Effectiveness of Television
There are two key areas of television that try to persuade us in particular, advertisement and health-related campaigns.
There are several techniques a company might use to increase the effectiveness of their products advertisement. These include: hard and soft-sell, product endorsement, advertisement aimed at children and ‘pester power’.
Hard and soft sell
A hard sell is when the advert tries to appeal to you with facts (central route of persuasion), whilst a soft sell will use more creative methods to try and persuade you. The effectiveness of these two techniques depends on the individual. If a person has a high level of self-monitoring (when someone makes sure they make a positive impact on people around them) then they are more likely to be persuaded by a soft sell, whilst someone with a high need for cognition would be better persuaded by a hard sell.
Effectiveness of Television cont
Some psychologists, such as Giles, believe that celebrity endorsement is a very effective technique. This relates to the Hovland-Yale model, which states that the source can affect the effectiveness of advertisement; celebrities are seen as attractive and someone we aspire to be like, so we are more likely to be persuaded by them.
However, Meenaghan disagrees this. He stated that most people see through celebrity endorsement, and would be better persuaded by someone with more credibility, for example an expert of professional.
Advertising aimed at children
Martin (1997) found that the older the child, the better he or she could understand the difference between normal programmes and adverts. He also found older children could understand the aims of advertising better than younger children, so are less prone to be persuaded. This is useful for advertising companies as they know aiming adverts at young children will be effective.
Pester power is a term used to describe when children will nag their parents to buy them a product. Pine and Nash believed that television advertising has a massive effect on the amount children pester their parents.
Evaluation of impact of advertising
Giles suggests that advertising on television and in cinemas is so powerful because the audience is ‘captive’, so they are constantly paying attention to the screen and therefor the adverts. However, Comstock and Scharrer argue that 80% of television viewers leave during the adverts. This suggests that television advertising isn’t actually that powerful because only 20% of people watch them.
It is important for the government to raise awareness of health related issues, for example maintaining a balanced diet, and the risk of smoking etc. Research suggests that television advertising can be particularly useful for this. French (2004) found that there are certain scenarios in which television advertising is particularly useful.
1) When you want wide exposure – television reaches millions of people in the UK every day
2) When you have little time – television means you can reach a lot of people within a small time frame
3) When the goal of the campaign is simple – it is easier to encourage behaviour change about simple things, such as immunisation than it is with things like quitting smoking or changing your diet
The Health Development Agency found that a number of positive behavioural changes could be attributed to television health campaigns. These include: people knowledge of units in alcoholic drinks, people’s awareness of HIV/AIDS and the importance of wearing sunscreen.
However, it’s not only adverts that can influence people’s perceptions about health; fictional dramas can also inform and persuade people. Hawton et al found that people who watched Casualty could often relay important information about health that was shown on the programme. This shows that normal television can be used very effectively to persuade people and cause a behaviour change in regards to health.
Philo (1999) found that people saw medically based programmes such as Casualty used the programme as a source of useful information, and because it is presented in an entertaining way people are more likely to remember it.