Exploring Functional and Experiential Advertisement Construction from a Graphic Design Perspective: An Abstract

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Functional versus experiential advertising is a prevalent advertising typology that has been extensively explored (Zarantonello et al., 2013). Prior research has mainly focused on the content of functional and experiential advertisements. Functional advertisements contain a clear illustration of tangible attributes, benefits and value of the advertised product (Puto & Wells, 1984), while experiential advertisements usually depict an enhanced consumption experience (Naylor et al., 2008). What is lacking in previous research is a focus on graphic design differences between these two types of advertisements. Graphic design is a form of visual communication, which is not only decorative but also informative (Hollis, 2012). Prior research shows that a strategic creation, selection and organization of graphic design elements (i.e., colour, font) can affect information processing and impact consumer perceptions (i.e., Wang et al., 2020). Given the role that graphic design plays in visual communication, it is important to explore advertisement construction from such a perspective. However, there is a paucity of research considering the functional versus experiential advertising typology from a graphic design perspective. In this research, we investigate the use of colour and design complexity in functional and experiential advertisements. We draw on the affect infusion model (Forgas, 2008) to understand why colour could work as a heuristic cue. Colour has the capacity to evoke a wide range of emotions (i.e., Ou et al., 2018), which has further heuristic impact on advertising message processing. This is why we investigate colour in terms of its evoked emotion types, where the Pleasure-Arousal-Dominance (PAD) framework is adopted to assess emotional reactions to colour. We also draw on processing fluency theory to understand why design complexity could work as a heuristic cue: it may influence advertising effectiveness through its impact on processing fluency (Wu et al., 2016). The current research analyzed 347 existing advertisements used in real-life marketing campaigns in terms of their functional and experiential levels and corresponding graphic design elements employed. We find that high-functional advertisements tend to feature pleasant colours rather than arousing or dominant colours, but no patterns emerge in terms of design complexity. In contrast, high-experiential advertisements tend to be more complex in their design, but no patterns in colour use emerge. Our research provides insights into current practices of functional and experiential advertisement construction and offer guidance to advertising designers, regarding how they can match their content and graphic design to achieve maximum persuasion. We suggest that advertising designers should limit design complexity in functional advertisements and leverage colour-induced emotions in experiential advertisements.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDevelopments in Marketing Science
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science
Place of PublicationUSA
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages2
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-24687-6
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-24686-9
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Mar 2023
Event 46th Academy of Marketing Science Annual Conference 2022 - Montere, United States
Duration: 25 May 202227 May 2022

Publication series

NameDevelopments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science
ISSN (Print)2363-6165
ISSN (Electronic)2363-6173


Conference 46th Academy of Marketing Science Annual Conference 2022
Abbreviated title2022AMS
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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