effect of humor in ads on brand associations
and choice.
Figure 2. Percentage of recalled ads and products in Hansen et al. (2009, Study 1).
Figure 3. Illustration of a brand-humor pairing presented in the eye tracker in Strick et
al. (2010a, Experiment 1).
Figure 4. Illustration of the pairing of a brand with humor and non-humor in the
“magazine paradigm” used in Strick et al. (2009, Experiments 1-3).
Figure 5. Mean reaction times in evaluative priming task to positive and negative
target words after priming with the humor brand, control brand, or baseline brand in
Strick et al. (2009, Experiment 1). Error bars represent standard errors of the means.
Figure 6. Path analyses illustrating the mediating role of positive product associations
on the relation between humor pairing and product choice (Strick et al., 2009,
Experiment 2). The parenthetic numbers represent the relation between humor pairing
and product choice before controlling for positive product associations. * p < .05
Figure 7. Number of times the Enorm and Energy Slammers brands were chosen in
the Enorm-humor and Energy Slammers-humor conditions (Strick et al., 2009,
Experiment 3).
Figure 8. Mean reaction times in evaluative priming task to negative target words
after priming with brands associated with distracting or non-distracting texts in the
resistance and control condition (Strick et al., 2012, Experiment 2). Error bars
represent standard errors of the means.
Figure 9. Examples of the stimuli used to manipulate distraction and positive affect in
Strick et al., 2012 (Experiment 3).
... Other researchers have shown that humor has several other functions, including obtaining social support (Moran & Hughes, 2006). This, in turn, reduces the effects of stress (Moran & Hughes, 2006;Plester, 2009), and it may also enhance the indirect process of persuasion (Strick, et al., 2013). Grice (1975) states that to structure a successful communication using language, our communication should have certain qualities. ...
... that humor is used in N2O for advertising purposes. This is in accordance with Strick, et al. (2013), who argued that humor could be used to advertise products. ...
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This study examines verbal humor in the Jordanian stand-up comedy show N2O. It identifies and analyzes how conversational maxims are flouted to create humor. To achieve this aim, 60 seven-minute episodes were taken from the channel of the show. The study showed that comedians flouted the maxims of quantity, quality, relevance and manner to create humor, aiming to make the audience look for implicature. It was also found that the maxims of quantity and quality were the most flouted. The comedians flouted the maxim of quantity by being regularly either less or more informative than required. They also flouted the maxim of quality by telling obvious lies and exaggeration. The study also revealed that the Jordanian comedians in N2O create the audience's laughter by using satire, pun, exaggeration and mocking to flout Grice maxims of conversation while addressing different social practices or phenomena, such as the high increase in prices, addiction to the internet and Jordanians' ignorance of some social issues.
... Because consumers who are occupied with humor in the message are less attentive to other message elements, our findings propose a negative distraction effect of humor in two-sided advertising. While a distraction effect has been considered advantageous and persuasive in prior research (Strick et al., 2013), we argue that the salience of negative information in two-sided messages remains and can even become stronger when consumers are distracted from processing other, typically positive advertisement information. This negativity effect (Küster & Eisend, 2015) leads to a disadvantageous persuasive effect. ...
... If consumers are highly involved, marketers who apply two-sided advertising should not use humor unless they can ensure that it fits the product and can provide an additional supporting argument for the product and brand. While humor research indicates more favorable effects of humor when it is related to the product or message, unrelated humor can also be persuasive (e.g., Strick et al., 2013), which differs from the findings related to twosided advertising. Because the humor-product fit is endogenous, it can be managed by the advertiser to improve the effects of twosided advertising. ...
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Research on advertising containing negative information, such as two-sided messages, has neglected the potential of including humor in the advertisements, although both theory and practical examples suggest that humor might help to sell negative information. This paper presents the results from three studies that showed that humor can increase the persuasive influence of two-sided advertising due to a positive surprise effect. However, it can also reduce this effect for high-involvement consumers due to a negative distraction effect. Because two-sided advertising is particularly effective in targeting high-involvement consumers, this study established humor–product fit as a boundary condition to help mitigate the negative effects on high-involvement consumers who are exposed to two-sided advertising messages. When the fit between product and humor is high, the persuasiveness of two-sided advertising for high-involvement consumers increases. The study's findings have implications for theory and for the practice of including negative information in advertising. Humor can be applied in two-sided advertising if consumers are highly involved and the humor is appropriate to the product.
