Ahn, H., Yim, M. Y., & Sung, Y. (2021).
When metaphors become more persuasive: The interplay between goal orientation of ad claims and metaphor.
International Journal of Advertising. 1-22.
This study suggests that the goal orientation of metaphoric claims impacts the effects of metaphors in ads. Drawing on regulatory focus and information processing theories, we tested the moderating role of the regulatory focus of ad messages on the persuasiveness of their metaphors. In Experiment 1, we found that promotion-focused (vs. prevention-focused) verbal messages in ads were more favorable when messages were metaphoric (vs. literal), whereas prevention-focused (vs. promotion-focused) messages were more favored in literal (vs. metaphoric) claims. Experiment 2 further demonstrated that processing fluency functions as a mediating factor that elucidates the relationship found in Experiment 1. Experiment 2 also tested the generalizability of the Experiment 1 findings by varying the degree of artful deviation in the metaphoric claims. The results across both experiments suggest that when metaphoric claims highlight an approach to a desired outcome (i.e. promotion focus), the persuasiveness of metaphors in ads is enhanced, while when the avoidance of an undesired outcome (i.e. prevention focus) is emphasized, literal claims rather than metaphoric claims are more persuasive.