The dark side of openness for consumer response

P. Ketelaar, M.S. Van Gisbergen, JWJ Beentjes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The study presented in this chapter aims at providing the foundation for future research examining the potential negative results of open ads. In past decades there has been a shift toward ads with less guidance toward a specific interpretation. Different terms have been used to denote these ads-for instance, complex image ads, implicit ads, ambiguous ads, and undercoded ads. Open ads have the common characteristic that consumers are not manifestly directed toward a certain interpretation. We formulate five antecedents that render an ad more open: presence of a prominent visual, presence of rhetorical figures, absence of the product, absence of verbal anchoring, and a low level of brand anchoring. We distinguish four categories of open ads: riddle ads, story ads, issue ads, and aesthetic ads. Although the literature generally stresses positive outcomes of openness on consumer reactions, five experiments show preliminary support for the arguments stressing a possible dark side of openness for consumer response. We have found negative effects of openness on interpretation, attitude toward the ad and the brand, and null-effects on attention and recall.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGo figure! New directions in advertising rhetoric
EditorsEF Mcquarrie, BJ Philips
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780765621337, 9781315704029
ISBN (Print)9780765618016
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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