10 Chapter 12: Branding

CC0 Public Domain

Lifestyle has a great impact on consumer behavior and brand preferences. Very often, consumers tend to choose brands that are considered “appropriate” for their self-image. Accordingly, companies will try to position their brands in order to fit into consumers’ lifestyle. In addition to expressing their identity through the everyday choices they make, consumers will often seek new ways in which they can express their personal identity. As a result, consumers can use brands as a relevant mean of self- expression and also as a lifestyle “beacon”.

Do mundane daily choices,such as what brands to buy in a supermarket, reflect aspects of our values and ideologies? Check out this article for research on this topic!

The Psychology And Philosophy Of Branding, Marketing, Needs, And Actions


The following web resources will allow you to explore this topic area in greater depth:

  1. This is the official website of the National Federation of Independent Business. This link is the Small Business Branding and Image resource site, which includes research, best practices and other business resources.


2. This is the official website for the Association of Image Consultants International (AICI). The AICI is the  leading and largest professional association of personal and corporate image consultants worldwide. A non-profit organization, AICI is dedicated to advancing the level of professionalism and enhancing the recognition of image consultants.


The Future of Branding is Personal | Talaya Waller | TEDxPSU

Did you know the average employee has ten times the amount of followers as their company on social media? In a post-recession economy where innovation continues to disrupt the way we do business, corporations have turned to personal branding to help build consumer trust. In this engaging and insightful talk, personal branding expert Dr. Talaya Waller discusses the power that is unleashed when corporations and consumers alike develop brands that are authentic and personal. Dr. Waller is an award-winning marketing scholar and international speaker whose mission is to help leaders share their story, leverage their expertise and make a positive impact on society. As founder and CEO of Waller & Company, Dr. Waller works with executives, entrepreneurs, and public figures from a variety of industries in the U.S. and abroad to develop awareness and credibility for their brand. She is featured in publications such as Forbes, Fast Company, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Dr. Talaya Waller is an international personal branding consultant, speaker, and award-winning research scholar. Her consultancy helps thought-leaders build influence and credibility for their personal brand. Dr. Waller’s mission is to help people share their story, leverage expertise, and make a positive impact on society. She has a Doctorate in Business Administration with a concentration in Leadership and is presently researching personal branding. Dr. Waller has an online presence of over 35,000 followers and is published in Forbes, Fast Company, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.



The following was edited from Advertising Campaigns: Start to Finish: Chapter 12 Tell the Brand Story


(Original Creative Commons text: https://2012books.lardbucket.org/books/advertising-campaigns-start-to-finish/s15-make-the-message-sell-ss-k-ens.html)



You’ve done your homework. You understand your audience, you’ve identified the objectives and strategy for your campaign, and you know what media you’ll use to reach your target consumers. You’re almost there—but you’ve still got to decide how to say what you want to say.

Should you focus on reason or appeal to the heartstrings? Should you spell out the arguments or show visually why your idea, product, or service is worth a serious look? Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words; other times it’s just a pretty picture. Usually, you need both words and images to get your ideas across, so you need both copywriters and art directors to do their magic. We’ll take a look at some of the options the advertiser has available to make it sell.

Advertisers are always looking for what’s next so they can “stay ahead of trends”. Here is an example of an infographic that attempted to predict what would be relevant in 2020. How close did they get? https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/the-digital-and-graphic-design-trends-of-2020-infographic/568850/

10.1 Keys to Superior Advertising


After studying this section, students should be able to do the following:

  1. Define relevance and resonance.
  2. Explain why having an emotional connection is the common denominator for most successful ads.
  3. List and describe the five factors that constitute an ad’s likeability.

The keys to superior advertising are resonance and relevance. A great ad makes a deep impression that reverberates inside you and stays with you, while it creates a bond between you and the product. “Just do it.”

Relevance and Resonance

Relevance is the extent to which the images, ideas, concepts, and advertised product attributes overlap with the target’s needs, wants, values, context, or situation. Resonance is the extent to which these images, ideas, concepts, and advertised product attributes connect more deeply in the target’s heart and mind. Let’s look at a few examples of how the two factors work together and then dig into more detail about how exactly to make a message sell.

Example: Household Challenge Meets Household Humor

Say your client is a bank that wants to promote its home mortgage product. The objective of the message is to show that your mortgage terms won’t be as burdensome as the competitors. How can you get this message across?

Ad agency Hall Moore CHI faced this challenge with its client NatWest, a British bank. Art director Richard Megson and copywriter Matthew Davis worked together to create an animated TV ad that showed a man struggling under the weight of a huge mortgage. He threw his burden into a washing machine and shrank it to a manageable size. The message was simple and clear—the idea of shrinking a huge mortgage was appealing and relevant to the target audience of homeowners.“Simplicity Originality Relevance,” Precision Marketing, August 24, 2007, 17. This execution delivers both “relevance” with its image of a large mortgage and “resonance” as it graphically depicts the tempting process of shrinking one’s debt in the wash. If only it were that easy in real life.

