When creating ads, how do advertisers know if their ad will be successful or not? The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion claims that there are two “routes” of persuasion (Petty, Barden & Wheeler, 2009). As part of this assignment, two different advertisements for the same vehicle were located online; each commercial is an advertisement that uses a different route of persuasion. I selected commercials that were both trying to persuade people to purchase a 2015 Chevrolet Equinox. The advertisements are located at the following URLs:
The first ad listed above (Ad 1) takes place at a car dealership in Eustis, Florida; as the commercial opens, the owner of the car dealership, explains that the dealership likes to provide choices, and he continues by describing that Chevy provides five choices in sports utility vehicles (SUVs). However, the commercial quickly moves to the dealership’s showroom floor where a sales representative is standing beside a shiny new car that he describes as the “top-selling Chevy Equinox” (Gannaway Chevrolet, 2015). As he continues, he provides a list of the vehicle’s features including a standard back-up camera, built-in Wi-Fi, a top safety record, and a lease under $ 200 per month (Gannaway Chevrolet, 2015). In trying to close the deal, five gentlemen from the dealership appear and explain that the buying experience at the dealership is even better than the price.
Meanwhile, the second ad is also designed to sell the same product, a 2015 Chevy Equinox; however, this commercial was developed for a car dealership in Warrenton, Virginia, and it takes a different approach as it attempts to persuade people to purchase the vehicle. As the ad opens, it shows a young woman putting loading a suitcase, hugging her parents, and driving away in a Chevy Equinox as the narrator says, “Your first time leaving home.” Next, a husband and his pregnant wife are shown inside their house as the narrator reports, “Your first baby;” then, they are seen loading a suitcase, driving away in a Chevy Equinox, and pulling up at the hospital. As the scene changes, a little girl exits a school building, runs to her mother’s open arms, and walks to a Chevy Equinox with her mother as the narrator explains, “Your first day of school.” Then, the narrator explains, “Whatever stage you’re in your life, Chevrolet has a line-up of sports utilities you can depend on. Lease this brand new 2015 Equinox for $ 189 a month” and the name and website of the Chevrolet dealership appear on the screen (Agency, 2015).
In the first advertisement, the central route to persuasion is used. As people consider the message in the central route to persuasion, they must participate in the process; they must have the motivation to listen to the message, have the interest to consider the message, and the ability to understand the message (Petty &Cacioppo, 1986). The message in the first ad was delivered by credible men; one was the owner of the car dealership, and the other one was an older gentleman that appeared knowledgeable and trustworthy as he made. The commercial was filled with facts about the vehicle; it mentioned specific features of the vehicle. In order for the commercial to persuade, the viewers must find that the content is pertinent to their needs. The commercial clearly articulated content that would interest nearly all drivers in 2015; for example, it explained that the car was a top safety pick, came with a back-up camera, built-in Wi-Fi, and it was less than $ 200 per month. The commercial expressed the value of the vehicle. It provided facts and credence that would draw the audience to the dealership if they were in the market for a new vehicle. Because the commercial provided facts that were logically expressed, it would persuade viewers who employ the central route of persuasion (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986).
In the second ad, the peripheral route to persuasion was employed. When considering the peripheral route to persuasion, people find that they are not persuaded by the ad content; instead, they find that their persuasion rests with something else (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). Specifically, ad two attempts to persuade people through the presentation of life events. For example, it shows a young woman moving out of her parents’ home, it shows an expectant couple, and it shows a child on the first day of school. Instead of focusing on the vehicle, the commercial concentrates its message on events that people may face during their lifetime. The ad serves to tell people that the Chevy Equinox is the vehicle that they need for all stages of their life. The ad does nothing to explain the vehicle and its features. Because this commercial lacked factual evidence about the car, it would persuade viewers who utilize the central route of persuasion (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986).
There are different factors that make each ad effective in persuading customers. For instance, an analytical customer would be drawn to ad one. People who are motivated will appreciate ad one. People who like to think will appreciate ad one. People who appreciate knowing a vehicle’s features will appreciate ad one (Aronson, Wilson, Akert & Sommers, 2016). However, for people who do not enjoy thinking, they will not like ad one or appreciate its message. Even people who like to think will not appreciate ad one if they have no interest in a new vehicle or the features being promoted within the commercial; additionally, the ad would not persuade them if they were distracted and not actively engaged with the commercial. Ad one was effective because it illustrated the benefits of the vehicle; it provided the message recipient with facts and authenticity. It will be effective as long as the viewer was listening and did not get distracted during the commercial.
Meanwhile, there are other factors that make the peripheral route to advertising an effective method. People who lack the ability to think and people who lack motivation will appreciate ad two; in other words, passive people will appreciate ad two because they would not be willing to think about messages that are presented with the central route to persuasion (Aronson, Wilson, Akert & Sommers, 2016). Ad two offered a number of different stages in a person’s life to illustrate when the Equinox would be an ideal vehicle. People influenced by peripheral route to persuasion are influenced when messages are interesting to them; they are not as concerned about facts and figures. Ad two will appeal to people who are influenced by the peripheral route to persuasion because the ad required little involvement on their part as they viewed the commercial; it allowed the viewer to remain passive as the message was delivered. The message was packaged up neatly; it was interesting and attractive. A person watching this version of the ad may decide to buy the car, but it was not because of the car’s features; instead, this person would have been persuaded because he liked the events of the commercial and felt an emotional connection with the commercial. Ad two did not rely on information that was central to the merits of the Equinox to influence the viewer.
