FACULTY RESEARCH: Engaging Luxury Brand Consumers

Luxury brands have increased their social engagement by investing heavily in interesting brand value propositions and captive storytelling. Yet, research to understand the mechanisms of luxury content marketing in brand building is still scarce. Drawing on value perceptions, brand prestige/exclusivity, customer intimacy, and brand loyalty, Dr. Xie’s research proposes and tests the perceived values of luxury content marketing on social media (i.e., YouTube) which shapes brand loyalty among luxury consumers. Dr. Quan Xie’s research “Deconstructing Luxury Content Marketing on YouTube: The Roles of Content Values in Brand Prestige, Brand Exclusivity, Customer Intimacy and Brand Loyalty” was recently accepted by the International Communication Association (ICA) Annual Conference to be presented at the Gold Coast, Australia this May. The conference accepted only 44.27% of the papers and panels that were submitted this year!

FACULTY RESEARCH: Can Advertising Encourage Bystander Intervention in Response to Domestic Violence?

Temerlin Advertising Institute faculty are studying ways to encourage bystander action when they encounter victims of domestic violence. According to the CDC, “About 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime.”

According to the research, bystander intervention is one way to help minimize occurrences of domestic violence. However, bystanders tend to be apathetic toward the victims they happen to encounter or observe.

In the research published in the Journal of Advertising, Dr. Carrie La Ferle and Dr. Sidharth Muralidharan examined the role of guilt and shame on attitude toward the ad and reporting intention of bystanders in India. While the effectiveness of negative emotions has been thoroughly researched in the West, conceptualizing guilt and shame from an Eastern perspective and using fluency in processing theory revealed that ads featuring emotional appeals strengthened reporting intention more than control ads did.

Professor Muralidharan explained that this action occurs through self-construals which impact the ways that the different emotions elicited are processed. Self-construal refers to the grounds of self-definition, and the extent to which the self is defined independently of others or interdependently with others and is thought to vary between Westerners and East Asians.

With respect to the findings, Dr. Muralidharan thought that it was interesting that shame was more effective than ads with guilt and the control. However, what was more intriguing was that ads with negative emotions (and lack of) were equally effective among those with an independent self-construal. Basically, such ad appeals were not as important as the duty to help a victim in need. A probable answer lies in research that touches on the characteristics of the independent self-construal (being assertive, autonomous, and possessing a stronger sense of equality), which could explain these gaps in future studies.

According to Dr. La Ferle, “We hope that this research will allow for more impactful public service announcements in India and further prosocial causes by encouraging people to take action in response to perceived needs.” This is one way SMU Advertising research is helping to create better advertising which leads to a better world.

For more information see:

Dr. Carrie La Ferle, Dr. Sid Muralidharan & Dr. Anna Kim “Using Guilt and Shame Appeals from an Eastern Perspective to Promote Bystander Intervention: A Study of Mitigating Domestic Violence in IndiaJournal of Advertising, 2019.

FACULTY RESEARCH: Can Empathy Offset Low Bystander Efficacy? Effectiveness of Domestic Violence Prevention Narratives in India?

Dr. Sid Muralidharan co-authored “Can Empathy Offset LowBystander Efficacy? Effectiveness of Domestic Violence Prevention Narratives in India.” (Journal of Health Communication, 2019)

Abstract:

Domestic violence stems from deeply rooted patriarchal norms and directly conflicts with humanitarian standards. Given that this issue impacts women across the world, many countries have initiated campaigns to heighten awareness and fight this epidemic. Based on Social Cognitive Theory (SCT), we explored whether narrative health messages might prompt bystanders to intervene (e.g., calling a helpline number) when they encounter domestic violence. Using a sample of participants from India, we found that narratives had a stronger impact on attitude toward the ad and reporting intention than non-narratives and such effects were mediated by feelings of empathy. More importantly, the mediating effects of empathy were significantly greater when bystander efficacy was low rather than high.

Click for the full publication: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10410236.2019.1623645

FACULTY RESEARCH: Dr. Sid’s Latest Publication: What Triggers Young Millennials to Purchase Eco-Friendly Products?