Example: The Resonance of Personal Stories

Adidas found a way to express the idea of doing the impossible. Its ads featured personal stories from athletes, both famous and not so famous. In the spots its agency 180 Amsterdam/TBWA created, the athletes told true stories of challenges that they had overcome—their own “impossible.” For Olympic swimming superstar Ian Thorpe, the challenge was an allergy to chlorine—an allergy that sidelined him until he gradually overcame it.

The athletes hand-draw a picture as they talk. The simple drawings are primitive; they remind us of childhood and thus echo the storyline. For example, twenty-two-year-old American sprinter Allyson Felix draws herself as a stick figure with legs that look like ski poles as she explains that kids taunted her with the name “chicken legs” when she started out as a little kid playing basketball. Later, she says, “I came out for the track team and kind of wanted to prove everybody wrong.” Next, we see her as she wins an Olympic medal. “People putting you down can drive you to do things you didn’t even think you could do yourself,” she proclaims. Barbara Lippert, “The Impossible Dream: Super Athletes, Simple Drawings Make Adidas Ads Hypnotic,” Adweek, April 16, 2007, 44. Although the drawings are animated by artists at Passion Pictures, the feeling is personal and human. As Jason Oke of ad agency Leo Burnett Toronto commented, “After watching these I get inspired and I actually get what it means to attempt something that everyone else thinks you can’t do.”

Just as an ad can resonate with a person, elements of an ad ideally work together to reinforce each other as the childhood stories and drawings of the Adidas campaign did. Another example is an ad for a diet strawberry cheesecake that pairs the luscious image of the cake with the words “berried treasure,” to evoke the connotation of hidden delights and richness that lies inside. The play on words requires some thought, which rewards viewers with satisfaction when they “get it” and strengthens the connection among all the elements—words, images, product, brand, and meaning.

Emotion, the Common Denominator

The common denominator among the most successful ads is that they create an emotional connection with the brand. They appeal to the heart, not just the mind.

A large-scale study that analyzed award-winning campaigns found that the most effective ones focus on emotional, rather than rational appeals.“Marketing Theory: Everything You Know is Wrong.” Marketing, June 13, 2007, 28. What’s more, the Gallup organization reported that customers who are “passionate” about a brand delivered two times the profitability of average customers.

We simply can’t take the emotional contact a company has with customers and the emotional impact of its brand for granted. For example, Procter & Gamble traditionally advertised its Pampers diapers on the basis of their performance in keeping baby dry. But, as Jim Stengel (retired), chief marketing officer at Procter & Gamble, said, “Our baby-care business didn’t start growing aggressively until we changed Pampers from being about dryness to being about helping Mom with her baby’s development. That was a sea change.”Quoted in Geoff Colvin, “Selling P&G,” Fortune, September 18, 2007, http://money.cnn.com.

Wrap your practical products with an offer that appeals to emotions. People are more loyal to brands they “feel,” not just those they think about.

Of course, not all brands necessarily bring a tear to the eye—the point is to figure out just how the brand resonates with its audience and to develop messages that reinforce this relationship. One well-known branding consultant argues that there are three ways a brand can resonate: it can hit you in the head, the heart, or the gut: Marc Gobé, Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People (New York: Allworth Press, 2001).

  • Aveda hits the consumer in the head. The brand is smart, intriguing, and stimulating.
  • Godiva hits the consumer in the heart. The brand is sensual, beloved, and trusted.
  • Prada hits the consumer in the gut. The brand is sexy and cool, and you “have to have it.”

What Makes an Ad Work: Likeability

A large-scale study of prime-time commercials found that the likeability of a commercial was the best single predictor of its sales effectiveness. Alex Biel, “Love the Ad. Buy the Product? Why Liking the Advertising and Preferring the Brand Aren’t Such Strange Bedfellows After All,” Admap, September 1990; Wendy Gordon, “What Do Consumers Do Emotionally with Advertising,” Journal of Advertising Research 46, no. 1 (March 2006): 2–10. The author noted that “consumers first form an overall impression of an advertisement on a visceral or ‘gut’ level. To the extent that this impression is positive, they are likely to continue to process the advertising more fully.”

He found five factors that constitute an ad’s likeability:

  1. Ingenuity—clever, imaginative, original, silly, and not dull
  2. Meaningfulness—worth remembering, effective, not pointless, not easy to forget, true to life, convincing, informative, and believable
  3. Energy—lively, fast-moving, appealing, and well done
  4. Warmth—gentle, warm, and sensitive
  5. Does not rub the wrong way—not worn out (fresh), not phony (authentic), and not irritating

So, at the end of the day, no matter how you do it, you want people to like your ads. That sounds like a “no-brainer,” though many advertising messages don’t achieve this simple objective. Why is it so important that people like your ad?