Different types of advertisements tend to impact attitude changes in different ways. When an ad utilizes the central route to persuasion, it requires that the viewer is motivated and paying attention. If the viewer is engaged and the argument presented in the advertisement is considered compelling by the viewer, the ad has the ability to influence the viewer. The viewer can develop an attitude change, and it can be a long-last effect (Aronson, Wilson, Akert & Sommers, 2016). In this ad, a one-sided message was presented, and it explained the benefits of the Equinox. As long as the viewer was interested and engaged, this ad possessed a strong and convincing message; thus, it should result in a change in attitudes and behaviors in the viewer.
When an ad relies on the peripheral route of persuasion, it does not require the viewer to be active. In utilizing the peripheral route, the commercial was not relying on the merits of the Equinox to bring about change in the viewer’s attitude or behavior. Viewers who ultimately purchase an Equinox would be persuaded based on something other than facts in a message; specifically, they would be acting because they were moved by something else in the commercial since it did not provide anything about the features of the Equinox. For example, the viewers could have felt an emotional response because they viewed the superficial commercial as interesting, attractive, and pertinent to their lives (Aronson, Wilson, Akert & Sommers, 2016). These viewers relate to life’s stages instead of the features of the Equinox; they are influenced by the popular events portrayed in the commercial—leaving home, having a baby, a child’s first day of school.
As a form of advertisement, commercials are designed to produce attitude changes. Both the central route of persuasion and the peripheral route of persuasion have the ability to change attitudes and behaviors. Because viewers had to actively participate in the first Equinox ad, viewers influenced by the central route of persuasion are more likely to take action. Viewers persuaded in this matter would have heard the commercial and would have come to believe that the Equinox was better than the car they were currently driving. When people are persuaded by considering the facts, they tend to maintain attitudinal changes over time (Petty & Wegener, 1999). The attitude changes for viewers persuaded by ad one would be long-lasting since the ad relied on the central route of persuasion (Aronson, Wilson, Akert & Sommers, 2016). When people rely on the central route of persuasion, they are less likely to change their minds when they are presented with counterarguments than people who are persuaded by the peripheral route of persuasion (Petty & Wegener, 1999). In relying on popular events and not facts, the second ad allowed the viewer to remain passive as it aired; thus, viewers most likely used mental shortcuts as they watched it. Therefore, any changes produced would most likely only be temporary, and they would likely quickly vanish (Aronson, Wilson, Akert & Sommers, 2016). When people are persuaded through the peripheral route of persuasion, they are less likely to maintain their attitude changes (Chaiken, 1980).
Both forms of persuasion have a place in advertising, and both can be effective. Although both ads promote the Chevrolet Equinox, they take a totally different approach in the ad contents as well as the delivery. Ads are created using both forms of persuasion in order to reach all people. As some people watch an ad, they are active and think; however, others are passive. In watching ads, active people want ads filled with facts; passive people tend to appreciate ads that are interesting and attractive. When people are thinkers that appreciate facts, they will find the central route of persuasion most effective. On the other hand, when people are passive, they will appreciate attractiveness instead of facts and figures; they will find the peripheral route of persuasion most effective. Additionally, when an advertiser wants to make a lasting change in the consumer’s attitude, it is wise to use the central route of persuasion. However, if the advertiser is only interested in creating an attitude change that is not long-lasting, the central route of advertising will work well. Because people are different and ads for the same product often have different goals, advertisers will develop ads in different formats; they will develop multiple ads for the same product in order to reach consumers that are influenced by the central route of persuasion and the peripheral route of persuasion.
- Agency, S. (2015, March 27). 2015 Chevy Equinox LT Commercial. Retrieved September 14, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwS5LswqA3Y
- Aronson, E., Wilson, T. D., Akert, R. M., & Sommers, S. R. (2016). Social psychology. Boston: Pearson.
- Chaiken, S. (1980). Heuristic-versus systematic information processing and the use of source versus message cues in persuasion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 752- 766.
- Gannaway Chevrolet, V. (Ed.). (2015, September 17). 2015 Equinox Commercial. Retrieved September 14, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm2Dbee9td0
- Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). Communication and persuasion: Central and peripheral routes to attitude change. New York: Springer-Verlag.
- Petty, R. E., Barden, J., & Wheeler, S. C. (2009). The Elaboration Likelihood Model of persuasion: Developing health promotions for sustained behavioral change. In
- R.DiClemente, R. A. Crosby, & M. C. Kegler (Eds.), Emerging theories in health promotion practice and research (2nd ed., pp. 185-214). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Petty, R. E. & Wegener, D. T. (1999). The elaboration likelihood model: Current status and controversies. In S. Chaiken & Y. Trope (Eds.), (Aronson, Wilson, Akert & Sommers, 2016).
- Dual-process theories in social psychology (pp. 37-72). New York: Guilford-Press.