Persuasive Advertising: Meaning and Examples

Advertising is growing more reliant on persuasion. One key reason is that competitors find it simpler to destroy whatever functional or pricing advantage a product may have. A company may still benefit from a well-established distribution system that is difficult to replicate. However, distributors' goodwill and preferences can be undermined by changes in their purchasing practices or a fall in customer demand for the product. Companies are trying to reactivate long-neglected techniques of reaching the customer, such as sports sponsorship, billboards, and movies wherever people are waiting, whether at airports or physicians' waiting rooms.

Persuasive Advertising

Persuasive advertising is a marketing message that uses persuasion to promote a product or service. Its goal is to influence a consumer's favorable opinion about a product, culminating in a purchase. The sheer weight of reasoning persuades a buyer to purchase the goods. Advertising income is critical to the survival of the world's mass media. Every product on the planet finds a way to reach out to purchasers through the media. Marketers have discovered the value of compelling messaging in all forms of media activity.

Features of Persuasive Advertising

  • It is product marketing in which the consumer is persuaded of the worth of the product.

  • It is not selling since the customer is not forced to buy a thing but is persuaded to do so.

  • In this case, the consumer makes his or her own decision based on an advertisement in favor of a product.

  • The information provided is both informal and persuasive.

  • It helps customers to link good feelings with things.

  • It persuades customers to stick with the brand in the face of competition.

  • Its goal is to attract attention, keep it there, and develop a desire for the product to adopt the new behavior.

Social psychologists have sought to examine psychological differences among media consumers by changing media settings and messages to various audiences. Psychologists sought to understand the psychological variations amongst audience members, while sociologists investigated the influence of media on various social categories. The 1940 presidential election in the United States demonstrated the limited persuasive skills of modern media.

According to research on the presidential election, opinion leaders are more influential in convincing individuals through interpersonal methods. This resulted in the presentation of the two-step flow theory of communication. It then evolved into multi-step flow theory. Advertising and public relations, both ancillary professions of mass communication, use persuasive techniques to affect various sectors of the media audience. These two professions excel in strategic communication.

Strategic Communication as Persuasion Strategy

Strategic communication is a comprehensive study comprising advertising, public relations, marketing, and corporate communication. It involves integrating communication activities into a master plan to achieve corporate objectives. It is spreading communications through proper means in order to reach the desired audience. 'Strategic communications is the coordinated use of communication channels to change and influence public policy or to promote an agenda' (Emily Tynes).

It is a purposeful, methodical approach to meeting the agenda through communication. The emphasis is increasingly on making communication successful. Hence persuasion becomes more critical in strategic communication. Advertising and public relations both use many persuasive communication tactics. They are defined as mediated communication or messaging to persuade diverse publics to embrace a new idea, attitude, or behavior.

Persuasive communication is historically assigned to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, whose famous book Rhetoric deals with the subject. Classical rhetoricians used a variety of rhetorical tactics to communicate their ideas effectively. Rhetoric differed from logic and philosophy in that it was not concerned with the truth of a thing. The only goal was to see if it could persuade the intended audience. It is said that there are at least twenty theories connected to persuasive communication and audience decision-making. The theories provide us with an understanding of the numerous persuasive communication models and tactics. They substantially assist advertising and public relations practitioners in developing and promoting strategic campaigns across several media platforms.

All persuasive communication theories have three essential parts in a connecting chain: the public, the media, and strategic communicators. The connection is divided into three parts −

  • People's behaviors or actions are partially tied to their cognition - information or beliefs influence attitudes and emotions.

  • Mediated communication influences cognition and affects behavioral change to some extent.

  • Mediated communication campaigns can be planned to cause the desired cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes.

AIDA Model

AIDA-attention/awareness, interest, desire, and action-is a popular concepts based on these three statements. From the standpoint of an advertiser, it is a hierarchical step-down process. The first stage is to attract attention or raise awareness, which should lead to the following stage of developing interest. As the person's attention is caught and interest is maintained, he or she advances to the want stage for the product or service. He or she will progress from the desire to desire for the product or service. S/he will progress from the stage of desire to the stage of action. A variety of elements influence the chain or process of mediated persuasion. Here are a few examples −

  • Media Difference

  • Message Features

  • Audience Fragmentation

  • Individual Characteristics

The Media Difference Factor denotes how the characteristics of each media differ. For example, you can see the changes when you compare print to electronic media. Print media deals with space, whereas electronic media deals with time. The presenting style varies. Similarly, we distinguish between interactive and passive media. The features of communication are its attributes. Message attributes include, for example, complexity, the extent of believability, emotionality, and the quality of the information provided. The current fast proliferation of media in terms of numbers and interests has fragmented the audience, resulting in a small audience for each channel or medium.

Persuasion for Social Change

Can persuasive communication be used to effect societal change? According to studies, the media has the power to affect societal change. Reasonable social goals can be attained at both the individual and societal levels. Consider a public service effort to encourage individuals to quit smoking. Most early television research was conducted to determine the ability of mediated messages to convince audiences to accept them. Initially, the emphasis concentrated on how media may impact the audience. As a result, the following elements were discovered to impact media influence −

Between 1946 and 1961, Yale University's Carl Hovland, Irving Janis, and Harold H. Kelley performed research on Communication and Mindset Modification. Of course, they researched in a controlled laboratory rather than the media field. Their goal was to manipulate aspects such as message, source, and others, resulting in the function of stimulus-response in shaping audience attitudes.

According to their findings, the source's trustworthiness is a crucial aspect that influences the persuasiveness of the media message. More excellent experience and trustworthiness imply more compelling when compared to someone whose competence is constantly called into doubt. An item published in a well-known and reputable publication is deemed more reliable than one written by a gossip columnist.

The researchers also discovered several message characteristics that might influence a communication's persuasiveness. People respond to strong terror appeals. It was also discovered that the message's structure should be considered. Nonetheless, it must fit snugly within the receptor. Hovland and colleagues discovered that audience elements such as personality traits, group identification, and the degree of audience engagement in the message impacted its persuasiveness. The agenda-setting process, particularly the role of newspapers in creating the principal agenda of problems, has been explored. Television also has a role in determining the priority of agenda topics assigned for public discussion.


Academics and professionals alike have found the phenomena of persuasion to be fascinating. Persuasion strategies are used by advertising and public relations professionals today to elicit favorable responses and maximize profit. McGuire developed a linear model of persuasion that included independent factors such as source, message, channel, receiver, and destination characteristics. In persuasive communication, the communicator's credibility is critical.

Time and credibility level also have a relationship. Advertisements have frequently employed fear appeals. They are thought to be attitude shifters. To a limited extent, increased fear may result in a message-consistent mindset. With extremely anxious folks, lower fear appeals are more effective. Advertising messaging may contain elements of deception.

Updated on: 30-Mar-2023


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