An examination of humor and endorser effects on consumers' responses to direct-to-consumer advertisingThe moderating role of product involvement

Yam Limbu, Montclair State University
Bruce A. Huhmann, New Mexico State University
Robin T. Peterson, New Mexico State University


Purpose: This study aims to examine how product involvement moderates the effects of emotional appeals namely humor and endorsers on consumers' responses to direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA). Design/methodology/approach: This study employed a 2 (Humor: humor vs. non-humor)×2 (Endorser: celebrity vs expert)×2 (Involvement: high vs low) factorial experimental design. Subjects were 420 allergy/asthma sufferers or non-sufferers attending a large Southwestern US university as undergraduate and graduate students. Findings: Results confirm that low involvement consumers demonstrate more positive responses than high involvement consumers toward prescription drug ads with emotional appeals. Humor or a celebrity endorser enhances ad and brand attitudes, brand recall, and copy point recall of consumers without medical conditions. However, an expert endorser is found to be more effective in improving ad credibility. A three-way interaction between humor, endorser, and involvement was evident indicating that the celebrity endorser and humor jointly generated more positive responses than other combinations of treatment group when product involvement was low. These findings clearly suggest that use of emotional appeals in DTCA does not influence attitudes and memory of target audience who are suffering from a condition. Originality/value: This is the first empirical study that examines the effects of emotional appeals namely humor and endorsers on consumers' responses to DTCA.