How broadcast volume and emotional content affect youth recall of anti-tobacco advertising

Am J Prev Med. 2008 Jul;35(1):14-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2008.03.018. Epub 2008 May 14.


Background: Televised anti-tobacco advertising has been shown to be effective for discouraging smoking initiation; however, purchasing broadcasting time is very costly. This study investigated the relative impact of the broadcast volume (media weight) and the emotional content of an ad as predictors of advertising recall.

Methods: The data come from a random-digit-dialed survey conducted in 2001 and 2002 of 3863 youth aged 12-17. Media weight was based on commercial TV ratings data. The emotional intensity of advertisements was derived from the ratings made by independent youth judges.

Results: Data analyses were conducted between 2005 and 2007. Results indicated that media weight was a significant predictor of recall, but the emotional content of the ad was an even stronger predictor. Also, ads low in emotional intensity required more media weight than those high in emotional intensity to achieve the same amount of increase in recall.

Conclusions: This study extends prior research that highlights the importance of emotional intensity for effective anti-tobacco advertising. It also indicates that, relative to unemotional advertisements, emotionally arousing advertisements require fewer broadcasts to achieve the same level of recall, and hence are likely to be less costly to a public health campaign.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Advertising*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Health Promotion* / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Television