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EMAC 2019 Annual Conference

Experiments on the effectiveness of marketing communications tactics to support ‘unappealing’ animals

Published: May 28, 2019


Jie Meng, Loughborough University; Emily Cooper, Oxford Brookes University ; Yan Sun, Oxford Brookes University


endorsement; anthropomorphism; incentive


This study was designed for investigating how effective different marketing communications tactics are at influencing donations to animal conservation campaigns featuring ‘unappealing’ (non-flagship) species. Experiments were executed to evaluate the effectiveness of celebrity endorsements, anthropomorphism, message framing, and personal incentives in fictitious animal conservation adverts. Results showed that urgent message tone was not successful at gaining support for non-flagship campaigns but combining anthropomorphism with positive message did increase support for nonflagship causes. Celebrity endorsements were shown to be successful at influencing willingness to donate, provided that the celebrity is highly credible in the world of animal conservation. Offering personal incentives to influence donations achieved its purpose when used in campaigns featuring ‘popular’ animals, but it was not a successful marketing tactic when used to promote ‘undesirable’ animals. Interestingly, the results revealed that participants were strongly influenced to donate to a non-flagship campaign when they believed that it would result in wider environmental benefits that would also be beneficial to humans. Overall, a participant’s prior knowledge or preference for a specific species had a great influence over donation choice. However, this study has revealed that through effective marketing participants can be swayed to support ‘undesirable’ animals instead of typically ‘preferred’ species.