Dr. Sid Muralidharan recently co-authored “What triggers young Millennials to purchase eco-friendly products?: the interrelationships among knowledge, perceived consumer effectiveness, and environmental concern.” (Journal of Marketing Communications, Volume 25, 2019, Issue 4)

Abstract:

As the attention to environmental sustainability heightens, marketers increasingly claim that their products help preserve the environment. Without proper understanding of how emerging target markets, such as young Millennials, are triggered to purchase green claims, their efforts may be futile. Accordingly, the current study examined the interrelationships among major environmental antecedents, such as environmental knowledge (EK), perceived consumer effectiveness (PCE), and environmental concern (EC) on environmentally conscious consumer behaviour (ECCB). The results of an online survey with younger Millennials revealed that EK and EC were significant predictors of ECCB, with EC being the stronger predictor. Unlike past literature, PCE was not directly related to ECCB. The study also found a strong mediating role of EC between EK and ECCB, as well as PCE and ECCB. Implications for green marketers are discussed, along with theoretical discussion.

Click for the full publication: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13527266.2017.1303623

FACULTY RESEARCH: Dr. Sidharth Muralidharan and Dr. Anna Kim Author Article on Narrative Advertising in India and the United States

Abstract:
The persuasiveness and popularity of narratives in commercial advertising has gained much attention but its application in inculcating responsible behaviour is severely limited. Domestic violence against women is a global issue and there is a dire need for effective bystander intervention campaigns. This two-part study delves into how narratives could be employed to elicit favourable ad attitudes and encourage bystanders to report instances of domestic abuse in their neighbourhood. Study 1 focused on testing the effectiveness of narratives in two culturally diverse countries – India and the United States. In general, findings showed that narratives (vs. non-narratives) were more persuasive in both countries. As the next step, using culture (interdependence vs. independence) and social distance (parents vs. neighbours), Study 2 found narratives with a socially proximal entity (parents) to be more persuasive in India while no differences between countries were observed for the socially distant entity (neighbours). Theoretical and managerial implications are discussed.

Click here to read the full article on LinkedIn.

VISITING SCHOLAR: TAI Hosts Dr. Cong Li for Lecture on Measuring Ad Attitude

Friday, February 22nd, the Temerlin Advertising Institute hosted a lecture by Visiting Scholar Dr. Cong Li, Associate Professor of Strategic Communication at the University of Miami. Dr. Li discussed his research, “Should Attitude be Measured with “Random” Scale Points?”, with many SMU faculty, students, and professionals attending the event. Through his research, Dr. Li examined how using different scale points to measure ad attitude influences statistical results.

While attitude is an important construct frequently measured in advertising research, there is no consensus on the scale points it should be quantitively assessed.  In practice, researchers have measured attitude using different scale points (i.e., 1-5, 1-7, 1-9, 0-10, and 0-100). Dr. Li’s research questions the influence of such inconsistency on empirical findings.

In his lecture, Dr. Li discussed a series of studies that examine the methodological issues associated with attitude measures. Using varying types of data from content analysis, simulation, a longitudinal study, and an experiment, Dr. Li’s research suggests that using arbitrary scale points to measure attitude may bias statistical results. The influence of scale points is also subject to cultural differences. As low replicability has long been an issue in empirical research, Dr. Li’s work is important in pointing out a methodological concern associated with self-report measures.

Dr. Li’s other research interests include computer-mediated communication, social media, and cultural psychology. His work has appeared in such journals as the Journal of AdvertisingHuman Communication ResearchMedia Psychology, and Communication Research. He has also authored two books focusing on advertising strategy and social media.

Temerlin Advertising Institute was honored to host Dr. Li for a lecture on his research. TAI is passionate about staying informed on all current topics in the advertising industry, hosting guest speakers periodically throughout the year.

Rani Vestal

FACULTY RESEARCH: TAI Assistant Professor Yan Huang Shares Research on Narrative Persuasion and Attitude Resistance

TAI Research Brown Bag by TAI Assistant Professor, Yan Huang.

On Friday, April 13, Yan Huang, Assistant Professor of Advertising in TAI at SMU, shared her research titled “Persuasion and Counter Persuasion: The Impact of Narratives in Health Promotion,” at the TAI Research Brown Bag.

Professor Huang’s research examines the effects and mechanisms of strategic media messages and technologies in shaping consumer psychology, especially as they relate to health and socially responsible advertising. Through her studies, she addresses a series of questions including,

  • Is attitude induced by narratives able to resist the influence of competing messages?
  • What are the psychological mechanisms underlying narratives’ influence on resistance?
  • Can narratives effectively persuade individuals when used for counter persuasion?
  • How do we use storytelling to help the public make better decisions?

Health public service advertising (PSA) is not processed in a vacuum. An effective health PSA must not only produce an immediate persuasive impact but also compete with counter messages from different interest groups. Prior literature supports narrative benefits in eliciting immediate health attitude change. However, its influence in a competitive scenario has yet to be tested.

