When the Medium is the Message: A Meta-analysis of Creative Media Advertising Effects

Zeph M. C. van Berlo*, Marijn H. C. Meijers, Jiska Eelen, Hilde A. M. Voorveld, Martin Eisend

*Corresponding author for this work

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Creative media advertising is a specific type of unconventional advertising in which a regular physical object serves as a medium to carry an advertising message. To better understand the workings of this type of advertising, we conducted a meta-analysis. In this study, we explore the direct effects of creative media advertising, several moderators, and the possible underlying mechanisms. The results show that exposure to creative (versus traditional) media advertising has an overall positive effect on brand association strength and persuasion (i.e., ad attitude, brand attitude, purchase intentions, and electronic word of mouth [eWOM]). Both these effects are moderated by metaphor use, meaning that the effects are stronger when the physical object is a good metaphor for the message it carries. Furthermore, indirect (e.g., social media, printed picture) exposure to the message positively moderates the effect of creative media advertising on brand association strength but not on persuasion. Brand familiarity does not play a moderating role. Finally, a meta-analytic structural equation modeling (SEM) procedure was used to show that the main underlying mechanism of creative media advertising persuasiveness is surprise—and not perceived persuasive intent. For practitioners, this study shows that creative media ads are more effective when leveraging surprise and metaphors.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Advertising
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)278-295
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Published online: 4 April 2023.

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