Telling Is Selling: Stories as Efficient Means to Advertise Luxury Products and Brands

in Matters of Telling: The Impulse of the Story
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Abstract

In the same way as we tell stories about our lives in order to construct our personal identities, advertisers may attempt to construct a commercially appealing identity of a product or brand by telling a story about it. In the past years, the use of narratives has indeed become an increasingly popular advertising device. In particular, the advertising of luxury products and brands appears to rely on the use of storytelling techniques which may be well suited to emphasise the characteristics of such products and often foreground long and illustrious heritage of craftsmanship, a high hedonic potential and symbolic meaning, as well as a rich history and tradition connected to the product. There is, however, very little empirical evidence of the effects of narrative advertisements on viewers’ responses to luxury products and brands. The aim of the present study was thus to explore whether narrative advertisements represent successful means for persuading consumers into liking and buying luxury products. For this purpose, we showed participants a set of advertisements which depicted a story and another set comprising more ‘traditional’ advertisements which lacked a clear storyline. The results showed that stories were more efficient at advertising luxury products and brands than traditional ads and that these effects were not limited to one brand or product category only. Interestingly, narrative ads stimulated viewers’ responses typical of the reception of more traditional stories, such as the phenomenological experience of being transported in the story, and it was through these responses that advertisement effects occurred.

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