Persuasion Theories in Advertising
We are bombarded daily with a variety of communicative devices that attempt to influence our thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes in some way. The primary role of this advertising methodology is to persuade, to change the way we construct a certain meaning in our head. Persuasion is a very powerful tool in affecting our idea of how, what or who people should be. The media uses this tool in an attempt to create a need for their product in society. In the ad for Orthro Tri-Cyclen birth control pills they focus on the added benefit their product has over other birth control pills and topical skin medications. The producers try to entice the consumer into using their brand by promising extra rewards. The strategy producers’ employ to execute this persuasion and the effectiveness of that strategy will be identified and analyzed through the advertisement for Ortho Tri-Cyclen birth control pills.
Advertisers use a variety of techniques to modify our thoughts, beliefs and actions. One such strategy is the source used to transmit their message. We, as consumers, judge the source and formulate an opinion about the product based partly on their representation of it. There are three main categories, or source characteristics, we use to analyze a source, credibility, similarity and attractiveness. In this ad for Ortho Tri-Cyclen the source is the young woman who serves as a spokesperson for the company. I will use the characteristics mentioned above to assess the source presented.
Credibility is an essential factor to a communicator’s effectiveness. Their message is believed to have a greater influence if they are perceived as credible sources. Credibility is dependent on a source’s believability, which in turn depends upon five sub-factors: competence, trustworthiness, extroversion, composure, and sociability (DeFleur, Kearney &Plax, 1998). This source’s credibility is questionable because she is in no way presented as being an expert in either birth control or dermatology. Any knowledge she has on the subject is assumed to be through experience. However, she is not professing a superior position of ‘ I know what is best for you’. Rather she is in the position of ‘it worked for me and it could work for you’. Trustworthiness is hard to measure in this ad because we have no inclination to trust or to not. Our trust is constructed from the fact that she uses or has used the product and has a flawless complexion with no children to show. Extroversion is not a determinant of credibility in this case because it is impossible to tell how outgoing or bold the source is with our limited perspective. The composure of the source refers to their emotional state, if they are confident and poised and relaxed, they show more reliance in the product they represent. She is all of these things, which reflects her assurance in her product. She also sends signals of nonverbal immediacy, leaning forward, giving direct eye contact and smiling. This makes her sociable, she seems friendly and caring, just through her body language. It is as though she is making a personal recommendation to each one of us. She appears completely sincere and so we tend to give her a high credibility rating, and believe in the product she represents.
There are several other components that are used to analyze a source in an advertisement. One of the source characteristics is attractiveness. In our society, it is an unspoken fact that, what is pleasing to the eye has more value. Meaning, the more relative attractiveness sources have determines, in part, their effectiveness. The source in this ad is of average attractiveness. However, her overall appearance is polished. Her hair is neatly done in a contemporary style, she is well dressed in a casual way and has very natural make-up on. She is a typical young woman, offering advice on a birth control...
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