In the context of marketing promotion, consumers are known as the target of assorted persuasion attempts from marketers such as advertisements, personal selling, and product placement. In response to this, consumers have developed their individual knowledge to interpret the persuasion messages, detect the underlying motives and goals, and judge how tactics are being used.
One of the key marketing issues is understand the mechanism of consumers’ persuasion knowledge and for this several theories have been developed over time. In this report, an integrated model known as persuasion knowledge model (PKM) will be further introduced and employed as a framework to demonstrate how these theories can be applied to a TV commercial.
Libra Invisible Pad “Wonder Guy Man” Commercial- A Brief Overview
SCA Hygiene Australia has launched a “Wonder Guy Man” TV commercial in February, 2010, promoting Libra Invisible Pad-a female care product. A humorous slice-of-life story in line with hilarious acting created a comedy-like yet convincing scene telling the message that Libra Invisible Pad can “stay in place” with the body, in spite of any kinds of motions.
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Together with an unfortunate coincidence in the end, meeting the girlfriend’s parents with Wonder Guy Man costume on-works to reinforce the humorous effect. The success of the commercial is it gives people such an entertaining experience yet can integrate the brand name naturally and smoothly into the story by the girlfriend’s complaint, “Got mum and dad…and you’ve got my Libra Invisible Pads.”
To begin with, featuring a bored young man alone in the living room; discovering a new way to use a female sanitary product, this commercial tries to take a casual and light-hearted angle to view this somewhat forbidden topic-this gives this brand a relatively unique image among the clutter. In addition to that, the commercial concentrates on the funny acting and facial expressions of the male actor, to amuse the views, which helps people to pay attention and thus boosts the brand awareness.
Secondly, the pads are attached everywhere on the man’s clothes, arms, and head when he mimicking a “Wonder Guy Man” in the fiction. Instead of straightforwardly praising the new features or explaining in detail the design of the pad, this commercial uses an indirect theme as a guy discovering a new usage of the pads, to prove the product is of good quality so it can stay there when you play.
Most importantly, the functional benefit and the unique brand image of the female product is effectively conveyed and vividly shown by an untraditional yet easy to accept; bold yet entertaining approach, which makes even some of those male audiences feel at a certain level attached to this TV ad. In short, this commercial is entertaining, innovative, informative and convincing.
Persuasion Knowledge Model-Concept and Application
According to Friestad and Wright (1994), the persuasion knowledge model entails both parties in the market- the consumer as the target and the marketer as the agent, and focuses on how consumers’ persuasion knowledge influences their response to agents’ persuasion attempt in the persuasion episodes. What triggers the exercise of knowledge is the fact that consumers have their own goals to achieve, and they recognise to succeed in this they have to strategically interact with marketers since marketers have their own goals as well.
Campbell and Kirmani(2008) further suggest that cognitive resources, accessibility of motives, and persuasion expertise are required for consumers to employ their persuasion knowledge effectively. In other words, consumers need sufficient mental capacity to think (e.g. not overwhelmed by loud music at the store), adequate reasons to further detect the concealed motive (e.g. sales staff too strongly recommend a certain brand), or accumulated life experience (e.g. mature in age), to activate their own PK and use it confidently during the persuasion episode. And the practice of persuasion knowledge could result in favourable or unfavourable attitudes, judgements and decisions towards the agents/marketers.
Meyers-Levy and Malaviya (1999) have introduced an integrated PKM proposing three types of possible strategies in using persuasion knowledge-systematic, heuristic, and experiential-depending on how much cognitive resources allocated(ELM theory) or sensation generated. Implications of this theory in media selection and visual element usage in each type are introduced. Moreover, the influence of relevant/irrelevant picture placement in printed advertisement as persuasion attempt was tested and measured by its appropriateness and relevance. (Miniard et al. 1991)
PKM depicts that a consumer’s persuasion knowledge which shapes their coping behaviour includes three types of knowledge-persuasion, agent, and topic, which will be discussed in detail by following sections.
Persuasion knowledge can be described by the consumers’ beliefs about marketers’ motives, marketers’ tactics and their own coping tactics, effectiveness of marketers’ tactics, appropriateness of marketers’ tactics, marketers’ goal and consumers’ goal. For example, a consumer may perceive the underlying motive for price discount is because the retailer is eager to get rid of the inventory of old generations before the launch of latest one. Then he or she may evaluate if this price promotion is compelling enough to encourage them to take this offer. After this, this customer may evaluate the retailer’s persuasion goals-appearing to be the one offering the best deal in town and manage its own image in this promotion without showing any insincerity or sceptical motives, and his own coping goals-maintaining the most rationality and not falling for any selling tricks. And finally, does consumer think it is right or wrong, in other words, if it is ethical to dump those almost immediately outdated inventory to consumers with unreasonably low price.
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Evidence of this can be found in Libra’s commercial. In this ad, the young man-a likable and entertaining character, the exaggerative acting and hilarious sounds, forming a humorous event in life to evoke emotional reactions and grab the attention of consumers. In my point of view, the deliberate arrangement of demonstrating a sanitary product with a funny male actor can be seen as a bold, fresh and acceptable way to its target audiences. Yet this ad may be regarded as indecent, offensive-inappropriate to some other conservative TV viewers. Then the viewer may infer what the advertiser wants to achieve by this commercial, and how well is this intension achieved. My opinion is that the brand is aimed at building a casual and close-to-life image by this humorous and slice-of-life ad, trying to make itself look somewhat different among plenty of other brands with similar function. To me, this result is very successful since Libra has become the only brand name I can recall after this commercial. Lastly, the consumer’s personal coping goal can be to manage the understanding about the tactics of humorous appeal ads, to revise their impression to Libra, or the experiential benefits from watching this commercial-simply want to be amused between TV programs.
Topic knowledge refers to consumers’ understanding of the relevant content and area, such as their specific expertise in the product or subject being discussed or promoted. For example, a consumer who works as a professional photographer will hold much wider topic knowledge about digital cameras than others knowing merely about how to press the button and shot. If this Libra commercial is watched by a male audience, who suppose to have neither experience in using nor purchasing the pads, thus to some extend his topic knowledge is more limited to participate in the coping behaviours in the persuasion episode-the Libra pad commercial. He may need extra efforts to accumulate this knowledge so as to fully appreciate the tactics being used. On the other hand, the topic knowledge of adult female viewers can be accumulated from personal experience and from familiarity of the features a pad could have.
Finally, the agent knowledge specifies consumers’ general comprehension about the marketers, such as their impression of the brand or the advertiser, the perceived reputation and familiarity of the company, the characteristics and personal relationship with the salesperson. For example, a consumer who works in a famous consumer brand company may obtain specific agent knowledge about it since the brand is particularly familiar to him. A consumer who has heard of the bribing scandal may perceive a general unfavourable impression, thus develops some level of negative agent knowledge toward that specific bank. A Consumer watching Libra pad commercial may have the developed knowledge that Libra is a well-known international brand, the company that manufactures the product is a hundred percent Australian-owned and emphasises CSR (company social responsibility), the agent who made this commercial is Clemenger BBDO Melbourne, also an Australia-based company under BBDO Worldwide-right after he has done a substantial investigation for a marketing communication assignment.
One of the essential tasks for today’s market communicators is to understand how a consumer’s persuasion, topic, and agent knowledge interact to influence one’s own coping behaviour. By drawing on a Libra pad TV commercial, this report gave a brief introduction of the concepts regarding persuasion knowledge model, and further illustrated how persuasion knowledge was activated and exercised by a consumer in the process of a persuasion episode.
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