One ad content’s explicitness and explicitness and

One of the first definitions of the two appeals where
expressed by Mueller (1987), who proposed that soft-sell appeal creates mood
and atmosphere through a beautiful scenery or an emotional story, while
hard-sell appeal shows explicit information about the brand name and
recommendations and the performance contributes to the competitive advantage of
the product. Another approach presents the two appeals as contradicted message
strategy appeals, the soft-sell/image appeal which has image oriented content
and uses associations with the brand rather than reasons to buy the product,
and the hard-sell/direct approach which has sales orientation, comparative
content and strong message arguments (Alden, Steenkamp, and Batra, 1999).

It is revealed from the study of Beard (2004) that the
debate between the two message strategy approaches was heated from the early
1911, in a trade journal called Printer’s Ink, between U.S. automotive
advertisers who were arguing the benefits of “atmospheric” or “impressionistic”
and “reason why” advertisements. This conflict was still ongoing in 1997, in an
Advertising Age issue between the supporters of the advertising which is based
on emotions and its aim is to entertain and connect with the consumers, and of
the rationally based advertising that sells.

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Okazaki, Mueller
and Taylor (2010) conducted
a research for the hard-sell and soft-sell appeal because they recognized the
lack of a wide accepted definition of these appeals in the scientific world and
the lack of a measurement scheme to capture them. A definition close to the
Mueller’s was proposed, but slightly modified. Consequently, a soft-sell appeal
is subtle and indirect and seeks to induce affective reaction to the consumer.
It is image-centered using attractive scenery, emotional stories or other indirect
ways. On the other hand, a hard-sell appeal refers to a sales-oriented, direct
appeal with references to the features and factual information of the
performance of the product advertised, with recommendations and explicit
mention of the brand name. Often, it uses direct comparisons with competing
products. The focus of this appeal is to induce rational thinking. The appeals
can be measured by taken into consideration three aspects: the degree of
feeling and thinking developed to viewer, the level of the ad content’s
explicitness and explicitness and the focus of the ad to facts or image. In
their study, Okazaki, Mueller and Taylor (2010) suggest that the extensive use
of feelings or emotions, implicit or indirect messages and product-image format
in the ads is attached with the soft-sell appeal, whereas the considerable use
of cognitive processing or thinking, explicit or direct messages and
product-information format in the ads is attached with the hard-sell appeal.

 

The two appeals will be used in the study to provide
insight on which approach influences consumers’ purchase intention to buy
sustainable apparel products the most in different advertisements of a
sustainable apparel product. Moreover, the results of the research of Okazaki,
Mueller and Taylor (2010) will contribute to the support of one of my
hypotheses, which will be presented in a following chapter. Further knowledge
is needed on the formation of the purchase intention influenced by
advertisement. 

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