Unintended effects of ethnically targeted advertising
De Run, Ernest Cyril
Although, advertising has been a major area of study in marketing, limited research investigating the unintended effects of targeted advertising beyond social and moral issues has been limited. This thesis contributes to the current body of knowledge by examining the unintended effects of ethnically targeted advertising on ethnic groupsthat are not targeted, but who are still likely to see the advertising. The thesis also develops a holistic model for measuring the effects of targeted advertising using four variables; emotions, attitude to the advertisement, attitude to the company and behavioural intentions. The conceptual basis of the model is accommodation theory, which allows for different levels of targeting based on the language mix used in advertisements (e.g. ranging from advertisements that are solely in the targeted group language to advertisements with a mixture of languages to advertisements that are solely in the non-targeted group's language). The model was tested on three different ethnic groups in Malaysia.Five key propositions were tested during the research: 1. That targeted advertisements will elicit negative unintended reactions from ethnic groups that are not targeted (Pi); 2. That there will be a direct relationship between the strength of reactions and the degree of language accommodation (i.e. those not targeted will have stronger negative reactions to advertisements that accommodate the targeted ethnic group) (P 2); 3. That "novel" advertisements with unexpected combinations of language and cultural cues, will elicit more negative reactions from those not targeted rather than "standard" advertisements with more commonly used combinations of language and cultural cues (P3); 4. That there will be significant differences within ethnic groups in their reactions to targeted advertisements (P 4); 5. That there will be significant differences between ethnic groups in their reactions to targeted advertisements (P5). A factorial design was used to analyse the data collected by a survey. The factorial design consisted of five different advertisement types (by language), three different ethnicities, ethnic identification strength and measures of social distance. The dependent variables used were attitude towards the company, corporate credibility, corporate image, rapport, attitude towards the advertisement, affective response towards the advertisement, attitude towards the product, attitude towards the brand, purchase intention, word of mouth, overall emotions, alienation, anger, feeling targeted and perceived threat.Test for P 1 supported the proposition of negative responses by non-targeted ethnic groups, albeit a lot of these were affective response. The findings also suggested that ethnic dominance and the social and cultural context might have mediated the level of negative response. Test for P2 showed that the strength of negative reactions was not necessarily directly linked to the level of language accommodation. Test for P3 showed that "novel" advertisements created stronger negative reactions among nontargeted ethnic groups than 'standard' advertisements. Test for P4 showed that within group effects were minimal. The interactions posited for P5 did not occur.The theoretical implications of this thesis include support for a "holistic" approach to targeted advertising. In other words, instead of the previous view that looked at targeting as the end product, the thesis suggests that there are more factors to consider after targeting is implemented. The thesis also develops a model for assessing the unintended reactions of those not targeted. The findings indicate that there are limits to Accommodation Theory, Distinctiveness Theory and the concept of cultural schema. This research also has managerial implications and identifies actions that can be taken to reduce the negative reactions of non-targeted ethnic groups to ethnically targeted advertising and towards the company itself.
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Marketing
Keywords: targeted advertising; ethnic groups; unintended reactions; Accommodation Theory; Distinctiveness Theory; cultural schema
Research Type: Thesis