Objectives: In the context of controversy regarding the optimal characteristics of anti-smoking advertisements for youth, this study examines the impact on recall and perceived effectiveness of variations in the message, emotional tone, reach and frequency of broadcast, remoteness of broadcast, and characteristics of the adolescent audience such as changes in smoking behavior, ownership of cigarette promotional items, and demographic variables.
Method: A two-wave longitudinal survey of a population-based sample of 618 Massachusetts youth 12 to 15 years old was carried out in 1993 and 1997. A Generalized Estimating Equation (GEE) approach was used to model the recall and perceived effectiveness of eight advertisements as a function of viewer and ad characteristics.
Results: Advertisements featuring messages about serious health consequences which had been independently rated as high in negative emotion were more likely to be recalled and were perceived as more effective by youth survey respondents than ads featuring messages about normative behavior for teens or ads relying on humor. Advertising intensity, while contributing to recall, was negatively related to perceived effectiveness.
Conclusions: This study supports mounting evidence that negative emotion in anti-smoking advertisements is effective with youth audiences.