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National Information Processing Institute

Human-Technology Interaction

Do you have to be afraid of controversial context when advertising?

Marketers use different influencing techniques such as non-standard forms of advertising to reduce ad avoidance. Sponsorship vignette is one of such nonstandard types of advertising. Despite the advantages of this form of advertising, advertisers are afraid of placing vignettes in the context of popular but controversial programs on lifestyle channels due to the presence of content (e.g. reports from autopsy, consequences of heroin addiction etc.) that can evoke negative emotions.

Advertisers claimed that placing their sponsorship vignettes in the context of such controversial programs would reduce their performance understood as viewers’ willingness to purchase the advertised product. Two studies were conducted in the field of hedonic and utilitarian product categories to support or challenge the concerns of advertisers (n = 222, n = 219). The reported studies focused on the influence of loyalty toward program content, sponsorship vignette awareness and context type (congruent vs. incongruent) on the purchase intent for the sponsorship vignette in hedonic (Study 1) and utilitarian (Study 2) product categories. The results contradict marketers' fears that the sponsorship vignette placed in an incongruent context of  controversial program content will be less effective. In the case of hedonic and utilitarian product, the concern turned out to be unfounded.

The context type had no significant impact on purchase intent. However, results show a positive effect of loyalty toward programs. Viewers loyal to the program showed a higher purchase intent than disloyal viewers. Moreover, viewers who knew the sponsorship vignette from TV before the survey were more eager to buy a hedonic product. This effect did not occur in the case of utilitarian products.