When individuals are exposed to a campaign message, they think about it, but they don’t typically engage in actions immediately. There is a time lag, in which individuals can encounter other information, which may contradict with what they were previously exposed to – these are competing messages. Professor Yan Huang performed a series of studies in which attitudes were assessed after exposure to pro- and anti-radiotherapy messages, in both the conventional rhetoric and storytelling formats. Immediate reactions and the responses after counter persuasion were assessed and analyzed.

Major findings of Professor Huang’s studies include,

  • Campaign messages in story formats can lead to better retention of information, which could enhance audience resistance to counter persuasion.
  • The experiential processes associated with narrative exposure, such as identification with story characters and the feeling of “being transported” into the story world, can increase counter-arguing with competing messages.
  • Narrative messages are much more effective than rhetorical messages in communicating counter-attitudinal information.

After sharing her research Professor Huang discussed various theoretical and practical implications including,

  • Narrative persuasion research may benefit from focusing attention beyond the change in attitude intensity to other properties of attitude strength.
  • The mechanisms underlying the carryover effect of narratives in the face of a competing message are both cognitive and experiential.
  • The applicability of narrative persuasion theories in a competitive situation.
  • The strong potential of narrative campaign messages in altering attitude.

Temerlin Advertising Institute was honored to have Yan Huang for a lecture on her research. TAI is passionate about staying informed on all current topics in the advertising industry, hosting speakers periodically throughout the year.

Yan Huang holds a Ph.D. in mass communication from Pennsylvania State University. She teaches Consumer Behavior (ADV 2301) at SMU. Her work has appeared in such journals as American Behavioral Scientist, Health Communication, Journal of Communication, among others. Moreover, her research has been recognized with Top Paper Awards from the International Communication Association (ICA), the Association for the Education of Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) and the International Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC).

Mentoring (and Caring) for Ad Students

Mentoring (and Caring) for Ad Students
by Dr. Alice Kendrick, Marriott Professor of Advertising

 

Do you have a mentor?  Who is that person?  A professor?  Professional?  This is a question worth asking and a goal worth pursuing.

Research indicates that having a mentor can contribute to not only career success but also to psychological and physical well-being.  Yet only about one in five college graduates claim to have had a mentor while in school, according to a 2014 Gallup-Purdue survey.  Having someone “who encouraged me to pursue goals and dreams” makes a student twice as likely to enjoy an engaging career, according to that study.  There isn’t a lot of research about advertising mentors specifically, though a survey of business students at a northeastern university and alumni 3-5 years out (D’Abate 2010) found that mentoring provided short-term psychosocial support and also advanced mentees’ career development and business knowledge in the first five years on the job.

A study in the late 1990s found that minority advertising students reported they wished they had mentors while in college as well as later in the workplace. About half of the students in a 2008 study of university ad club chapter members said they had mentors, and in many cases those mentors were college professors.  In a related finding, the Gallup-Purdue study reported graduates were almost twice as likely to achieve an engaging work life if “My professors at [College] cared about me as a person.” (p. 10)

The advertising employment landscape can be complicated, and unlike some areas of study and work like engineering and investment banking, hiring opportunities don’t follow a specified pattern.  That means that ad students looking to enter the ad industry could benefit from guidance and support of a mentor or mentors along the way. And while professors often serve as defacto mentors for students, there are many other sources of mentors such as members of local professional advertising clubs, speakers who visit campus, internship supervisors, university alumni and family friends and acquaintances.  Students and faculty should seek as many opportunities as possible to enjoin professionals beyond the university to augment student learning, networking and pre-employment socialization. Professional role models and professional relationships are a key ingredient to a successful career.

Alice Kendrick, Ph.D. is Marriott Professor of Advertising in the SMU Temerlin Advertising Institute. She is currently developing a mentoring program for TAI students, alumni and professionals.

 

Sources consulted

Kendrick, Alice, Jami Fullerton and Mallorie Rodak (2010), “Advertising student interns: Career preferences and ethical issues,” Journal of Advertising Education, 14(2), 42-51.

The 2014 Gallup-Purdue Index Report (2014). Great Jobs. Great Lives. Gallup, Inc.  Retrieved from http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2014/Q2/gallup-purdue-index-releases-inaugural-findings-of-national-landmark-study.html

Fullerton, Jami, Alice Kendrick and Connie Frazier (2007), “Job Satisfaction Among Minority Advertising Professionals.”  Paper presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication national conference, August, Washington DC.

