Advertising a Desired Change: When Process Simulation Fosters (vs. Hinders) Credibility and Persuasion

Cian, Luca, Chiara Longoni, and Aradhna Krishna, “Advertising a Desired Change: When Process Simulation Fosters (vs. Hinders) Credibility and Persuasion,” Journal of Marketing Research, Forthcoming

20 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2020

See all articles by Luca Cian

Luca Cian

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Chiara Longoni

Boston University, Questrom School of Business

Aradhna Krishna

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Date Written: March 20, 2020

Abstract

Ads promising a desired change are ubiquitous in the marketplace. These ads typically include visuals of the starting and ending point of the promised change (“before/after” ads). “Progression” ads, which include intermediate steps in addition to starting and ending points, are much rarer in the marketplace. Across several consumer domains, the authors show an ad-type effect: progression ads foster spontaneous simulation of the process through which the change will happen, which makes these ads more credible and, in turn, more persuasive than before/after ads (Studies 1–3). The authors also show that impairing process simulation and high skepticism moderate the ad-type effect (Studies 4–5). Finally, they show effect reversals: if consumers focus on achieving the desired results quickly, and it is possible to do so, progression ads and the associated process simulation backfire in terms of credibility and persuasion (Studies 6–7). These findings contribute to existing research by identifying conditions under which progression ads have beneficial or disadvantageous effects. These findings have managerial implications because they run counter to current marketing practices, which favor before/after over progression ads.

Keywords: advertising, mental simulation, persuasion, process and outcome imagery

Suggested Citation

Cian, Luca and Longoni, Chiara and Krishna, Aradhna, Advertising a Desired Change: When Process Simulation Fosters (vs. Hinders) Credibility and Persuasion (March 20, 2020). Cian, Luca, Chiara Longoni, and Aradhna Krishna, “Advertising a Desired Change: When Process Simulation Fosters (vs. Hinders) Credibility and Persuasion,” Journal of Marketing Research, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3557949

Luca Cian (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

Chiara Longoni

Boston University, Questrom School of Business ( email )

United States

Aradhna Krishna

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States

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