  • Likable commercials are less likely to be avoided (zapped or muted).
  • Likeability is the “gatekeeper” to further processing: once a likable ad gets our attention, we’re more likely to think about the message it’s conveying.
  • The positive feelings the ad evokes transfer from the advertisement to the brand.



An advertisement can grab you in a lot of different ways—but it needs to grab you in some way. One way is to be relevant to your situation and needs; another is to be resonant with your desires. If nothing else, be sure people like your ad.


  1. Explain why resonance and relevance are the keys to superior advertising.
  2. Discuss the “common denominator” that most successful advertisements have in common.
  3. List and characterize each of the five factors that constitute an ad’s likeability.

10.2 Types of Appeals: How Ads Generate Resonance


After studying this section, students should be able to do the following:

  1. List and discuss five advertising appeals that a creative team can use to structure advertising.
  2. Recall and explain the six categories of values that are universal in advertising.
  3. Understand how media and social media sites can be used to advocate brands and brand messages.

All ads need some type of appeal—a psychological basis that motivates the viewer toward the advertiser’s goals. The creative team can choose from a variety of appeals to help structure the advertising. Let’s have a look at the most common ones.

Sex Appeal

Does sex sell? A sex appeal can be vaguely suggestive and subtle, or it can hit you over the head. It’s important to consider cultural differences in gauging sex appeal, as some countries allow more exposure of skin or sexual situations than others. In the United States, a passionate kiss between man and woman is perfectly fine, whereas in India such a display in public could be punishable by a fine, three months of jail time, or both.

There’s no doubt that sex gets our attention—and companies often deliberately push the envelope. Given the potentially negative reaction, do sexual appeals work? Products for which sex appeals work best are those aimed at teen or college-age buyers or for products like wine, perfume, beauty products, and lingerie. Advertisers need to tread lightly and avoid the temptation to go all-out: although erotic content does appear to draw attention to an ad, a sex appeal runs the risk of alienating the audience. And ironically, titillating the viewer may actually hinder recall of the advertised product. In one survey, an overwhelming 61 percent of the respondents said that sexual imagery in a product’s ad makes them less likely to buy it. Rebecca Gardyn, “Where’s the Lovin’?” American Demographics (February 2001): 10.

Research shows that female nudity in print ads generates negative feelings and tension among female consumers, whereas men’s reactions are generally more positive. Michael S. LaTour, “Female Nudity in Print Advertising: An Analysis of Gender Differences in Arousal and Ad Response,” Psychology & Marketing 7, no. 1 (1990): 65–81. In a case of turnabout being fair play, another study found that males dislike nude males in ads, whereas females responded well to undressed males—but not totally nude ones. Penny M. Simpson, Steve Horton, and Gene Brown, “Male Nudity in Advertisements: A Modified Replication and Extension of Gender and Product Effects,” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 24, no. 3 (1996): 257–62.

In some cases, the purpose of the nudity is simply to create buzz. For example, a celebrity appeared to be nude but was strategically covered, in a print and a thirty-second TV ad for activist group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), saying that she attributes her slim figure to not eating meat. At the time Comcast Cable pulled the ad, saying that it was too racy.

Long before the rise of social media, a campaign by Scotch-maker Johnnie Walker was a bit more subtle; billboards in California featured a seductive “Julie” and the message, “My number is 213-259-0373. And I drink Johnnie Walker.” Drinkers who called the number heard a pre-recorded female voice deliver a sales pitch and then an invitation to order Scotch by phone. During the eight months that the billboards were up in nineteen cities, 526,000 people called Julie (perhaps hoping for more than a sales pitch). This response sounds impressive. But did the campaign motivate callers to buy the brand? Unfortunately not. In fact, sales of Johnnie Walker declined 5 percent during the year of the campaign. Randall Rothenberg, “Age Hasn’t Mellowed This Agency,” New York Times, April 13, 1990, D1.

Fear Appeals

Students who don’t read Launch! will never land a job when they graduate.

We know you did not take it literally, but how did that statement feel?

A fear appeal dwells upon the negative consequences that can result unless a consumer takes the recommended action. An advertising campaign for the Volkswagen Jetta took this approach; spots depict graphic car crashes from the perspective of the passengers who chatter away as they drive down the street. Without warning, another vehicle comes out of nowhere and brutally smashes into their car. In one spot, viewers can see a passenger’s head hitting an airbag. The spots end with shots of stunned passengers, the damaged Jetta, and the slogan “Safe happens.” The ads look so realistic that consumers have called the company asking if any of the actors were hurt. Brian Steinberg, “VW Uses Shock Treatment to Sell Jetta’s Safety, Ads Test a Risky Approach with Graphic Car Crashes; ‘Any of the Actors Hurt?’” Wall Street Journal, April 19, 2006, B4.

