Advertising Theories How the Main Theories of Essay

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Advertising Theories

How the Main Theories of Advertising Work

There are many different methods that an advertiser can use to communicate their product to the public. These methods are meant to grab someone's attention, hold it for a short amount of time and then make the person want to perform an action. Any advertisement is meant to be a communication tool that can lead a customer to a foregone conclusion. The purpose of this paper is to describe five such models -- AIDA, Lavidge and Steiner, DAGMAR, ATR, and ATRN -- and then to apply one of the models in an analysis of an active advertising campaign.


The acronym AIDA stands for attention, interest, desire, and action (Mind Tools, 2010). This a method of communicating to either readers of an advertisement, or people watching a commercial on TV. The technique is as simple as it sounds, but it can be complex in its execution. Basically, the copy must take the viewer through all four stages so that the customer will purchase the product (Tamblen, 2008).

The four stages of this type of communication are a continuum that the customer must go through (Mind Tools, 2010). The copy must have some sort of attention grabber that turns the person's head the moment they read or see it. The interest is already mildly captured, but the advertisement has to further draw the potential customer in and make them move toward desire for the product. The desire phase is accomplished by presenting the product as something that the customer cannot live without (Mind Tools, 2010). Finally, the individual will be goaded into a purchasing action because they now have to acquire the product. The "call to action" (Tamblen, 2008) should be "specific and direct." There should be no doubt in the mind of the customer as to what they are supposed to do with the knowledge that they have just received.

Lavidge and Steiner

The business communication theorists Lavidge and Steiner developed a model for communication called the hierarchy of effects model (Hogg & Yorke, 1998). The researchers found that people interacted with an advertisement by going through a hierarchy which led them to want to purchase the product. The steps -- unawareness, awareness, knowledge, liking, preference, conviction, and purchase -- can also be designated as cognitive, affective and conative stages (Hogg & Yorke, 1998). A person first thinks about the product, then they are somehow affected by it (most likely through an advertisement), and then the individual makes a decision about the product. These steps are similar to the AIDA, but are developed in a more complex hierarchy of actions (Yoo, Kim & Stout, 2004).

A study was conducted in which the effectiveness of animated banner ads was gaged using the hierarchy of effects model (Yoo, Kim & Stout, 2004). The researchers wanted to determine is animated ads truly did have an advantage over static ads of the same type. They found that animated ads had "better attention-grabbing capabilities, and generates higher recall" (Yoo, Kim & Stout, 2004). Thus, the animated banner ads led the consumer through the hierarchy better than did the static ad.


The acronym stands for designing advertising goals for measured advertising results. The stages of this particular design are unawareness, awareness, comprehension, conviction and action (Black's Academy, 2012). They are designed to lead a customer through a range of senses until the individual decides that they need the product. Although the final action is purchase, there may still be competition from other products before the individual actually purchases the product. Therefore, the draw must be strong enough to keep the purchaser focused (Black's Academy, 2012). The basic thrust of DAGMAR is to use a variety of advertising methods until the desired result is reached. The consumer will go through the same hierarchy, but they will be hooked if it is the right kind.


ATR stands for awareness-trial-repeat in advertising parlance, and it is yet another model of business communication. Basically, this is another hierarchical model, but it goes beyond the others in that this model suggests a loyalty component to purchase if the advertisement is truly successful (Homak, 2003). Homak (2003) says that;

"When a customer purchases the product, she is able to validate the product's performance in use and determine whether her perceptions were correct and the product delivers the expected value. If so, the customer may be inclined to buy the product again (i.e. repurchase)."

This creation of loyalty comes from matching the customer's needs to the design of the product. Loyal customers are desired because they become advertisers themselves.


This model may sound like it takes off from the previous model, but Ehrenson's design is different from the other four models. He said that the hierarchy is awareness-trial-reinforcement-nudging (Blythe, 2008, 434). He believed that a person saw a product in the store or on an advertisement and that after the purchase was made, the customer used the product on a trial basis. After they had successfully tried it and the product met the need, the purchaser was reinforced into purchasing the product again. He also believed that advertising only nudged a person toward a purchase rather than creating the desire (Blythe, 2008, 434).

Ehrenberg describes this as a "weak" theory of advertising because he believed that people were more influenced by buying habit than by new advertising (Simeon, 2000). If a person views an advertisement about a product that is similar to something they have used before, the individual is more likely to purchase that product. He argues that the advertising effect is a lot weaker than had been previously thought.

Current Advertising Campaign

Different advertisements use these models in a singular manner. Since most of the theories are relatively similar, it is necessary to see the elements of each as they uniquely appear. Thus, although all are relative hierarchies, they also believe that there are different elements that attract people to a product that are important to mention.

The advertisement by Synygy has some elements which make it familiar to the reader and draws him or her in immediately. The first element is the bouncing toy that most used when playing as a child. In this picture, the toy is being used in a race between apparent coworkers. It would also give the consumer pause to realize that the people in the ad are wearing suits while acting like children. Using the AIDA model, it can be seen that the picture is designed to draw the attention of viewers. The unusual situation is enough to attract potential customers.

However, interest would fade quickly unless there was a message that attracted attention also. The caption reads "How Do You Define Performance at Your Organization?" This leads the customer further into the advertisement because they are now interested to discover that the reason the employees are racing on bouncing toys is that they desire to prove to their employers how well they can perform. Of course, the underlying message is that if a particular company is using such off-the-wall methods for determining performance, then they may need to assistance of the advertiser. It must be noted that the advertiser is poking some fun at normal performance measures which would also grab some amount of attention.

Any sales manager is going to be interested in a platform that promises to deliver better performance from employees. The Synygy platform is said to offer a greater sales volume to consumers by teaching employees how to better use their talents. The advertiser offers several different platforms on their website, but they keep the advertisement simple. There are just a few bullet points and then a website address. This is all meant to create a desire in the viewer to visit the website to see if the…[continue]

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