Does size matter: how does model-size affect consumer recollection and likeability in advertising?
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In today’s body conscious world, being a smaller size is everything. Consumers are constantly bombarded with messages of weight loss and images of underweight models in advertising. As consumers strive to achieve the ideal weight set upon them by advertisers, others such as health and beauty giant Unilever, have broken free and begun to use plus-sized models in their print advertising for their brand Dove. This research aimed to understand the effect that using models of different sizes and genders can have on both the advertising world and consumers, and asks the question: Does size matter: How does model-size affect consumer recollection and likeability in advertising? Theories of social comparison, attraction, gender stereotypes and evaluation were looked at to help guide the research and to help understand which ways to focus the experimental study. After conducting experimental research using, four fictitious magazine pages, on students from AUT University, the research produced three major findings. Firstly, overweight female models created a higher rate of recall of the product compared to other female groups. Secondly, advertisements containing overweight female models attracted significantly more attention towards the branding and themselves; however, overweight males were the only group to demand more attention. Finally, advertisements containing normal weight females were significantly more liked overall, than ads with any other group. Interesting results also emerged for male models which showed that advertisements containing normal weight male models were more highly liked than any of the other five groups. Interestingly it was also shown that perceptions of male models can be quite different to those of female models; for example overweight females were rated as more highly intelligent than overweight male models yet underweight males were rated more highly intelligent than underweight female models. Consistently throughout the research two recurring patterns were present; A ‘V’ shaped relationship where underweight and overweight models received more attention than normal weight models and a ‘˄’ shaped relationship of likeability where normal-sized models were more highly rated than underweight and overweight models. Overall, the research presented some interesting and useful conclusions for advertisers and shows that the current ‘thin’ trend in advertising may not be working as well as first thought. Whether this comes down to the novelty of it all or simply the love of something different, this research has showed that size and gender can affect advertising in regards to perceptions and likeability.