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How advertising ‘works’ is still not agreed upon in spite of over 100 years of advertising research. Summarise what you feel to be the main issues in this debate and critically evaluate some of the ways they have been investigated.

How advertising ‘works’ is still not agreed upon in spite of over 100 years of advertising research. Summarise what you feel to be the main issues in this debate and critically evaluate some of the ways they have been investigated.
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The theme: ‘How advertising ‘works’ is still not agreed upon in spite of over 100 years of advertising research. Summarise what you feel to be the main issues in this debate and critically evaluate some of the ways they have been investigated.’; the subject: Advertising and Promotion.
How advertising ‘works’ is still not agreed upon in spite of over 100 years of advertising research. Summarise what you feel to be the main issues in this debate and critically evaluate some of the ways they have been investigated.
Advertising remains an enigma in spite of its 100-year history of practice, thought and research. Its social role, for good or ill, is hotly contested. Even though most of us are very used to seeing advertisements, some advertisements still have a capacity to generate offence and provoke debate around advertising’s moral values and social influence. As consumers, we do not agree about advertising. From the practitioner side, too, there are stark disagreements about how, and indeed if, advertising ‘works’ (see Vakratsas and Ambler, 1999); in what ways it influences consumers (or doesn’t) (Ehrenberg et al., 2002); and on how advertising budgets should be spent most efficiently. Academic theories tend to complicate rather than clarify practitioner debates about advertising’s practical consequences. It must be admitted, though, that the advertising industry has enjoyed global growth and influence on a huge scale in spite of uncertainty about its theoretical foundations.
There are political currents around advertising which shape the kinds of discourse, and the kinds of research, which go on. Advertising has to serve many stakeholders, including main board executives, shareholders, advertising agencies, consumers, regulators, governments and citizens. It applies in many different situations. As a communication form it is complex, since it can combine music, visual imagery and written or spoken words in a huge variety of narrative forms and on a wide range media channels. It speaks to a variety of quite different demographic, ethnic, socio-economic and lifestyle groups. The idea that advertising ‘works’ in one way in all conditions is clearly an oversimplification. Practitioners seem to manage well enough without theory. Agencies, though, are always looking for a competitive edge and theory often lends itself to claims that one agency can deliver better value for the client’s advertising  budget. Cornelissen and Lock (2002) have argued that theoretical developments in advertising do influence practice, not always by changing it but by supplying new conceptual vocabularies to articulate practice.
One of the most intractable problems facing advertising theorists has been finding a popular and accessible way to theorize both its explicit and implicit elements. Human face-to-face communication has been shown to be about the gestures, vocal tone, emotional timbre, poise and gravitas, facial expression and social context, as well as about the verbal content. The speeches of American President Barack Obama have excited renewed interest in the classical arts of oratory and rhetoric, and offer contemporary evidence that the force of communication lies as much in what is implicit, as in what is explicit verbal content. Words are important; they are the infrastructure around which persuasive arguments are built. But what listeners take from such communication is not determined solely by the words, by any means.
The importance of implicit in communication may seem self-evident, yet the concept which has dominated research in advertising has been the idea of a clear, explicit, verbalized and unproblematic ‘message’. Of what, though, this message is comprised is hard to say. As noted above, advertising can be seen as a form of ‘social communication’ (Leiss et al., 2005) which operates on many dimensions. As a complex communication form, advertising can be understood not only in terms of an engineering model of ‘information’ transmission, but also in terms of a vehicle of meaning which is interpreted in symbolic ways by different audiences (McCracken, 1987: Sherry, 1987).
Advertising theory, both practitioner and academic, has tended to privilege the verbalized content of promotional ‘messages’ and underplay the elements of communication which are implicit, or those to which conscious attention is not paid (Heath and Feldwick, 2008). One reason for this is that it is, simply, easier to conceive of advertising as a verbal message which is processed consciously by individual receivers. Another reason is that acknowledging the implicit elements of advertising and promotion opens up controversial issues of ‘subliminal’ or hidden influence. Much advertising theory has been conceived with one eye on the latent public unease articulated by Vance Packard’s (1957) idea of advertisers as ‘hidden persuaders’ engaged in a sinister and underhand manipulation (Hackley, 2007). A focus on the rational, the conscios and the verbal, deflects the charge of manipulation quite neatly, but at the considerable price of over-simplifying the subject matter.
-The Body
The surprising thing about advertising theory is that, in spite of the volume of academic and practitioner research, significant elements of it have changed little in a century. It is widely held by both practitioners and academics that advertising works best by delivering a unique persuasive informational message. Rosser Reeves assertion that ‘Advertising is the art of getting a unique selling proposition into the heads of the most people at the lowest possible cost’ (1961: 121) is mirrored nearly 40 years later by Duncan & 2 Moriarty in Advertising Age, who describe advertising as ‘… one-way communication: creating and sending messages…’ (1999). The USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is the single thing that gives the consumer a reason to buy. The proposition is based around this reason to buy, and should be the unequivocal message a consumer interprets from the advertisement. The ‘proposition’ is still the key concept in the creative advertising development process today (Heath and Feldwick, 2008).
Regrading the first formal advertising model, it was probably A-I-D-A (Attention-Interest-Desire-Action) theory, attributed to E. St. Elmo Lewis in 1898 (Strong 1925). The A-I-D-A model for personal selling, adapted to advertising, remains by far the most influential theory in the field. Before examining A-I-D-A in more detail, it is worth outlining the information processing tradition in advertising communication theory.
