Should donation ads include happy victim images? The moderating role of regulatory focus
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We examine how victim imagery interacts with ad messaging’s regulatory focus to determine the effectiveness of donation appeals. We predict and show that ads that combine a happy victim image with a promotion-focused message uniquely increase donation intentions. We demonstrate that this occurs because the combination of promotion-focused messaging, which makes gain goals salient, and a happy victim image, which signals gains are occurring, increases consumers’ perceived response efficacy. Four studies test the interaction of victim imagery and regulatory focus showing the predicted effect. We also test the mediating role of perceived response efficacy and rule out several alternative explanations. Our findings extend prior work which has overlooked the interactive effects of victim imagery and ad messaging and the effects of victim imagery on perceived response efficacy. By exploring these dimensions, we offer marketers and consumers guidance on how to construct effective fundraising ads.
KeywordsDonation Imagery Regulatory focus Emotion Advertising Response efficacy
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