D’Abate, C. (2010), “Developmental Interactions for Business Students: Do They Make a Difference?” Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies May, 17(2), 143-155.

Can Agency Culture Foster an Ethical Mindset?

Can Agency Culture Foster an Ethical Mindset?
by TAI Professor Dr. Sidharth Muralidharan

Business ethics can be broadly defined as a brand’s moral obligations to their stakeholders, employees, consumers, competition, and society at large. Ethics operates at a higher plane than law and motivates brands to think beyond just meeting the minimal legal requirements. In advertisements, ethical considerations can manifest by providing honest and truthful information about products and services, by not being offensive, or culturally distasteful. Being in a position of influence, the expectation for a brand to abide by a moral code can never be perceived as a choice but a duty. This moral duty rests not only in the hands of the advertiser but also the hired advertising agency.

The ad agency is an organization where the blending of business and creativity occurs seamlessly. In such a competitive environment where both advertisers and agencies are driven by the motive of earning more profits, the emphasis placed on ethics, unfortunately, diminishes. Lapses in ethical judgment can negatively impact the brand in terms of lower sales, negative brand image, and can end the relationship between the agency and the client. For example, in 1991 Volvo and its agency Scali, McCabe, Sloves Inc. of New York was each fined $150,000 for their deceptive ad. The commercial depicted a monster truck that ran over a line of cars, and the only car to survive was a Volvo station wagon. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found the ad to be deceptive because the body of the Volvo was specially strengthened to withstand the impact and a regular Volvo was not equipped with a similar shell. Knowing that the demonstration did not truly represent the product, the agency still decided to move forward with the campaign, posing an ethical lapse. Granted, agencies are under the influence of their clients but the question remains, can an agency still come out with a creative ad that is both effective and morally sound?

The answer is yes. To overcome such setbacks, agencies need to foster a culture of ethics and responsibility. This should be initiated from the very top, where, leaders are setting an example and having employees not only be a part but also take ownership of the culture. A good example could be the agency ‘Enviromedia’ based in Austin, TX. The main mission of the agency is to make the world a better place to live in and help brands make profits. Championing this vision is the CEO and Founder – Valerie Salinas-Davis, who has created strategies for campaigns such as “Don’t Mess with Texas” and the eco-friendly Nissan Leaf, to name a few. Being a B-Corporation, the agency has set high standards to achieve both social and environmental goals. As per their website, the agency has contributed $1 million in pro-bono work and volunteer time to different charities. The agency headquarters has sustainable features like solar panels and water saving functionalities, while employees recycle and use recycled materials. Enviromedia is selective of who they work with, making sure their culture and values align with their clients and is propagated through the campaigns they create. From the causes they support to providing employees with paid time off, Enviromedia has shown that their belief system can foster an ethical mindset. If the industry is filled with more agencies that have a strong moral compass then it helps put pressure back onto brands to achieve their bottom line through ethical channels.

Dr. Sid Muralidharan is assistant professor at the Temerlin Advertising Institute. His primary research interests are on cross-cultural studies and advertising’s impact on mitigating social and environmental issues in India and abroad, while secondary research interests include social media and online advertising.

 

TAI Professor Dr. Hye Jin Yoon Publishes on Corporate Responsibility Campaigns on Social Networking Sites in the Journal of Business Research

TAI’s Associate Professor Dr. Hye Jin Yoon has a paper forthcoming in the Journal of Business Research, which has an impact factor of 3.354. With Dr. Yoon-Joo Lee and Nicole H. O’Donnel of Washington State University, she explored how number of followers and valence of comments could affect the perceived legitimacy of corporate social responsibility campaigns on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Title: The effects of information cues on perceived legitimacy of companies that promote corporate social responsibility initiatives on social networking sites

Abstract: Social networking sites (SNSs) are increasingly used to promote corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Consumers can like, retweet, or comment on CSR messages on SNS pages, signaling public approval or disapproval and affecting perceived legitimacy of the organization. Especially for controversial companies, such as alcohol brands, both perceived legitimacy of a cause and consumer purchase intention (PI) might be enhanced by expressions of public support on SNS pages. However, few studies have explored this relationship. The findings from Experiment 1 suggest that the number of followers (low vs. high) affected perceived legitimacy and PI. Experiment 2 revealed that the effects of comment valence on attitudinal and behavioral intention interacted with the number of followers. These findings advance our current knowledge of factors associated with perceived legitimacy of companies that promote CSR campaigns on SNS pages. Implications for advertising research and practice are discussed.

You can access the article free before December 17th, 2017.