The role of explicitly identified sponsors in anti-smoking ads
CALS Impact Statement
When the sponsor of a smoking cessation ad is clearly identifiable, audiences may be making judgments about the sponsor during exposure and these judgments may influence the outcome regardless of strategy. A randomized, controlled experiment tests the varying effects of the content of an anti-smoking advertisement and the explicit sponsor, as well as the moderating effect of perceived credibility.
To date, no studies have examined the influence of the identification of an advertisement sponsor on the individual processing of the advertisement. This gap in the literature is surprising because, generally, one of three types of sponsors is easily identifiable in a smoking cessation advertisement: a public health agency, a tobacco company, or a pharmaceutical company. Because sponsors tend to be faithful to a particular strategy or set of strategies, it is difficult to parse out whether the sponsor or the strategy is responsible for the success or failure of an ad campaign.
Our research questions will be investigated with a randomized, controlled 4 (explicit sponsor: public health/tobacco company/pharmaceutical/none) X 3 (ad content: public health/tobacco company/pharmaceutical) + control experiment, with 30 subjects in each cell. Participants will view one of twelve sets of advertisements or a non-exposure control. On each ad in the set, a sponsor will be easily identifiable. A professional graphic artist will manipulate the explicit sponsor across the advertisements so that it will be possible to test for main effects for content and source as well as interactions.
The work will be useful for policymakers and health campaign designers, as we will be able to discern the value or costs associated with identifying a sponsor in a smoking ad.