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Emotions, Persuasion, Stereotypes

The discussion assignment for this week includes a review of the Key Assignment Outline completed by one of your classmates, as well as a substantial response to at least 1 other student.

Primary Task Response: Your first task is to post your own Key Assignment Outline to the discussion area so that other students are able to review your plan. Attach your document to the main discussion post, and include any notes you feel are appropriate. The purpose of this assignment is to help improve the quality of the Key Assignment Draft you will complete next week


Reading Material for the Assignment  

Advertising Strategies and Media

This unit addresses established strategies for advertisement copywriting and details the media for which a copywriter might be asked to write. A copywriter’s ultimate goal is to creatively capture an audience’s attention with words. There are several established ways of doing this.

Emotional Versus Reasoned or Intellectual Appeal

What creative strategy a copywriter chooses depends a great deal on the targeted audience or target market. There are two types of advertising strategies, and a copywriter must use one or both types to reach a target audience. A creative team can appeal, in one way or another, to an audience’s emotions or to its intellectual sensibilities, or reason. An appeal to emotions for an electronics company might include the headline, “Look smart.” The same product advertised with an appeal to reason might have the headline, “The fastest, smallest MP3 player on the market.”

Some advertisements and advertising campaigns utilize both strategies. For example, a television advertisement might use a well-known celebrity to emotionally draw consumers to the advertisement. The celebrity gives a testimonial, and consumers have a concrete reason to use that product or service.

Copywriting that appeals to emotion makes the consumer feel the desire or need for a product. It utilizes several different, specific tactics:

·         Humor: Copywriters can capture the audience’s attention using witty word play or jokes in the advertising message and content.

·         Fear: Copywriting that refers to things that people fear, accompanied by frightening imagery, can grab the audience’s attention.

·         Sexuality: There is a saying in advertising that sex sells. Human sexuality is effectively used in advertisements and advertising campaigns for everything from automobiles to washing machines.

·         Shock: Shocking images and copywriting often help to capture audience attention. Copywriting that is not expected in the context of an advertisement can accomplish this as well. Many public health advertisements (e.g., anti-tobacco campaigns) use imagery and copy to shock and frighten the audience.

·         Happiness: Copywriting using words that people associate with happiness or designing advertising campaigns that incorporate happy users of a product or service is often successful.

Copywriting that appeals to the audience’s intellect includes other tactics:

·         Direct comparison: By creating a comparison between a client’s product or service and that of a competitor, a copywriter can appeal to an audience’s intellect. Sometimes, a comparative checklist is used. In audio advertising, one character that uses a product or service talks with a character who uses a competitor’s product or service, and the two compare experiences.

·         Testimonials: A carefully written, honest endorsement from an individual chosen from a target market can illustrate customer satisfaction and can appeal to the audience of an advertisement. Some advertising firms appeal to an audience’s sense of trust or belief by hiring celebrities, athletes, doctors, or engineers to give an honest assessment of the product or service.

·         Visual evidence or factual statements: A phrase that goes a long way in advertising is, “Show; don’t tell.” Many advertisements capitalize on fewer words. Those well-chosen words with corresponding imagery prove to a target market the usefulness of a product or service in a simple, straightforward way. Showing the benefits of a client’s product or service is part of a good strategy.

·         Educational or instructional: Sometimes advertising copy is designed to teach the audience about a new product or service. Informative commercials, or infomercials, use this strategy.

Advertising Media or Vehicle

Deciding which words to use to sell a product or service is only one part of designing a creative strategy. Effective copywriters and advertising firms also decide where and in what form to place these advertisements. This is sometimes known as the media or vehicle, which is the method of delivering the advertisement. A copywriter at an advertising firm does more than write copy for traditional print, television, or radio ads. Potential locations for advertisement copy are virtually endless. The more creative an advertising firm can be in selecting diverse, but appropriate, media to reach its target market, then the more effective it is for its clients.

