Print and Televisual Advertisements and the Effects of Humor

12 Dec

Print and Televisual Advertisements and the Effects of Humor

Elliott Sawyer

This study investigates the use of humor in both Print and Televisual Advertisements to study the persuasiveness of humor in advertising and the difference between the two mediums.  Zhang, Buijzen, and Valkenburg all suggest that advertisements are much more attractive to a consumer when using humor but they may not be as effective for selling the product.  Strick, van Baaren, Holland, van Knippenberg, and Zhang all suggest that humor does increase the positive attitudes towards the ad, but not necessarily towards the brand.  This study bridges the gap between other studies that focus primarily on either Television or Print ads.  Participants (N=27) completed measures of attitudes towards the ad, humor in the ad, and purchase intent. The hypothesis that the humorous televisual ad would have the highest attitudes and purchase intent out of all four categories was not supported by the data.

I just finished writing up my study.  So, please read some of my academic work.  My results are quite startling.  I can send anyone a copy of my study, but please do not reuse it without permission.  The purpose of posting on my blog is to let people see what I’m up to, and to further academic knowledge.  This was done for my Comm Research Methods class.

The role of humor within the advertising world has long been discussed as to whether humor within an advertisement increases the effectiveness.  Often, researchers have found that the use of humor makes the product more attractive, but does not necessarily make the advertisement any more effective (Zhang 1996; Buijzen and Valkenburg 2004).

Often, studies have either focused primarily on either audiovisual materials (Buijzen and Valkenburg 2004) or print materials (Cline and Kellaris 2007; Shabbir and Thwaites 2007; Strick, van Baaren, Holland, and van Knippenberg 2009; Zhang 1996).  The print material studies typically involve the placement of a funny cartoon near an advertisement rather than the use of humor within the advertisement itself.  The studies, so far, have not focused on the two materials together.

Many of the studies focus on the attitudes towards the ad (Strick, van Baaren, Holland, and van Knippenberg 2009; Zhang 1996), and have shown that humor does increase positive attitudes towards the advertisement, but they do not cover the persuasiveness aspect.  Shabbir and Thwaites (2007) suggest that humor may not necessarily increase persuasiveness, and that humor may have to be deceptively used in order to persuade the audience.

As an initial experiment, this investigation advances the idea that televisual commercials are more persuasive than print advertisements especially when using humor.  The investigation studies both the effects of humor and persuasiveness of the advertisement.

The hypotheses proposed were:

H1: The humorous television ad will have higher attitudes towards the ad, more likely to purchase the product, and higher impressions of the brand.

H2: Overall, the humorous advertisements will be more appealing in regards to purchase intent and attitudes than the non-humorous advertisements.

Method

Participants:

Participants consisted of 27 undergraduate students from the University of Puget Sound.  The majority of the students came from First Year Communication Studies Courses.  Participation was volunteer and confidential.  The participants were asked to complete a packet consisting of three questionnaires twice.  The first set was finished after viewing the print stimulus material, and the second was completed after viewing the televisual stimulus material.  The questionnaires measured attitudes towards the ad, humor in ads, and purchase intent.  Participants were split up into two groups: one receiving both a print and televisual humorous stimulus and the other receiving both a print and televisual non humorous stimulus.

Stimuli:

All 4 stimuli were from Pepsi campaigns, and both non humorous stimulus were from the newest 2009 campaign.  The non-humorous print ad featured very bright colors with different phrases with “O”s being filled instead with the new Pepsi logo.  Also, different smiley faces resembling emoticons were created out of the manipulation of the new logo.  The non-humorous televisual ad was very short at 30 seconds, and they also featured bright colors and the replacement of “O”s with the new logo in positive phrases.  The humorous print ad displayed a monkey handing a Pepsi to a truck driver to bribe the driver for the Bananas in the truck.  The humorous televisual ad was about a minute and a half and featured a child growing up and training to become a monk.  At his initiation, he realizes that the symbol for the monks is actually the top of a Pepsi can.  So, he promptly crushes the can with his forehead to gain the symbol and acceptance.

Measures:

Attitude Towards the Ad (ATA) was measured in a 9 question 9 point Likert scale (Cyril and Gray 2005).  The original scale was modified to have 9 points from the previous 7.  Purchase intent was measured with the 8 question 7 point Likert Purchase Intent Scale (PIS) (Till and Baack 2005).  The PIS was broken up into two parts to better understand the data.  The first three questions were considered the actual purchase intent, and the last 5 questions were considered the Impression of the Brand.  The last scale was the Humor in Ads Scale (HAS) which consisted of two parts (Smith 2003).  The first part was a 4 question 9 point Likert scale measuring the humor in the ad, and the second was a section for participants to write down any additional thoughts about the ad which were later counted for positive and negative comments.

