Persuasion: The Elaboration Likelihood Model

By 16 Febrero, 2014(English)

Since I arrived to Austin, I have learned that american television commercials are not that different from the ones we have back home in Spain. I watched some of the car commercials from BMW and Mercedes Benz aired during TV show breaks. The BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe one featured spectacular motion graphics of fire and nature while playing futuristic music, time-lapses of an eclipse, shocked standing people and the roar of a high speed car across the desert roads. The second one (“Evening Star”) from Mercedes -more classic- showed some clips of the car being driver through an almost empty city at the sunset, with a confident and distinguished man at the wheel. The scenes were from different positions, mainly showing the image of the car from various angles and underlining the car lights with a closer camera.

When I saw the commercials, I liked more the first one because it was not the standard car ad. Instead, they showed more the other elements that the car model. And the visual effects were certainly brilliant and captured my attention.  The second one -more classic- was not that attractive for me. Instead, I felt it was a little long and did not offer anything. As an Advertising student, I recognized it was a ‘slice-of-life’ ad and it seemed boring for me, as I realized that the advertisement wanted me to believe that if I bought this car I would be like that man, an ‘evening star’ in the city. I felt attracted by the idea of power transmitted in both ads, but the first also showed precision and some values that made it more appealing for me. Anyway, I assume that it may be because I am not part of their target, older (and wealthier) people. If I had to buy a car I would compare several models and contrast their differences in order to choose the best option for me. An ad that shows me why I should choose this model and compares its features with its competitors would be more effective for me. And that leads me to one question that will be discussed in the following paragraph.

The elaboration likelihood model recognizes two routes for persuasion: a central one, that would require relevant and deep thinking or elaboration, and a peripheral one in which elaboration is low. Although this is not an extreme case of the peripheral route, I believe that those commercials are closer to the latter for five reasons. To start with, there is almost no issue-relevant thinking expected from the viewer than feel the commercial as it was an entertainment piece. Also it does rely in the attractiveness of the source, with special effects and a catchy video, and builds the ad taking for granted that the person being persuaded believes in the expertise of the source: as a luxury product, he/she must trust in the brand to believe that the final product is like that and that it is the best choice, better than the competitors. It uses the images and sounds of the video in order to get viewer emotion rather than making him think if the product really has a value proposition that deserves the additional expenses. On the other hand, there is no argument apart from the power of the car and the feeling it transmits to the driver. Again, emotions rather than reasons. Is the peripheral route commonly used for luxury products? Their ads often rely in the trust the brand possesses and emotions. We could say it is, when the individual is not going to elaborate so much or contrast the product with others, and money is not a problem.

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