Often, copywriting takes the form of extended narratives, articles, speeches, or press releases that sell not only products and services, but also a person or a business as a whole.

You are sitting in a dark, crowded movie theater. 

You are at the midnight showing of a movie about paranormal activity, which is based on real events. 

It is the climactic final moments of the film. Suddenly, something flashes across the screen and a door slams.  

The character reaches to open the door and… 

The murderer is the ghost of the dead neighbor! 

Were you scared? 

Your reaction could be a result of the law of apparent reality. It states that “emotions are elicited by events appraised as real, and their intensity corresponds to the degree to which this is the case” (Sparks, 2010). 

The more real a situation feels, the scarier it can be for the viewer.  

You can learn more about this at the following Web site:  



Sparks, G. (2010). Media effects research: A basic overview. Boston, MA: Wadsworth. 

12 laws of the emotions. (n.d.). Retrieved from PsyBlog Web site:  http://www.spring.org.uk/2008/12/12-laws-of-emotions.php

Buying is Emotional: The Customer’s Emotional Connection with the Buying Puzzle

Most people buy based on emotion. Companies always fight for customer market share with everything from groceries to cars.

This emotional connection with products and brands is based on product value. The customer usually determines the return on investment (ROI) when considering the buy.

The next thing customers look for is product reliability. If the product is not reliable, customers will not only choose not to buy again, but will use word-of-mouth (WOM) advertising to tell other potential buyers about the failure of the product. In today’s social media world, this can be disastrous for a company.

Finally, the product’s image drives the buy for the customer. The image is tied to culture and social status, and often, customers associate the product image with how it looks to friends and family.

Tugging at the customer’s heartstrings is not an accident. Advertisers use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to advertise emotional appeals which, in turn, are applicable to Maslow’s motivation theory. Customers are motivated to make a purchase based on one or all of these needs. Maslow noted that humans are motivated by unsatisfied needs, where lower needs are met before higher needs can be satisfied (Maslow, 2009).

Maslow’s hierarchy includes the following (Maslow, 2009):

·         Physiological needs

·         Safety needs

·         Social needs

·         Esteem needs

·         Self-actualization 


Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. (2009). Retrieved from the Abraham Maslow: Father of Modern Management Web site: http://www.abraham-maslow.com/m_motivation/Hierarchy_of_Needs.asp

Media and Social Theories

The consensus among researchers is that media can influence both knowledge and behavior in society. Several sociological theories are used to explain these relationships.

The Diffusion of Innovation

Diffusion of innovationis a theory of why, how, and when ideas spread throughout society and culture. Everett Rogers, who is known for writing Diffusion of Innovations, explains the theory as “the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system” (Rogers, 1962).

According to Rogers, ideas are adopted successively by different groups of consumers. These groups are categorized as innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards.This theory also holds that mass media can be a crucial component in influencing beliefs and attitudes that will eventually lead to behavior change and adoption (Amador, et al., 2005).

New media have dramatically increased the speed at which ideas diffuse across and saturate society. As society continues to adopt social networks and consume Internet media, businesses and organizations will be able to spread their messages and ideas to their audience at a faster rate. Furthermore, as Web 2.0 communications grow in popularity, leaders will be able to identify the need for innovation in areas that would have otherwise been overlooked without the use of Internet technology.

The Agenda Setting Theory

The agenda setting theorysuggests that mass media influence society by deciding which stories are considered to be newsworthy. The theory is that the media give coverage and emphasis to stories according to their own media agendas by deciding which news stories are discussed publicly and which stories are ignored (The Missouri Group, 2001).

There are three major constructs in the agenda setting theory that explain media influence on society. Media agenda setting refers to influencing the selection of issues that are emphasized in the media. Public agenda setting refers to the link between the issues that are emphasized in the media and the priority the public places on those issues. Policy agenda setting refers to the link between policy making and the issues emphasized in the media (Finnegan & Viswanath, 2002).