Advertisers often resort to fear appeals when they want to bring about a radical behavior change, such as driving responsibly, eating healthily, or quitting smoking. Other fear appeals use ostracism by others—due to body odor or bad breath or limp hair or yellowed teeth or using outdated products—to create feelings of insecurity that the consumer can overcome with purchase action.

How well fear appeals work depends on how easy it is to comply with the ad’s message. A switch to a stronger, longer-lasting deodorant to avoid embarrassing stains is quite doable, and it is easy to see a benefit (if indeed the deodorant works). In contrast, fear appeals that discuss the negative consequences of smoking have to climb a higher hill because the behavior is extremely hard to change (despite good intentions) and it’s harder to detect the (long-term) health benefits. Sometimes the fear appeal is too strong and makes consumers tune it out, especially if the ad does not present a solution. Scare tactics may also backfire as people cope with the negative feelings or guilt the ad inspires by deciding the threat does not apply to them.

One famous TV commercial that relied on a heavy dose of fear was an ad for presidential candidate Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964. The campaign showed a little girl counting daisy petals in a field, “1, 2, 3.…” Then, a voice-over started a countdown, “10, 9, 8…” leading to the image of a telltale mushroom cloud as an atomic bomb exploded. “These are the stakes,” the voice-over said, concluding with “the stakes are too high for you to stay home” while the screen displayed the words “Vote for President Johnson on November 3.” This classic spot stirred up voters’ fears about the heavy trigger finger of Johnson’s opponent, the conservative politician Barry Goldwater, and (analysts say) contributed to his huge defeat in the election. https://archive.org/details/DaisyAttackAdFrom1964PresidentialElection

Humor Appeals

“A guy walks into a bar.…” A humor appeal makes us laugh and feel good. But it’s often difficult to execute well because people have to understand the humor and they have to get the link to the brand. Like sex appeals, sometimes the very humor that gets our attention distracts us from remembering the ad or from influencing our behavior.

It also helps when viewers don’t get offended; this can be an iffy proposition especially when ethnic or national stereotypes are involved.

One advantage of humor is that it reduces counterarguing; this occurs when a consumer thinks of reasons not to agree with the message. Because the comedy distracts us from our tendency to come up with reasons why we shouldn’t change our opinions, we are more likely to accept the message a humorous ad presents, as long as it does not insult or make fun of us (somehow laughing at the other guy is OK).

Humorous appeals are seldom used by banks, which tend to project a more staid image. That’s why Community Bank System decided to use a lighthearted campaign with the message “Bank Happy.” “We really wanted to find something different, something that was unbank-like and, if you look at those headlines and disclosures, there’s humor built-in,” said Hal Wentworth, the bank’s former director of sales and marketing. The campaign was designed by Mark Russell and Associates and took five months to produce. How does the bank use humor? To establish the tie to happy experiences, one ad says, “The feeling you get when you eat chocolate. Now available in a bank.” It even brings amusement to the fine-print copy at the bottom of the page. Although most people skip this, the fine print in the “Chocolate” ad says, “If you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking there’s some kind of catch. Something that requires us to write more about it in the fine print. But there isn’t. Oh sure, we could go on and on about ourselves. Like how we’re committed to serving rural areas. And how most of our people have been working with us for years. And how all of our loan decisions are made locally by folks you’ve probably cheered with at soccer or baseball games. But we won’t. Instead, we’ll just tell you that when we say ‘Bank Happy,’ we mean it. We don’t want you to ‘Bank Reasonably Contentedly’ or ‘Bank Kinda Sorta Pleased.’ We want you to Bank Happy. And we’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.”Quoted in Karen Krebsbach, “Community Bank’s ‘Bank Happy’ Sets Cheerful, Playful Tone,” US Banker 117, no. 7 (July 2007), 28. More people in the banking industry could probably use a good laugh.

Logical Appeals

The logical appeal is a rational one; it describes the product’s features, advantages, and price. Although most of the appeals we’ve talked about so far have emphasized emotion, that doesn’t mean that logic has no place in ads. Indeed, advertising that provokes a strong emotional response without providing sufficient product information is unlikely to change behavior and increase market share. It breaks through the clutter but doesn’t necessarily induce people to buy. This is what the Center for Emotional Marketing discovered when it performed a meta-analysis that combined the results of eight separate research studies. The results held true across a range of consumer product categories from food and health and beauty to automotive and technology. Leslie Picot-Zane, “Is Advertising Too Emotional?” Brandweek, January 9, 2006, 18.

Purely emotional advertising is memorable but doesn’t build a business. The advertising connects with consumers, but it fails to make use of that connection with the credible information needed to change people’s minds. This is particularly true of humor appeals. A study conducted by McCollum/Spielman showed that 75 percent of funny ads have an attention response rating equal to or higher than average, but only 31 percent are actually more persuasive.