Information Processing Theory in Advertising
The Shannon-Weaver Communication model
‘Information processing’ is a term which sums up a vast tradition of advertising theory. It encompasses not only a theory of communication but also a theory of human cognition. There are many variations of the information processing theme, but they all share key assumptions about human communication, persuasion and advertising. The information processing model was originally devised to model the mathematical efficiency of technical communication channels (Shannon, 1948; Weaver and Shannon, 1963). Applied to human communication, the theory assumes that humans ‘process’ data in much the same way as computers or other machines. It is also called the ‘transmission’ model since data are transmitted to the receiver. There are many variations on the model but its basic components remain the same. There is a sender, or a ‘source’, and a receiver. The message is encoded into a form which allows transmission, then is sent via a medium or channel of communication to be decoded by the receiver. There is a feedback loop in the model, so that it can be determined whether or not the message was efficiently delivered. If the message was encoded accurately, and transmitted via the correct medium, the only reason for miscommunication would be ‘noise’, which refers to anything which interferes with the transmission or decoding/encoding process.
Whether the classic information processing model is appropriate for human communication is a highly contested matter. Nevertheless, in most marketing textbooks and those of many other disciplines including communication studies, it is reproduced faithfully and presented as if none of its key elements nor its founding metaphor are in any way problematic.
The Transmission Model and Mass Communication
The ‘transmission’ model of communication was adopted and adapted by many disciplines, especially by mass communication theorists such as Schramm (1948), Katz and Lazarsfeld (1955), Lazarsfeld (1941) and Lasswell (1948). It is easy to see how the analogy could apply to advertising. An advertisement can be conceived as a message, especially if one refers to the ideas of Kennedy and Hopkins. The message, conceived as the proposition, has to be encoded by the sender (the advertising agency creative team) into a form which will be decoded successfully by the receiver, who is of course the consumer. Encoding will put the message into a form in which communication is possible on the available media channles. In Kennedy’s day, this would consist of print advertising. With the development of broadcast media it would be possible to include sound and moving pictures. The receiver has to decode the same message which the adertisers encoded into the communication in order to retrieve the meaning intended.
The surrounding environment may have ‘noise’ of various forms that distracts from the message. Noise can be construed metaphorically as anything that might disrupt the communication by, say, distracting the attention of the receiver. In an aural communication it may be literal noise that disrupts the communicative process. With visual communications such as roadside advertising posters sites, noise may be all the activities of an urban road that might distract a person’s attention form the poster, such as pedestrians, cars, shops, stray dogs or whatever.
This simple conceptualization has many descriptive uses. It has been a mainstay of marketing communications and advertising texts because of its economy and descriptive scope. It can be applied to almost any communications scenario and will have a degree of applicability. As noted above, the idea of the ‘proposition’ based on a verbalized message which the advertiser wants the individual consumer to take away from the advertisement still drives most creative briefs. As a practical construct it has proved most effective. But as a theoretical explanation for what is happening in advertising communication it has its limitations. A model is no more than a textual representation that captures by analogy some, but by no means all, of the features of the phenomenon it purports to represent. In other words, models as theoretical representations have weaknesses. Before discussing these in more detail, though, we will revisit the A-I-D-A model of persuasive advertising communication. This maps easily onto the classic information processing model of communication because of its linearity and its cognitive focus, and has generated a host of variations which fall under the category ‘hierarchy-of-effects theories’ in advertising.
A-I-D-A and Hierarchy-of-Effects Theories
The classic information processing model of communication provided theoretical support for Strong’s (1925) A-I-D-A model of persuasion in selling encounters as mentioned above. Simply, the idea is that the consumer’s attention is required for a sale to take place. Following that, the salesperson has to generate interest in order to keep that attention. The next stage in the persuasive process is to elicit a desire for the product or service being sold. Finally, the action required is a sale.
The A-I-D-A model assumes that consumers are essentially indifferent to the offer and need to have their attention grabbed. After that, they (and we) have to be pushed along a continuum of persuasion until we buy the product. When the A-I-D-A model is conceived in terms of mass communication to thousands or millions of potential consumers through advertising, this process can be seen in terms of a gradual and incremental effect. As consumers we have many communications competing for our attention. If an advertiser wants to sell us a new product or service, then on this model they first have to get our attention. This could take many attempts – we might view an advertisement many times before we find ourselves sufficiently interested to pay explicit attention to it. Once we have done that it may take many more exposures, or even many more campaigns, to elicit our interest, evoke our desire for the brand, and finally to provoke us into actually acting on the message by purchasing the advertised brand.
The logic of A-I-D-A, extrapolated from a face-to-face sales conversation to a mass advertising market, takes the human consumer as an entity which is resistant to persuasion but susceptible to a successive accretion of persuasive inputs. In other words, we are persuaded to accept the sales message as our resistance is gradually undermined by the accumulation of messages. The ‘hierarchy-of-effect’ represents ‘compounding probabilities’ (Percy et al., 2001), as each step in the process is a necessary condition for the subsequent step. The ‘hierarchy-of-effects’ tradition has spawned many theories which are designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of campaign planning (Barry and Howard, 1990; Lavidge and Steiner, 1961; Rossiter et al., 1991; Vaughn, 1986).  + ??? ??????? ???.37, 39!

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