The data was manually entered into the SPSS program.  Two questionnaires in the Humorous stimulus group were not filled out properly.  One of them did not answer two questions and the other circled two numbers in multiple replies.  These were corrected to make the answers as neutral as possible to not influence the data.  One study was thrown out of the non-humorous stimulus group because the participant did not complete the questionnaires correctly.  Correlations and Means were calculated within the program.  Reliability was also calculated.

The ATA received a reliability of .611 for the print stimulus and a .814 for the televisual stimulus.  The .611 ATA reliability was the only scale to fail to reach the .7 level of reliability.  The PIS purchase section received a .914 reliability for print and .971 for televisual.  The PIS Brand impression section received a .960 reliability for print and .970 for televisual.  The HAS received a .846 reliability for print and .869 for televisual.

Results

Means were first used to compute the difference between the non-humorous and humorous stimuli in the print and televisual groups.  Hypothesis 1 stated that Humorous televisual group would have the highest ATA, PIS, and Brand.  In table 1, this is proven to be false in a statistically significant way for the ATA and Brand.  The PIS does also show false, but not statistically significant.

Table 1:

Humor_NonH TV_ATA TV_Purchase TV_Brand TV_Humor
NonHumor     Mean

N

Std. Deviat.

59.58

12

11.123

11.25

12

4.975

23.67

12

4.619

22.5

12

5.429

Humor            Mean

N

Std. Deviat.

49.80

15

12.974

10.00

15

5.529

18.47

15

7.936

22.73

15

10.299

Total               Mean

N

Std. Deviat.

54.15

27

12.943

10.56

27

5.228

20.78

27

7.062

22.52

27

8.345

The non-humorous televisual stimulus material has a higher ATA, PIS, and Brand.  The ATA is statistically significant at .049, and the Brand is statistically significant at .055.  The significance of the PIS being higher for non-humorous is at .547.  The only category favoring the humorous stimuli is the actual HAS with significance at .885.

Hypothesis 2 claims that the humorous stimuli will be all around more appealing in all of the categories.  Table 2 disproves this hypothesis.

Table 2:

Humor_NonH Print_ATA Print_Purchase Print_Brand Print_Humor
NonHumor     Mean

N

Std. Deviat.

53.42

12

12.303

11.00

12

5.063

22.83

12

5.289

21.08

12

4.461

Humor            Mean

N

Std. Deviat.

49.93

15

6.713

8.87

15

4.138

17.27

15

6.923

19.87

15

7.160

Total               Mean

N

Std. Deviat.

51.48

27

9.561

9.87

27

4.608

19.74

27

6.752

20.41

27

6.034

The non-humorous print stimulus has a higher ATA, PIS, Brand, and Humor.  The only section that is statistically significant is the Brand at .030.  The ATA significance is at .357; the PIS significance is at .239; the Humor significance is at .612.

Further investigation was warranted due to the startling results.  A correlation between the different scales and sex as well as age was done.  Table 3 displays the correlation for the televisual category.  Table 4 displays the correlation for the Print Category.

Table 3:

Sex Age TV_ATA TV_Purchase TV_Brand
Sex     Pearson Correlation

Sig. (1-tailed)

N

1

27

-.460**

.008

27

-.241

.113

27

-.463**

.008

27

-.359*

.033

27

Age    Pearson Correlation

Sig. (1-tailed)

N

-.460**

.008

27

1

27

.004

.491

27

.243

.111

27

.194

.166

27

**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (1-tailed)
*. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (1-tailed)

Table 4:

Sex Age Print_ATA Print_Purchase Print_Brand
Sex     Pearson Correlation

Sig. (1-tailed)

N

1

27

-.460**

.008

27

-.379*

.026

27

-.455**

.009

27

-.300

.065

27

Age    Pearson Correlation

Sig. (1-tailed)

N

-.460**

.008

27

1

27

.066

.371

27

.303

.062

27

.385*

.024

27

**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (1-tailed)
*. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (1-tailed)

Discussion

The purpose of this study was to bridge the gap in humor research between print stimulus and televisual stimulus, and to use real world stimulus material to better understand what advertisers present to the public.  The thinking was guided by the idea that humor has been shown in both areas to increase the attractiveness of the advertisements, but not necessarily the purchase intent Zhang 1996; Buijzen and Valkenburg 2004).  Positive attitudes towards the brand have also been shown to increase with the use of humor in advertisements (Strick, van Baaren, Holland, and van Knippenberg 2009; Zhang 1996).