The solution? Advertisers need to strike a balance with campaigns that integrate product information and emotion. Logic and emotion work in concert to help consumers make decisions. Sang-Pil Han and Sharon Shavitt, “Persuasion and Culture: Advertising Appeals in Individualistic and Collectivistic Societies,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 30 (1994): 326–50. Effective advertising needs to convey both seamlessly.

Values Appeals

Finally, advertising can be relevant to consumers when it uses a values appeal; this type of message relates to people’s strong underlying beliefs about priorities in their lives and morality. A research team conducted a comprehensive study of values across thirty countries to identify universal values that people hold regardless of where they live. The researchers found six categories of values that are universal:

  1. Striver: Ambitious people who seek power, status, and wealth
  2. Fun-Seeker: Individualists who seek excitement, leisure, variety, and adventure
  3. Creative: Open-minded people who want freedom, fulfilling work, and self-reliance
  4. Devout: Spiritual people who are traditional, respectful, modest, and obedient
  5. Intimate: Supportive people who create strong, deep bonds with friends and family
  6. Altruist: People who want equality and justice for everyone in society and care about the environment

Studying intercultural communication can reveal more nuanced perspectives. Certain countries exhibit a predominance of some of these values over others. For example, more than one-half of all Swedes are Intimates, which means that they emphasize social relationships as guiding principles in their lives. In contrast, 46 percent of Saudi Arabians identify Devout values as their guiding principles, while 52 percent of South Koreans are Strivers. Another study found that North Americans have more favorable attitudes toward advertising messages that focus on self-reliance, self-improvement, and the achievement of personal goals, as opposed to themes stressing family integrity, collective goals, and the feeling of harmony with others. Korean consumers exhibited the reverse pattern.

Creating advertising messages that resonate with your target audience means identifying and appealing to the values that motivate their behavior.

It’s interesting to note that individuality is a value most closely associated with the Fun-Seeker segment. Countries that have a high percentage of Fun-Seekers in their population include the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Germany. Creating a winning brand position in these countries might entail targeting the Fun-Seeker buyers with a brand that can offer an avenue to self-expression. In contrast, countries where individuality ranks lowest are the Devout-dominant countries of Indonesia, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, where duty and faith outweigh personal expression. Self-expression appeals would not work well in those countries.


An advertising appeal is a psychological basis the agency uses to create relevance and resonance with the target audience. Common appeals include sex, humor, fear, logic, and values. There is no one perfect appeal; the advertiser needs to calibrate the characteristics of the consumers with the message to ensure that consumers aren’t turned off or don’t tune out the message because they don’t care for the appeal.


  1. List and briefly describe each of the five appeals that an advertiser can use to connect with the target audience.
  2. List and describe the six categories of universal values.

10.3 Executional Frameworks: How Ads Generate Relevance


After studying this section, students should be able to do the following:

  1. Compare and contrast the five types of executional frameworks.
  2. Characterize “star power” and its usefulness to advertising.

An executional framework defines how the ad is structured. Executional frameworks get your interest, create the desire for the good or service, and motivate you to purchase it. Let’s look at five types of executional frameworks.

Lifestyle Framework

A lifestyle framework shows how the product fits into your life. For example, the “Denny’s Always Works” campaign emphasized that the nation’s largest full-service family restaurant chain is open twenty-four hours and has a variety of meal choices that meet a range of unique dining needs. Each TV commercial opened with a consumer describing why Denny’s fits perfectly into his or her life. The ads were shot on a striking yellow background with a simple, fun animation that accented what the person said. An actor portraying Denny’s guest customer speaks, and then the spot closes with a close-up of delicious food footage. To show different lifestyles, one of the fifteen-second spots opened on a frazzled mom who is amazed that Denny’s breakfasts can fill up even her teenage boys. “I didn’t think that was possible,” she says. Another fifteen-second spot features a young twenty-something guy saying how Denny’s extends his late-night fun because after the club scene winds down he can still get great food at Denny’s.“Denny’s New National Advertising Campaign Presents Real-Life Customer Dining Solutions,” Business Wire, June 26, 2006.

Scientific Framework

A scientific framework uses research and evidence to show the brand’s superiority over other brands. This executional style is popular with pharmaceuticals or with food products or beauty products that distinguish themselves in terms of their health benefits. For example, when the German pharmaceuticals maker Beiersdorf relaunched its Nivea Baby line of skincare products in Europe, it put a greater emphasis on the line’s extensive dermatological testing. “Clinical tests have always been a standard in the development of Nivea Baby products,” said Ingo Hahn, Beiersdorf’s lab manager for skincare product development. “However, with rising expectations of parents regarding product safety and skin compatibility in baby care, we decided to put more emphasis on this fact with the brand relaunch, providing our consumers with even more insights in the extremely high standards of the Nivea Baby product safety policy.”Quoted in Christine Esposito, “Efficacy is Everything: Claims Sell Products,” Household & Personal Products Industry, October 2006, 51.