... Humor's cumulative impact can transform audience attitudes and social norms positively: witness the growing numbers of stand-ups who successfully celebrate their personal disabilities (Lockyer 2015) and the impact of so-called ethnic comedians (for a US example, see Avila-Saavedra 2011). Research on humor used in advertising also demonstrates a positive impact on brand attitude, given various provisos and qualifications (Gulas and Weinberger 2006;Strick et al. 2013). In its satiric and critical mode, humor has been used effectively if not always fairly as rhetorical persuasion in both politics and legal courts since the time of the Romans (for a modern survey on humor in American law courts, see Hobbs 2007). ...
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This article presents a schema describing the ‘humor transaction,’ that is, the processes by which what is generally called humor is created, communicated, experienced, responded to and used. It describes in three stages the rich creative process shared between a humorist and an audience. This starts with the perception and/or formation of an amusing stimulus by a humorist and passes in a second stage to its communication by the humorist to others and their processing of the stimulus. The third stage captures the range of experiences and responses by the recipient/s, including personal consequences and possible re-use of the humor (which creates further functions and consequences). Although experiencing and using humor are both holistic processes, dependent on synchronization of social behaviors by humorist and recipient, the schema simplifies in order to summarize the general outline of a typical shared humorous ‘transaction’ while allowing for complex detail within each stage. It offers a framework within which scholars and practitioners can locate their different foci of research and application. It aims to assist in developing a shared vocabulary of concepts and terminology to foster exchange across the many disciplines involved in humor research. It provides a linked glossary of relevant terms designed to facilitate interdisciplinary exchange in studying humor.
... For example, positive-bias in messaging, drawing on principles of Prospect Theory (Tversky and Kahneman 1985), is already shown to be effective in promoting prevention behaviours (Rothman et al. 1999). The use of humour in persuasive brand campaigns has also been shown to trigger positive attitudes and actions (Strick et al. 2013). However, the messages evaluated in hand hygiene studies tend to be serious in tone. ...
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This paper reports on the results of a series of co-design workshops devised to generate new messaging ideas for a novel hand sanitizer unit that features a video screen and feedback system. Students of different nationalities, ages and genders were involved in the process either to prime design sessions, or devise/evaluate new ideas for the screen to display in a university setting. The project aimed not only to produce animated designs for subsequent testing but also to elicit key preferences for hand hygiene message tone, content and visual appearance. Research findings revealed a clear preference in the student community for positive, caring and playful approaches to hand hygiene messaging in contrast to many messaging approaches featured in previous studies. In terms of visual approach, students expressed a preference for colourful illustrations rather than photographs or word-based messages. The paper highlights some particularly rich ideas developed to exploit the novelty of the device, such as specific animated sequences or immediate visual rewards of internet memes as ways to engage the student audience. Co-design proved valuable in devising new insights for the hygiene communication community.
... Evidence suggests that the element of humour in advertisements can also harm the memory of brand claims and products because humour definitely grabs consumers' attention but, on the other hand, it also distracts consumer's focus from products and the main message of an ad. This means that it is not necessary that humorous advertisements would lead to more sales of the product or service (Madelijn Strick, 2009).Companies should be very careful while establishing brand image in consumers' mind via TVCs because TVCs have a very high impact on purchasing behaviour. When it comes to the telecom sector, marketers should first focus on delivering the information to users clearly because consumers only switch their mobile connection if the package or call tariffs suit their needs. ...
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The purpose of the current study was to examine the impact of humorous advertisement on purchase decision. To the test the hypotheses, Ufone ads were analyzed and compared to other mobile network ads, which are being aired in Pakistans telecom industry. The data were collected from mobile users via survey method. The data were collected from January 2017 to January 2018. The sample size was 127. Data were analyzed using correlation and regression analysis. The findings suggested that humorous advertisement is one of the appeals which breaks the clutter. 90% of the respondents said that humorous advertisement greatly affects the purchase decision. Hence, Ufones ads are effective. Recommendation for future research would be to study humor in detail; that is dividing the humorous appeal in categories like dark humor, slice of life humor and studying their respective impact on customers purchase decision.