New media have altered the way information is spread throughout society and how agendas are set. As more and more individuals publish content over the Internet via personal blogs, streaming video, social networks, and other forms of media—the mass media lose control over which issues are talked about and which issues are not.

Media and Societal Issues

Many researchers agree that media influence a number of social issues in the United States and across the globe. Media effects refer to changes in behavior, knowledge, or attitudes that result from media exposure.

Exposure to media can result in negative media effects. Some theorists suggest that the media promotes tolerance for violence, prejudice, sexual activity, and drug abuse.

Interaction with the media can also result in positive media effects. Information campaigns and public service announcements use the media to promote prosocial behavior. These campaigns often target public health issues such as smoking, sexual activity, and childhood obesity.

The Digital Divide

The digital divide describes a gap in Internet access between different racial populations and between rich and poor nations. Until Internet technology is universally available throughout society, new media may continue to increase the digital divide and widen class division. Providing equal access to technology will not necessarily solve the issue, however.The knowledge gap theoryproposes that there can be appreciable differences in learning as a result of exposure to media information. Individuals with distinct backgrounds frequently demonstrate differential learning from the mass media. Individuals with prior information and a higher level of education frequently learn more when exposed to media information. In contrast, individuals with lower education and less prior information, tend to learn less when exposed to new information (Finnegan and Viswanath, 2002). Therefore, as new media become available to minority populations and poor countries, the knowledge gap may still continue to increase across classes.


Amador, X., Duerksen, S., Kustin, B., Lopez, J., Mikail, A., Patton, A., … Victorio, M. (2005). Health disparities and advertising content of women’s magazines: A cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health. Retrieved from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/5/85

Finnegan, J. R., & Viswanath, K. (2002). Communication theory. Retrieved from Enclicopedia.com Web site: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/communication_theory.aspx

Rogers, E. M. (1962). Diffusion of innovations. New York, NY: Free Press

The Missouri Group. (2001). News Reporting and Writing. (7th ed.) Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Body image and body dissatisfaction are two topics that have frequently been examined in media studies. One question under examination is whether the media’s depiction of female bodies in the movies and on TV impacts how people feel about their own bodies. Many studies have been conducted examining the TV and movie images in which females are presented as very thin, and males in the same were not. Other studies have examined heavier female characters who received more negativity aimed toward them in their roles. Examples of this included negative comments directed toward the character or comments about the character, as well as accompanying laugh tracks used to imply that such comments are funny and that the audience should also laugh.

These kinds of body image issues are particularly worrisome for young girls who may believe they should be extremely thin. The danger comes when girls begin to measure themselves against others based on what they see in the media. Many researchers have found that body dissatisfaction and body image difficulties can result in serious psychological and physical problems, some potentially life-threatening. Additional research is needed in this area to further determine the role that media plays in the body images of both males and females and what can be done to effectively address body dissatisfaction issues.

Product placement is the inclusion of a product into a medium, such as a movie or TV show. It is a way for companies to promote their products without a formal commercial or advertisement. Today’s media consumers are often bombarded with TV commercials, online advertisements, and an array of promotions in all media forms. Product placement is one way that companies have found they can add more subtle promotions into their standard advertising campaigns. Advertisers often use product placement in addition to their commercials and other advertising campaigns. They can pay to have their product show up in a TV show, movie, or video game. Product placement has been a part of media since the 1950s, when advertisers paid a movie studio to have Katherine Hepburn’s character pour a popular brand of gin overboard in the movie African Queen. Other often-cited examples of product placement in movies include the use of small candies in the movie E.T.; the car in Back to the Future; and multiple products (part of a spoof on product placement) in the movie Wayne’s World. Product placement is also very popular in television shows, and every imaginable product can show up on-screen in a carefully choreographed placement that prominently features the product. Research on this topic has attempted to evaluate the effectiveness of product placement in movies. They found that individuals were able to recall products seen during the movie, and they approved of the products more because they were seen in the movie. These findings have reinforced the value of product placement for advertisers, and it is anticipated that the practice will continue to grow in the future in all forms of media.

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