Dig Deeper

Drugmakers spend billions per year on marketing in the United States—and far more than they spent just a decade ago. Are the numerous drug commercials of “shiny, happy people” we constantly see on TV too emotional and not factual enough? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration suspects they are the latter. The FDA frequently issues warnings to pharmaceutical advertisers about ads that it says mislead consumers to believe that drugs are safer or work better than the evidence supports. Advertisers use a variety of techniques to convey mandatory information about their products’ dangers. These range from recitations by actors dressed as doctors to the phrases that stream across an animated blue landscape. These practices produce interesting tensions worthy of examination. What are the other implications for advertising drugs to the public? Should Big Pharma be in charge of patient and doctor education? How can a dangerous practice be improved?


Using a spokesperson/testimonial framework, a “man on the street” or a celebrity praises the product or service. The spokesperson who endorses the product need not be famous. A testimonial features an everyday consumer to whom the target audience can relate. This representative consumer praises the product or describes his experience with it. The framework implies that if the product worked for this person, it will work for you.

Star Power

In the case of the celebrity, the reasoning is that if a famous person believes the product is good, you can believe it, too. For the advertising to be effective, however, the tie between the product and the celebrity should be clear. When Louis Vuitton featured Mikhail Gorbachev in an ad in Vogue, the tie was not clear. Why would the association with the former Soviet leader who brought an end to Communism motivate a consumer to buy a luxury brand bag?

This framework is effective because celebrities embody cultural meanings—they symbolize important categories such as status and social class (a “working-class hero”), gender (a “tough woman”), or personality types. Ideally, the advertiser decides what meanings the product should convey (that is, how it should position the item in the marketplace) and then chooses a celebrity who embodies a similar meaning. The product’s meaning thus moves from the manufacturer to the consumer, using the star as a vehicle. Grant McCracken, “Who Is the Celebrity Endorser? Cultural Foundations of the Endorsement Process,” Journal of Consumer Research 16, no. 3 (1989): 310–21.

For celebrity campaigns to be effective, the endorser must have a clear and popular image. In addition, the celebrity’s image and that of the product he or she endorses should be similar—researchers refer to this as the match-up hypothesis. Michael A. Kamins, “An Investigation into the ‘Match-Up’ Hypothesis in Celebrity Advertising: When Beauty May Be Only Skin Deep,” Journal of Advertising 19, no. 1 (1990): 4–13; Basil G. Englis, Michael R. Solomon, and Richard D. Ashmore, “Beauty Before the Eyes of Beholders: The Cultural Encoding of Beauty Types in Magazine Advertising and Music Television,” Journal of Advertising 23 (June 1994): 49–64.

A market research company developed one widely used measure called the Q-score (Q stands for quality) https://www.qscores.com/default.aspx  to decide if a celebrity will make a good endorser. The score includes the level of familiarity with a name and the number of respondents who indicate that a person, program, or character is a favorite. Kevin E. Kahle and Lynn R. Kahle, “Sports Celebrities’ Image: A Critical Evaluation of the Utility of Q Scores” (working paper, University of Oregon, 2005).

A good match-up is crucial; fame alone doesn’t work if people know someone but dislike him. The celebrity may bring the brand visibility, but that visibility can be overshadowed by the controversy that the spokesperson can generate. It also helps when your spokesperson actually uses the product. The Beef Board faced negative publicity when its spokesperson, Cybill Shepherd, admitted she did not like to eat beef. Because consumers tend to view the brand through the lens of its spokesperson, an advertiser can’t choose an endorser just based on a whim (or the person’s good looks).

Many celebrities own interests in companies they endorse. Should a spokesperson be required to divulge a financial interest in a company she endorses?


Celebrities can be effective endorsers, but there are drawbacks to using them. As we previously noted, their motives may be suspect if they plug products that don’t fit their images or if consumers begin to see them as never having met a product they didn’t like (for a fee). They may be involved in a scandal or upset customers in other ways. Can you think of any examples of celebrities behaving in a way inconsistent with the brands they endorse?

For these reasons, some marketers seek alternative sources, including cartoon characters and mascots. Researchers report that spokescharacters like the Pillsbury Doughboy, Chester the Cheetah, and the Snuggle Bear do in fact boost viewers’ recall of claims that ads make and also yield a higher brand attitude. Judith A. Garretson and Scot Burton, “The Role of Spokescharacters as Advertisement and Package Cues in Integrated Marketing Communications,” Journal of Marketing 69 (October 2005): 118–32.

From gecko to the doughboy, virtual characters have enjoyed great success. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies improve each year. An avatar is an alternative to flesh-and-blood endorsers. This word is a Hindu term for a deity that appears in superhuman or animal form. In the computing world, it means a character you can move around inside a visual, graphical world. Some advertisers turn to avatars that can come to life on Web sites and in virtual worlds like Second Life. As one example of a company that designs avatars to represent brands or companies, check out http://www.sitepal.com.