Humour is known to help relational outcomes. In business, business sectors (product-based vs service-based) and humour styles (constructive vs offensive) play a defining role. This study aims to identify how humour impacts the selling of food products. This study is based on studies about humour effects in business, management, marketing, and psychology. Food advertisements are analysed in an attempt to identify the ways in which humour determines consumers to buy one food product or another. Constructive humour has positive effects on business performance and work relationship quality no matter the business sector. The only limitation of the research concerns the cultural context (only Romanian advertisements are analysed). This study allows strategic insights into how to use humour in an advertising context. To the best of the author’s knowledge, no previous Romanian study has until now examined the impact of humour on the selling of food products due to advertisements.
Research on humour and prejudice has predominantly focused on the use of negative, or disparaging humour and its prejudice enhancing effects. This study investigated whether a positive ‘affiliative’ humour, could elicit a reduction in prejudice as measured by attitudes, system justification beliefs and engagement in collective action in favour of transgender individuals. Participants (N=85) were randomly assigned to the humour or control condition before and after which data were collected measuring their levels of prejudice and beliefs. In the humour condition participants were exposed to stand-up comedy performed by transgender comedians. Results showed that brief exposure to humour had no significant effect on prejudice and system justification beliefs. However, participants who reported finding the humour funny and those who reported less discomfort were significantly more willing to engage in collective action to support the transgender community compared to those in the control condition.
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This work examines the determinants of the success of influencer marketing on the youth-focused TikTok, the fastest growing social network. It analyses the effects of influencers' account characteristics (originality, quality, quantity and humor) on their followers' hedonic experience and perceived opinion leadership, and how these impact on their intentions to follow influencers’ accounts and advice. A survey of followers of a popular Spanish TikTok influencer showed that originality and opinion leadership play important roles and that, because TikTok is distinctive, humor increased the effectiveness of messages (through hedonic experience). Suggestions are made to advance the understanding of this novel phenomenon.
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Three studies examined the impact of a treatment designed to instill resistance to deceptive persuasive messages. Study 1 demonstrated that after the resistance treatment, ads using illegitimate authority-based appeals became less persuasive, and ads using legitimate appeals became more persuasive. In Study 2, this resistance generalized to novel exemplars, persevered over time, and appeared outside of the laboratory context. In Study 3, a procedure that dispelled participants' illusions of invulnerability to deceptive persuasion maximized resistance to such persuasion. Overall, the present studies demonstrate that attempts to confer resistance to appeals will likely be successful to the extent that they install 2 conceptual features: perceived undue manipulative intent of the source of the appeal and perceived personal vulnerability to such manipulation.
Humor is used extensively in advertising, but with mixed results. Drawing on the heuristic systematic model of persuasion, the authors explore a contingency underlying the impact of humorous executions on ad and brand attitudes for a convenience good. Results of a laboratory experiment with print ads show that the presence (vs. absence) of incidental humor can interact with message characteristics such that humorous ads engender more positive attitudes when they employ weaker arguments, and less positive attitudes when they use stronger arguments. © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Evaluative conditioning refers to changes in the liking of a stimulus that are due to the fact that the stimulus has been paired with other, positive or negative stimuli. Although evaluative conditioning appears to be subjected to certain boundary conditions, significant evaluative conditioning effects have been obtained using a large variety of stimuli and procedures. Some data suggest that evaluative conditioning can occur under conditions that do not support other forms of Pavlovian conditioning, and several models have been proposed to account for these differences. In the present article, the authors summarize the available literature, draw conclusions where possible, and provide suggestions for future research.
The Dynamics of Persuasion has been a staple resource for teaching persuasion for nearly two decades. Author Richard M. Perloff speaks to students in a style that is engaging and informational, explaining key theories and research as well as providing timely and relevant examples. The companion website includes materials for both students and instructors, expanding the pedagogical utilities and facilitating adoptions. The sixth edition includes: • updated theoretical and applied research in a variety of areas, including framing, inoculation, and self-affirmation; • new studies of health campaigns; • expanded coverage of social media marketing; • enhanced discussion of the Elaboration Likelihood Model in light of continued research and new applications to everyday persuasion. The fundamentals of the book - emphasis on theory, clear-cut explanation of findings, in-depth discussion of persuasion processes and effects, and easy-to-follow real-world applications - continue in the sixth edition.
This study examined the moderating effects of product involvement on the effects of humour on memory and attitude towards the advertisement by using multi-year survey (1992 to 1997) of responses to commercials shown during the Super Bowl. Positive and significant relationships between humorous advertisements on memory and attitude were found through multiple regression analysis. Furthermore, results show that humorous advertisements are more effective in low-involvement products in terms of memory and attitude towards the advertisement.