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Advertising theory: The Means-end model

Published date: 28th February 2018
Last modified: 28th February 2018

Advertising theory

Advertisements, annoying 3 minutes of hell in between your favourite television programme. Radio jingles that get stuck in your head all day, billboards that you pass on the way home showing you Big Macs, or Chinese takeaways from Diliveroo. We’ve all been subject to advertising.

Some of us try to remove them from of our homes, and live a corporate free life, others just make a cup of tea when they’re on. Advertisements are hilarious, some are hard hitting and some are a little dull. You might think that the people who create them have no idea what they’re doing and you’d be half right… but actually there is some sort of theory to all this madness.

Advertisers are the great evil, the story tellers, all the promises in the world offered to you on a plate in form of a fairy-tale before you go to sleep, they create emotions, make us actually want to purchase things, catch our attention and sometimes make us turn over the channel.

In this article, we’re going to look at advertising theory. The way that people who want to sell something curate different images, sounds and effects to make a viewer feel a certain way and take action. The model we’re going to focus on is the means- end theory/ MECCAs model which is broken down into five parts.

Means-end theory (MECCAS model)

This model states that advertisers require five elements to create an ad.

  1. The product attributes
  2. Consumer benefits
  3. Leverage points
  4. Personal values
  5. The executional framework

The product attributes

The product attributes. What are the features of your product, what makes it up? What is its purpose?

The consumer benefits

What about your product is going to benefit the consumer or target audience? Why should they buy your product what are the pain points your product is solving?

Leverage points

“A leverage point moves the consumer from understanding the products benefits to linking those benefits with personal values.”

A leverage point can be: A message or phrase e.g. a question to a consumer or a combination of visual images and phrases. This is the part where the advertiser hopes to portray the emotional benefits of buying your product instead of something else.

For example, why does a child drink Coke instead of Pepsi? Its deeper than just the taste, is it because all the skater kids are drinking Pepsi and they want to identify with skaters. You need to parallel your target audiences beliefs as well as their self identity to champion this one.

Personal values

Personal values are the way in which your product makes a connection with the viewer. For example, if you are using music in your advert you might emotionally connect with a viewer, however, if the connection they have with a particular song is related to a bad feeling or painful memory it may create those kinds of connections with your product. So, be safe and stay away from Back to Bedlam!

The executional framework

The executional frame work is the manner in which an ad appeal is presented.

  1. Animation – Originally used by small budget firms. Now popular due to the upgrade in PC graphics, they personify products, animal’s humans and are used by companies such as Red Bull who are quite a high-profile brand.
  2. Slice of life– This is a soft sell approach, provides solutions and a scenario in four stages
    Encounter
    Problem
    Interaction
    Solution
  1. Testimonials – Testimonials tell the viewer of a positive experience with products offered. These promote services and products, authenticity is key with this framework. Actual customers should be use and enhance imperfections, customers shouldn’t be airbrushed or altered. There is also evidence to suggest that customers with accents are more trust worthy, and northerners are perceived to be friendlier.
  2. Informative – Present information in a straightforward way. This is used lots for radio, its good in high involvement situations and is particularly used within B2B industry.
  3. Authoritative – This shows superiority using expertise. For example, you could use dentists, doctors, engineers, scientific research. The claims made in this framework are powerful and they rely on cognitive process good for print especially magazines.
  4. Demonstrations – shows the product working, its functionality. The product is the core focus. Used in television/ online in flash media- not so much in print.
  5. Fantasy – This can also be realistic, it is used for services and products. Involves romance, love, sex and it targets older audiences. Shows experience of the product and is used in TV.

So, there you have it, everything you need to know about the Means- end advertising theory. Try and put it into practice on your next advertising campaign and measure your results! If you need help with any of your marketing efforts whether it be digital or print get in touch and see where we can help your company succeed.

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