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Children perceptions of emotional and rational appeals in social advertisements

Valentina Nicolini (Department of Human Sciences, University of Verona, Verona, Italy)
Fabio Cassia (Department of Business Administration, University of Verona, Verona, Italy)
Massimo Bellotto (Department of Human Sciences, University of Verona, Verona, Italy)

Young Consumers

ISSN: 1747-3616

Article publication date: 21 August 2017




This study aims to understand the impact of rational and emotional appeals on children’s attitude towards two public service announcements (PSAs) that promoted eating fruits and vegetables.


A mixed-methods study was conducted with children aged 8 to 11. A convergent parallel design was selected that comprised a questionnaire for the quantitative approach and a semi-structured focus group for the qualitative approach.


The results from the quantitative and qualitative phases converged, showing that both components (i.e. emotional and rational) play a significant role in children’s preference towards an advertisement, but the emotional component appeared to be the preeminent.

Research limitations/implications

Future studies should use other social subjects and children of different age brackets from various countries to test whether they continue to prefer emotional appeals in advertising.

Practical implications

An understanding of which elements children prefer in PSAs will enable advertising campaigns and social marketing strategies with targeted approaches that respect children’s tastes to be planned.

Social implications

A properly designed social advertisement could have important effects on disseminating useful information, changing or preventing unhealthy habits and adopting good practices in children.


Few studies have examined the effectiveness of PSAs, especially those targeted at children. This paper contributes to extend concepts from the commercial field of advertising directed to children to the field of social advertising. To date, this field has received little attention.



Nicolini, V., Cassia, F. and Bellotto, M. (2017), "Children perceptions of emotional and rational appeals in social advertisements", Young Consumers, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 261-277.



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