Unit 14 - Advertising and Persuasion

General Purpose:  To understand how media can be used directly to
persuade and influence our behavior.

I.   Advertising Economics (Biaggi, 1994)

     A.   Ad Expenditures - $135 billion per year is spent on ads
          (about 70% of the Federal deficit).  Americans account
          for at least 50%.

     B.   Media Sources for Advertising - In 1994, we spent $34
          billion in newspaper ads, $29 billion in TV ads, and $10
          billion in radio ads.

     C.   Money Drives the System - you can make a fortune in mass

     D.   Direct Effects versus Indirect Effects - ads directly try
          to influence us.

     E.   How Do You Persuade People Through the Media?

II.  Theory of Persuasion:  The Elaborate Likelihood Model - ELM
     (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986)

     A.   The Tools of Influence:  MAC

          1.   Mental State - high elaboration or low elaboration

          2.   Arguments - you use different tactics to influence
               different people

          3.   Cues - persuasion variable that influences without
               thinking.  Most ads are cues rather than arguments.

     B.   The Routes to Persuasion - see page 148

     C.   The ELM in advertising (Petty et al., 1983)

          1.   Would You Buy This Razor?  

          2.   Controlling Mental State - One group is asked to
               look at ads and told that these products are not
               available - low watt.  Other group is asked to look
               at ads but the products are available and will be
               given samples - high watt.

          3.   The Arguments:  Strong vs Weak - If it contained a
               strong argument, it got a more positive attitude
               whether a citizen or athlete endorsed.  

          4.   The Cues:  Athletes vs Citizens - If endorsed by an
               athlete, it got a more positive attitude whether
               the argument was weak or strong.

          5.   Predictions

          6.   Results - see page 150

          7.   Interpreting Results - this theory does work in the
               real world.

III. Advertising and the Schools (Greenberg & Brand, 1993)

     A.   Channel One - 10,000 schools across the U.S. participated
          in Channel One.  Each school received 15 minute
          broadcasts with 2 minutes of advertising.  Ads were 
          youth-oriented - Channel One could reach a larger teen
          audience than ABC, etc.

     B.   Advertising Income - $500,000 made each day

     C.   Methods and Results - see page 151

     D.   Conclusions 

          1.   Good business - advertisers love it
          2.   Mixed effect for students

IV.  Subliminal Persuasion (Severin & Tankard, 1988; Brannon &
     Brock, 1994)

     A.   My God, There's a Naked Woman in My Ice Cubes

          1.   What Is Subliminal Persuasion?  any message that
               influences you below your conscious awareness.

          2.   Subliminal in Another Key (Key, 1972) - you believe
               that it does exist, is used a lot, and has a strong

     B.   Pop Culture Examples of Subliminal Persuasion

          1.   Mr. Vicary's Subliminal Machine - Vicary owned
               movie theatres in the 50's and 60's.  He would cut
               the film and splice it with a brief message - eat
               popcorn.  Vicary claimed that popcorn sales

          2.   Suddenly, I Feel Thin - self-help tapes to help
               with weight loss

          3.   Hal Becker Stops Shoplifters - stores that use his
               tapes report less shoplifting.

          4.   Rock 'n Roll Demons - plaintiffs claimed their
               adolescent son committed suicide after listening to
               a Judas Priest tape.  Jury believed that the group
               did not plant these messages.

     C.   Scientific Analysis of These Examples

          1.   "There is no scientific evidence that subliminal
               stimulation can initiate subsequent action, to say
               nothing of commercially or politically significant

               Berelson and Steiner, 1964 (quoted in Severin and
               Tankard, 1988, page 130.)

               "Subliminal tapes are today's snake oil.  There's
               no evidence that there is subliminal perception of
               their message.  There's no evidence of any
               perception at all, let alone evidence that they

               Pratkanis, 1990 (quoted in Brannon and Brock, 1994,
               page 288.)

     D.   Exceptions:  Scientific Research (Kilbourne et al., 1985)

          1.   Say It Ain't So - wanted to see if subliminal
               advertising could change the way people think/feel. 

          2.   Methods - series of slides shown with one ad
               altered to include a subliminal message.  Then
               asked to rate how much you liked the ads.

          3.   Results - both men and women had a more favorable
               attitude toward the ad if they saw the subliminal
               one (small effect).

     E.   Yeah, But...A Meta-Analysis (Trappery, 1996)
		-23 different studies---Sorry Charlie, no effect
		-box effect 47/53----not even a small effect

V.   Conclusions About Persuasion

     A.   Money Is the Cause

     B.   The Search for the Magic Bullet Continues - there is no
          magic bullet (evidence - subliminal effects).

     C.   But They Still Know How To Move You 

Back to Notes Table of Contents

Notes prepared by Teresa Jones, Spring, 1996. Page created April 21, 1996; updated on October 12, 1999. Edited by Mike Lowry Copyright © Teresa Jones and Steve Booth-Butterfield, 1996.