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Sexy alone can't sell, it all depends on set-up for ad

June 16, 2011 - Washington

The effectiveness of using attractive models in advertising or other promotional activities depends on how this attractiveness is used in the design of these activities, according to a new research.

The authors found that the looks matter most when an attractive person serves as a cue just before an ad with attractive products.

"When beauty is used as a cue, the attractiveness of the person is likely to have a relatively general impact and affect evaluations of advertised as well as non-advertised products," they write.

When an attractive person and the advertised product are explicitly linked in the same visual frame, consumers respond in a more specific fashion, and just the evaluations of the advertised products are affected, says the study.

"Sometimes attractive endorsers increase persuasion, sometimes they decrease persuasion, and sometimes they have no effect at all," write authors Janne van Doorn and Diederik A. Stapel (both Tilburg University, the Netherlands). In four experiments, the authors demonstrated that context is everything when it comes to evaluating the role of the attractive spokesperson.

Finally, when endorser attractiveness is used as an argument (for a beauty-related product, for example), it hardly makes an impact on consumers who do not believe in improvement of their appearance, the authors concluded.

The study has been published in the Journal of Consumer Research.


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