However, the results of this study differ with that which has come before it.  Not only is the claim that humor increases the positive attitudes towards the brand disproven with this data, but it also shows that, overall, non-humorous ads are more effective and likely to have the product purchased.  On the other hand, both studies have statistically significant low attitudes towards the brand.

This suggests that the stimulus material used was not as effective as hoped, and that Pepsi has very polar attitudes towards it.

An unpredicted effect also arose within the study, and that was the difference between males and females.  Females were found to have low ATA, PIS, and Brand whether the stimulus was print or televisual, and most of these were statistically significant.  This data states that females may have more of a strong feeling towards the Brand of Pepsi possibly due to the image of Pepsi.

Age also seems to be a bit of an issue within the data, although it is not as striking as the difference in sex.  The older people were, the higher their PIS and Attitudes towards the Brand were.  The Print Brand was statistically significant, as well.  This may suggest that the soda brand may be more appealing to an older crowd.  However, the range of age in the study was from 17-23 which is not that much of a difference.

If this study was to be repeated, new stimulus material would be necessary to give possibly fairer judgments and to test the results of this study.  Pretesting would be a key component to find a neutral brand without as many preconceived notions.  Another possibility would be to assign different groups a different order of the stimulus material.  One group then may see the televisual ad before the print ad, instead.  Or, one could try to see if there was a humor effect on advertisements.  This could be tested by possibly showing a humorous televisual ad before showing a non-humorous print ad for one group, and the other would see a non-humorous televisual ad before the non-humorous print ad.

The suggestion for different stimulus material actually came from the participants themselves in the write in section of the Humor in Ads scale.  Some key phrases to suggest the stimulus material was not appropriate included: “I don’t like Pepsi so the advertisement doesn’t make much of a difference,” “It’s hard to say whether you would buy the product when we already know the product so well,” “Ads don’t change my opinions on Pepsi,” “Coke is still better,” and “Interesting, but I still don’t like cola.”  All of these phrases actually came from both the humorous and non-humorous groups.

The goal of this study was to bridge the divide between humorous televisual and print advertisement research.  Therefore, more studies that follow with the same goal are necessary to see if some of the same or different effects of this study happen when both medias are shown to the same participants.

References

Buijzen, M., & Valkenburg, P.M. (2004). Developing a typology of humor in audiovisual media. Media Psychology, 6, 147-167.

Cline, T.W., & Kellaris, J.J. (2007). Humor and ad memorability: on the contributions of humor expectancy, relevancy, and need for humor. Psychology and Marketing, 24(6), 497-509.

Cyril de Run, E. & Gray, B. (2005). Attitude towards the ad: Assessing measurement invariance in cross-ethnic research. Conference: Marketing in International and Cross-Cultural Environments, 14-20.

Shabbir, H., & Thwaites, D. (2007). The use of humor to mask deceptive advertising. Journal of Advertising, 36(2), 75-85.

Smith, S.M. (1993). Does humor in advertising enhance systematic processing?. Advances in Consumer Research, 20, 155-158.

Strick, M., van Baaren, R., Holland, R., & van Knippenberg, A. (2009). Humor in advertisements enhances product liking by mere association. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 15(1), 35-45.

Till, B.D. & Baack, D.W. (2005). Recall and persuasion: Does creative advertising matter?. Journal of Advertising, 34(3), 47-57.

Zhang, Y. (1996). Responses to humorous advertising: The moderating effect of need for cognition. Journal of Advertising, 25(1), 15-32.

Advertisements

5 Responses to “Print and Televisual Advertisements and the Effects of Humor”

  1. sandysays1 December 12, 2009 at 6:32 PM #

    Now I know why I laugh when I watch one of those Fedex Super Bowl commercials. Ummm, I just hope keep on doin’ it now that I’ll be looking for all the reasons, sub-theories, and so on.

  2. pawan kumar February 26, 2010 at 11:23 AM #

    sir..
    thanks..for such a nice research work giving to the world…but can u please send me the whole report on my mail id?specially i want to see d questions u asked to the participant.
    thanx

  3. deidre June 14, 2010 at 12:14 AM #

    That’s an interesting study. I’d like to ask you a few questions via e-mail, if you have the time 🙂

  4. AB February 23, 2011 at 4:27 AM #

    Hi! I really like your research. Could you send me more (whole report) about this examination on my email? I will be grateful, because I’m writing my MA thesis now. It would be very helpful for me..

    • MechanisticMoth February 23, 2011 at 10:55 AM #

      Hi! Unfortunately, this lovely thing was written a couple of years ago. So, I no longer have a copy because it disappeared into the woodworks. Thanks for checking it out, though.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: