Let's Put a Smile on that Face: A Study on the Embeddedness of Humorous Advertisements
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The phenomenon of embeddedness has implications in the field of advertising, as the context in which ads are shown is one of the salient factors influencing their evaluation. The affect transfer hypothesis and 'mood as information' theory suggest that the context is capable of interfering with an individual's ability to invest affective as well as cognitive resources required to process the advertising stimulus. In this study, an integrated framework was tested for studying advertising embeddedness, focusing on three contextual dimensions: (i) type of program (program induced mood: positive vs. negative), (ii) type of commercial break (abrupt vs. smooth), and (iii) the position in a break (pod position: first vs. last). The effectiveness of an ad is also driven by the choice ad content (appeal). In order to test this framework, humour appeal was selected as it has been shown to be the most pervasive appeal among all genres of advertisements. However, past research exploring the impact of humour on advertising effectiveness has shown mixed results. It is postulated that though different types of humorous appeals are used in advertisements, most studies fail to consider their impact individually. This study uses two different types of humorous appeals: incongruity-resolution and arousal-safety. Incongruity-resolution humour involves a high degree of cognitive uncertainty, whereas arousal safety humour is high on affective uncertainty, and it has been shown that the cognitive/affective resources that are required to process these ads successfully are different. Two experiments were designed to test the impact of three contextual dimensions on two types of humorous advertisements. The results indicated that in a context that induced negative mood (vs. positive mood), both ads performed badly, the negative impact was greater on the incongruity resolution ads. Similarly, the negative impact of an abrupt break (vs. smooth break) was greater on incongruity resolution ads as compared to arousal safety ads. In an abrupt break, both the ads performed well at a later pod position as compared to the first pod position. The results are discussed and have implications for researchers as well as practitioners.
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