Add your Insight
01 June 2021
Let Me Explain! Unexpected Findings & Unexpected Methods in Advertising Research
True story. My co-authors and I were working on a paper about how some brands copy-cat a competitor brand’s visual ad identity to “steal” the competitor’s associations for themselves. Previous work in the packaging literature said that this type of copying would work, until consumers became aware of it; then the copying brand would be disliked. We ran experiment after experiment, but consumers did not seem to notice the copying when it occurred in an advertising context. We put the copy-cat ads next to the original ads; no awareness. We put warnings about the deviousness of advertisers in the experimental instructions; still no awareness. We wrote in big letters on the experiment’s cover page, “Watch out for copy-cat ads!” and still no awareness. We thought the studies gave a clear conclusion that consumers are not very visually literate, and thus do not notice when one brand copies another brand’s visual identity in ads. We felt this was an important finding, given advertising regulations against brand dilution. Journal reviewers and editors did not agree.
“The packaging literature says something else should happen,” they chided. “These results are too unexpected.”
“Maybe run it again,” they suggested. “See if you can turn the effect on and off.”
“Let me explain…” I replied.
This paper never was published, but I use it in my graduate marketing research course, following the maxim: “If you can’t be a good example, be a horrible warning.”
True story. When I asked my colleagues for recommendations of journals that might be open to publishing an empirical paper that used the collage method, I got blank stares.
“Let me explain…” I said. “The collage method asks consumers to visualize a brand’s associations, and then recreate them by cutting pictures from magazines and pasting them onto a big white poster.”
Luckily, a brave journal published a paper explaining the collage method is a valuable way to tap into consumers’ visual memory structures without the bias of verbal questions. I was able to cite that work, and my “collage paper” did not have to join the other as a warning to graduate students.
JCIRA wants to be that brave journal. It wants to let you explain. You can explain either a new method and how it can be used in advertising research, or why your competently-conducted research studies tell an unexpected and interesting story. We’ll hear you out.
Papers should focus on the topic of advertising and brand communication, broadly defined as persuasive stories brands tell about themselves. This persuasive communication can occur in any marketplace situation, including traditional media, digital media, games, sponsorships, product placements, or cobranding partnerships. Brands can include products and services, but also corporations, people, places, and ideas.
This special issue is more concerned with theory-building than theory-testing. Papers should be “curious and interesting” as fits the aims and scope of the journal. All sound methods are acceptable for this special issue. We prefer empirical papers, but are open to theoretically-grounded conceptual papers with a new point of view.
Looking to Publish your Research?
We aim to make publishing with Taylor & Francis a rewarding experience for all our authors. Please visit our Author Services website for more information and guidance, and do contact us if there is anything we can help with!
View the latest tweets from @Routledge_Econ