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Managerial Implications


7.3 Managerial Implications

exposures) in this/ear-re/ze/advertisement. T h e "Trike-Fear" also diminished in fear, but to a greater extent (approximately a half in this fear-only advertisement) and changed into a/ear-re/ze/pattern after repetition (over three exposures).

Despite a decline in the "shock-value" of the advertisements, the fear-relief advertisement continued to be effective in reducing (simulated) speeding behaviour when exposure to the advertisement was increased from moderate repetition to heavy repetition. Similarly, the fear-only advertisement became more effective with repeated viewing. Overall, however, the fear-relief pattern was found to be more effective in reducing young drivers' speed. In accordance with the findings from Study 2, the

results of Study 3 affirmed thatyear-re/z'e/pattern advertisements are more effective in reducing speed thanfear-only pattern advertisements particularly among the most

problematic group for anti-speeding program, young male habitual speeders..

T h e suggested format of stimuli to be used in a fear appeal communication is: first, the

"creation of a fearful situation, that activates risk and vulnerability"; second, the

"danger is depicted as serious enough to warrant attention"; and finally "a solution is provided as a means of fear reduction" (La Tour and Zahra, 1989, pp. 62-63). Despite this recommended formula, many road safety advertisers do not develop advertisements that produce fear reduction, but rather leave the viewer feeling extremely tense at the end of the advertisement. Researchers and practitioners need to focus on the pattern of fear, and not just on the level of fear, within road safety fear appeals advertisements.

Asking road safety practitioners to classify their advertisements into the two broad categories offear-only or fear-relief patterns would be a starting point in educating practitioners to start thinking differently about how they construct road safety advertisements. Practitioners should focus on how their viewers will be feeling

throughout the entire advertisement, versus constructing an advertisement that builds-up to shock the viewer and leaves the viewer fearful and in a state of high arousal. While the shock-value approach can be more dramatic, attention-getting and create a word-of-mouth effect, thus scoring highly in recognition and recall copy tests, it is not necessarily effective in terms of behaviour change.

Studies 2 and 3 showed small differences in reductions in speed (kilometres per hour) between the control group, fear-relief advertisement groups and fear-only advertisement groups. Research centres specialising in road safety research, such as Monash

University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) in Victoria, Australia, and the

Transport Systems Centre within the University of South Australia, have reported that even small differences in speed reduction of 2 to 5 km/hr can significantly lower collision and accident rates. This was a major reason behind the introduction of a

50km/hr speed limit in local streets (down from 60km/hr) for most states and territories within Australia.

The findings of the repeated exposures experiment undertaken in Study 2 could aid

practitioners in deciding on the life cycle of their advertisements. Study 2 indicated that shock-appeal road safety advertisements, despite losing their shock value quite quickly, had favourable behavioural effects with increased exposures. This suggests that there is less need to design new advertisements, thus potentially saving significant amounts of money, particularly given the funding spent by some states (for example the Victorian TAC) on new creative executions.

This thesis also presents directly relevant information for marketers, as opposed to using the findings of previous studies that have investigated fear appeals from a psychology background. For example, Strong and Dubas (1993, p.9) made the point that "one of the weaknesses of the fear appeal literature in social psychology is the use of long

written material and lengthy films as threat stimuli that differ significantly in length and detail from actual threat messages used in advertising and thus have dubious external

validity". For example, people are likely to react differently to a 15-minute lecture format on dental hygiene as used in Leventhal's (1971) study, than to a 30-second

television advertisement on dental hygiene. The distinction between research for social and psychological understanding and research for advertising and marketing strategic implications was also made by Rotfeld (1988). Most of the information gathered on fear and persuasion has been collected by psychologists who have sought to understand fear and human behaviour, rather than fear and consumer behaviour, that is,

"advertising researchers have blindly presumed that the data and theories all apply to

m a s s media contexts" (Rotfeld, 1988, p.22). T h e w a y to determine if fear appeal

theories from psychology and other disciplines are relevant to marketing applications is to test the theories on marketing stimuli. In this thesis the theories related to fear patterns have been tested in a social marketing application of road safety advertising.

Also, most of the studies conducted on fear appeals have used print media that can only deliver static images with limited control over the order of exposure of the audience to fear and relief stimuli in the advertisement. While newspaper and magazine advertising, as well as billboards, can contain graphic and fear-provoking images along with

powerful messages, they lack the dynamic characteristics of television advertising, that can emphasise movement, such as speed (and which is the primary medium for many

social marketing campaigns, including road safety).

Advertising plays an important role in educating and persuading road users to drive more safely so as to avoid injury and death. As mentioned in the introduction to this

thesis, road safety advertising is an area of social marketing that has traditionally relied heavily upon fear-based advertising appeals (Henley and Donovan, 1999). Thus,

improving our knowledge of the mechanisms of such advertising appeals should filter through to reducing the human and financial costs of road accidents. There is a lack of specific academic research in the area of fear appeal anti-speeding television

advertisements that this thesis has attempted to address.

This thesis has examined ways in which social marketing, specifically road safety advertising, can be improved to encourage people to undertake voluntary behaviour

change, specifically to drive within speed limits. Rothschild (1999) noted that law and

education are m o r e heavily depended upon for changing social and health behaviour than embracing some of the fundamental underpinnings of marketing communication to overcome the problems.