A demonstration framework shows the product in use to illustrate its performance and effectiveness. Television and video are the best media for demonstrations. This framework is a favorite for cleaning products of all kinds (household, laundry, automotive) and to showcase the unique benefits of traditional products. Just think about all those crazy gadgets you see on TV infomercials—“It slices, it dices, it washes your car…”

Slice-of-Life Framework

A slice-of-life framework presents everyday people in an everyday situation, like riding in a car with friends. Wal-Mart used this kind of execution in a commercial that showed a young family going on vacation. The bored kids torment each other in the minivan until they finally arrive in Orlando. The title card then explains what you’ve seen: “Wal-Mart saves the average family $2,500 a year. What will you do with your savings?” The value proposition is clear: shopping at Wal-Mart throughout the year will save you enough money for a vacation. The spot ends with the slogan: “Save money. Live better.”Bob Garfield, “Long-Awaited Wal-Mart Ads are Obvious…Yet Brilliant,” Advertising Age, September 17, 2007, 69.

Andrea Learned, co-author of the book Don’t Think Pink: What Really Makes Women Buy has found that when selling cars to women, slice-of-life frameworks are the most effective. The best car ads show “average-looking” women and men in slice-of-life situations. “Women respond when an advertiser fits the car into consumers’ lifestyles instead of putting it on a sporty pedestal with overly gorgeous models,” she explained. Quoted in Joan Voight, “The Lady Means Business,” Brandweek, April 10, 2006, 28.

Have any slice of life ads created an impression in your mind?


An executional framework defines how the ad is structured. Like advertising appeals, different frameworks are appropriate to different advertising contexts. These include lifestyle, scientific, testimonial, demonstration, and slice-of-life.


  1. List and briefly characterize the five executional frameworks that provide an advertisement’s structure.
  2. Describe why “star power” is important to the advertiser.
  3. Explain how an avatar can be used to connect with a target audience.

12.4 The Creative Team


After studying this section, students should be able to do the following:

  1. Characterize the members of an advertising creative team.
  2. Explain how copywriters use various literary forms and devices to construct the advertising message.

Ads use both words and images—indeed, all the senses. Achieving this result requires close cooperation within the creative team between copywriting and art direction.


Copywriters create a memorable and motivating text that will be spoken or written within the ad. Because short headlines and copy are generally more effective, copywriters must make each word contribute to the ad’s goals.

What’s in a Word?

The copywriter works with the art director to develop the concept for the ad. Copywriters must understand the meanings (both plain and hidden) behind words. For example, words like “new” are used a lot in ads because they capture our attention and pique our curiosity. Other words, such as “don’t miss” and “urgent,” arouse fear, while “how to” promises practical advice.

Words have the power to shape our reality in fundamental and often unrecognized ways. Words can convey facts, create musical poetry, re-create history, command action, plead, and paint pictures. Copywriting makes use of the language centers of the brain to instill emotion and create memories. The copy works with the image to create and shape beliefs, values, attitudes, or actions. Copywriters also work on the pacing and sounds of words to reinforce the message and emotional tone.

An art director and copywriter often work collaboratively to create a piece, but in many agencies where people wear multiple hats, the perspectives of a copywriter must be held by all who work on an ad.

Literary Forms and Devices

Advertisers structure commercials like other art forms; they borrow conventions from literature and art to communicate. {Cf. Linda M. Scott, “The Troupe: Celebrities as Dramatis Personae in Advertisements,” in Advances in Consumer Research 18, ed. Rebecca H. Holman and Michael R. Solomon (Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research, 1991), 355–63; Barbara Stern, “Literary Criticism and Consumer Research: Overview and Illustrative Analysis,” Journal of Consumer Research 16 (1989): 322–34; Judith Williamson, Decoding Advertisements (Boston: Marion Boyars, 1978); John Deighton, Daniel Romer, and Josh McQueen, “Using Drama to Persuade,” Journal of Consumer Research 16 (December 1989): 335–43.}

Two important structures are dramas and lectures (you’re certainly familiar with that one!). A lecture is like a speech; the communicator addresses the audience directly to inform them about a product or persuade them to buy it. In contrast, a drama is similar to a play or movie. Whereas an argument holds the viewer at arm’s length, a drama draws the viewer into the action. The characters only indirectly address the audience; they interact with each other about a product or service in an imaginary setting. Dramas attempt to be experiential—to involve the audience emotionally. In transformational advertising, the consumer associates the experience of product usage with some subjective sensation.

Advertising creatives also rely (consciously or not) on literary devices to communicate these meanings. For example, characters like Mr. Goodwrench, the Jolly Green Giant, and Charlie the Tuna may personify a product or service. Many ads take the form of an allegory; a story about an abstract trait or concept that a person, animal, or vegetable symbolizes or associates.

