Direct or indirect comparative ads: The moderating role of information processing modes


Comparative advertising is widely used as a persuasion tool. Contemporary advertisers employ both direct (e.g. “Total Corn Flakes have more nutritional ingredients than Kellogg Corn Flakes”) and indirect comparative advertisements (e.g. “Total Corn Flakes have more nutritional ingredients than other corn flakes”) in their campaigns. Consumers process ads predominantly either through analytical (using reason and semantics) or imagery (using nonverbal, sensory representation of perceptual information) modes of processing. Drawing on extant research in advertising and information processing, we posit that direct comparisons are better suited for analytical processing while indirect ones are more amenable for imagery processing. Using a 2*2 factorial design (comparison format—direct/indirect; mode of information processing—analytical/imagery), we show that direct (indirect) comparative advertisements are more effective in reducing perceived manipulative intent, enhancing attitude toward the advertisement, and increasing the perceived differences between the brands for consumers using analytical (imagery) information processing modes.

Managerially, our work suggests that advertisers using comparative advertising should use direct comparisons under analytical processing conditions and use indirect comparisons under imagery processing conditions. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Prof S Bharadhwaj
Dr. Bala V. Balachandran & Vasantha Balachandran Chair Professor of Marketing
Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai

To receive a copy of the complete paper, please write to us at reflections@greatlakes.edu.in


Student Achievements

Winner of Ernst and Young Knowledge Quiz

Lathish Venugopal, Viral Patel. More than 2000 teams across India participated in this


Runners up at TATA Crucible Campus Quiz

Lathish Venugopal and Viral Patel.


Article published in March edition of Markathon – Marketing magazine of IIM- Shillong

Kriti Dua and Sankalp Parihar. The article was on Marketing Trends 2013


Winner at Hyundai Global Youth Marketing Camp

Shouvik Das. The event was held in S.Korea and the team comprising of 4 Korean students, 4 Indians and 1 Chinese student won the award for the Best BTL Strategy


Second Prize for Article writing in NMIMS Banking

Namratha and Mahesh. The article was on “Policy expectations for the Indian Economy” and was published in the BankAge Magazine of NMIMS.


First Place- The Clan,IFMR

Krishnan Chidambaram and Hariharan Subramaniyan. The event was Abhyudhaya, the flagship HR event of IFMR. They competed in the finals against teams from K.J. Somaiya, IIT Madras, BIM, Welinkar and LIBA


I Runner up at Goa Institute of Management

Gajendra Sisodia and Kriti Dua. This was a national level case study competition (Samiksha 2013). Total of 127 teams participated in the event


Article published in NITIE’s In-Fin-NITIE

Manshi Gandhi. The article was on “Quantitative Easing”


First prize in case study competition at SIMC

Harleen Wahi and Abhishek Jain. The case study was a real case of declining sales of next gen publishing magazines a unit of Shapoorji Pallonji & Co Ltd. Great Lakes competed with 11 teams in the final campus round with the likes of SIMS,MICA, NITIE, Narsee Monjee,etc