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The Waste in Advertising Is the Part That Works

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 April 2005

London Business School,
Cogent Consortium,
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This study shows that “waste”—the perceived extravagance of an advertisement—contributes to advertising effectiveness by increasing credibility. It draws especially on the “Handicap Principle” in biology: animals use wasteful characteristics to signal their exceptional biological fitness. It hypothesizes that excesses in advertising work in a similar way by signaling “brand fitness.” TV advertisements were evaluated online for perceived advertising expense, message, brand familiarity, quality, reliability, and likelihood of choosing. High perceived advertising expense enhances an advertisement's persuasiveness significantly, but largely indirectly, by strengthening perceptions of brand quality.

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