Let's get zesty: An examination of sexual and humor appeals in advertising
Damiano, Amanda D.
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Sexual appeals have a long history of use in advertising. Despite this reality, research on their effectiveness yields mixed results in support of their application. Humor appeals are also commonplace in today's advertising messages, being incorporated in up to 30 percent of advertisements (Weinberger, Spotts, Campbell, & Parsons, 1995). The purpose of the current study was to assess the potential interactional effects of humor appeals and sexual appeals in strategic advertising. An online survey, presenting a variety of sexual and humor appeals, was used to determine the effectiveness of these messages. Specifically, advertisements were assessed to determine their potential impact on (a) attention, (b) recall, (c) associative networks, and (d) behavioral intention of their audience. Hierarchical Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) Regression was used and indicated that humor offset viewers' beliefs that advertisements with sexual appeals were inappropriate. Humor significantly increased viewers' attention to advertisements as well as influenced behavioral intention to purchase products. Sexual appeal and humor appeal triggered viewers' associative networks. Sexual appeal, humor appeal, along with the interaction of sexual appeal and humor appeal led to viewers' enhanced recall of these advertisements.