It is a tenet of the marketing and advertising communities that the claims and appeals contained in advertisements must reflect the behaviour, aspiration or dreams of potential customers. Work undertaken in New Zealand challenged the received wisdom, suggesting that the content of advertisements exhibited marked cyclical patterns that had little to do with societal trends. This paper seeks to replicate and extend the earlier study in a larger and less derivative economic environment.
For each year over the period 1950‐2000, the levels of usage of 58 variables in a large sample of advertisements from major UK magazines were analysed. The patterns from the resulting data were examined to determine whether deviations around long‐term secular trends were random, or whether cyclical tendencies were apparent.
The findings confirm that the generally espoused view of advertising as a mirror of society may require substantial modification. Over time periods of five to 15 years the level of usage of various claims and appeals is cyclical, and the stage of the cycle is a far more important factor than the secular trend in understanding the changing levels of usage over operational time periods.
Because the study is limited to advertising in UK magazines, further content analysis work is required using other media (TV) and other countries.
The paper argues that cyclicality is a general phenomenon of aggregated human behaviour, and consequently that advertising cycles should be viewed as a particular case of a general rule rather than a unique occurrence.
Fay, M. (2006), "Cyclical patterns in the content of advertisements: Replication, confirmation, extension and revision", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 40 No. 1/2, pp. 198-217. https://doi.org/10.1108/03090560610637383Download as .RIS
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