A metaphor places two dissimilar objects into a close relationship such that “A is B,” whereas a simile compares two objects, “A is like B.” A and B, however dissimilar, share some quality that the metaphor highlights. Metaphors allow the marketer to activate meaningful images and apply them to everyday events. In the stock market, “white knights” battle “hostile raiders” using “poison pills” while Tony the Tiger equates cereal with strength. Barbara B. Stern, “Medieval Allegory: Roots of Advertising Strategy for the Mass Market,” Journal of Marketing 52 (July 1988): 84–94.

Art Direction

The term “art direction” goes beyond choosing or creating images that go into marketing communications. It is more encompassing and holistic; a good art director blends the elements of an ad into a powerful message that strongly resonates with the viewer.

The art director is the chief designer of the ad. She is responsible not only for creating the visuals but also for deciding how the message will communicate the desired mood, product qualities, and psychological appeals. In addition to the illustrations in an ad (photo, cartoon, drawing), the art director uses principles of design to unify the elements of the ad and direct our attention to the point of emphasis.

Art direction has grown in importance as advertising has become more visual. Pictures tell a story more quickly than words, and they let advertisers put the brand in a social context, which links the brand to certain “types” of people or lifestyles. Most art directors would argue rightly that this position has a heavily outweighed influence on the success of the ad and the success of the campaign.


Copywriters and art directors turn intangible ideas into tangible realities. The messages they create that use words or images capture the essence of the advertising strategy and translate it into something that the target understands—and hopefully resonates with.


  1. Describe the copywriter’s responsibility in advertising.
  2. List and describe the literary forms and devices that can be used in advertising.
  3. Describe the art director’s responsibility in advertising.

12.5 Exercises


Now that you have read this chapter, you should be able to determine how to choose the right media for client messages:

  • You can identify and define the two keys to superior advertising.
  • You can provide illustrations of relevance and resonance.
  • You can explain why having an emotional connection is the common denominator for most successful ads.
  • You can list and describe the five factors that comprise the likeability of an ad.
  • You can list and discuss five advertising appeals that a creative team can use to structure advertising.
  • You can provide illustrations of the five advertising appeals.
  • You can recall the six categories of values that are universal in advertising.
  • You can compare and contrast the five types of executional frameworks.
  • You can characterize “star power” and its usefulness to advertising.
  • You can characterize the members of an advertising creative team.
  • You can classify the various literary forms and devices used by copywriters to create advertisements.



Do you remember what a Q-score is? A Q-score is a way to measure the familiarity and appeal of a brand, company, celebrity, cartoon character, or television show. The higher the Q-score, the more likely the subject measured is familiar and appealing to viewers. See Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q_Score or http://www.qscores.com for more information on the useful application of Q-scores.

After exploring information about Q-scores via your online connections, select three to five subjects and obtain their Q-scores. If you are unable to find the scores for some of your subjects, either choose other subjects or estimate what you think the score might be (be sure to put “est.” after any such score). Once you have your Q-score list, match each of your subjects to at least one product line. Note how the Q-scored subject would be an asset to the advertising for that product line. Explain your rationale and justification for your picks. Discuss the findings of this assignment.


  1. Go to your favorite Web sites that contain advertising and find at least one example of relevance and resonance in the advertising. Explain why you believe your choices match for the two terms.
  2. Go to at least one favorite magazine and find an illustration of an advertisement that makes an emotional connection with its readers or viewers. Clearly explain how this connection is made. It is OK to use yourself as an example; however, be specific in your description of how the emotional connection was made. What magazine elements were used to make an emotional connection?
  3. Go to at least one favorite magazine and find an advertisement that would rate high on your likeability scale. Using the factors listed in the chapter that constitute the likeability of an ad, illustrate how well your ad embodies each of these five factors. Next, take an ad that you like somewhat, but not as much as your first choice. Illustrate how, by using the five factors, you could make the second ad more likable. Explain your thinking and illustrations.
  4. According to this chapter, copywriters use literary forms and devices to structure commercials. Take the terms lecture, drama, allegory, metaphor, and simile and find examples of them in specific ads from magazines you read, television shows you watch, and online browsing and surfing experiences. List the phrase from the chosen ads and indicate why the phrase matches one of the terms. Please provide a brief description of the ad itself. Comment on the importance of word choice in copywriting.


The preceding was edited from Advertising Campaigns: Start to Finish: Chapter 12 Tell the Brand Story

(Original Creative Commons text: https://2012books.lardbucket.org/books/advertising-campaigns-start-to-finish/s15-make-the-message-sell-ss-k-ens.html)


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Organizational Communication COMM 3893 & MGT 3123 Copyright © 2017 by Julie Zink, Ph.D is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book