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Rational and emotional appeals in prescription drug advertising: study of a weight loss drug



Rational and emotional appeals in prescription drug advertising: study of a weight loss drug



Ciencia and Saude Coletiva 13(Suppl.): 651-662



The Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) advertising of medicines encourages people to ask doctors for certain medicines and treatments that require medical prescription. In order to enhance their persuasive power, advertising models recommend matching the appeals (rational and/or emotional) to the consumer's attitude (cognitive and/ or affective) towards the product. This recommendation leads to controversies in the context of DTC advertising. Emotional appeals, although frequently used, would always be inadequate in that kind of advertising. In absence of empiric evidence of the consumer's perspective, a descriptive research was undertaken with the objective of evaluating: i) the components of the attitude toward medicines; ii) attitude and behavioral intentions in response to DTC ads (one appealing to reason and the other appealing to emotion). A prescription weight loss drug was chosen for this purpose. The results revealed a predominantly cognitive attitude toward the product and an attitude and behavioral intention more favorable to the rational ad. Negative cognition about the product played an outstanding role canceling the persuasive power of emotional appeals.

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