Purpose – In response to concerns regarding frequent uses of emotional appeals and endorsers in DTCA, this paper aims to investigate the relative effects of fear‐eliciting and non‐fear‐eliciting DTC ads on elaboration and attitude change regarding the drug and health issue, and evaluation of endorser credibility. Design/methodology/approach – A between‐subject experiment was conducted with 96 students in a large state university. Fear appeals and endorser credibility were manipulated via stimulus ads. Participants' responses on elaboration, attitudes, and behavior intentions after ad exposure were compared between fear and non‐fear conditions. In addition, the directions of influence among these variables and endorser credibility were examined via path analyses. Findings – Fear elicitation had little effect on the type of elaboration generated since the elaboration was dominated by message‐related (vs endorser‐related) thoughts. However, the fear‐eliciting ad affected brand‐related and health‐related outcomes differentially. It had positive influence on attitudes toward the health issue, but negative influence on ad attitudes. Furthermore, ad attitudes had little impact on brand attitudes or brand‐related behavior intentions when fear was elicited in the ad. Originality/value – Considering a paucity of research on the effects of emotional appeals and endorsers in DTCA, the authors' findings provide important insights for researchers and practitioners about how a specific emotion elicited in the ad has differential impact on brand‐related and health‐related outcomes and how the effectiveness of emotional appeals and endorser credibility can be maximized.
International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 30, 2012
Keywords: Direct‐to‐consumer pharmaceutical advertising; Fear appeal; Endorser credibility; Information processing; Attitude change; Advertising; Pharmaceuticals industry
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