Dahlen, M., Rosengren, S., & Smit, E. (2014). Why the marketer’s view matters as much as the message: Speaking down to the consumer speaks badly to a brand’s image. Journal of Advertising Research, 54(3), 304-312. doi: 10.2501/JAR-54-3-304-312

This research explored whether advertisements can insult consumers by underestimating their intelligence. It also posed the question whether advertising that underestimates consumers’ intelligence signals that the advertiser has a prejudiced view of its consumers—a perception that, then, impacts negatively on consumer perceptions of the brand. Two experimental studies found that consumers, indeed, may find advertising insulting to their intelligence and, consequently, rate such advertising lower. Inferring that the advertiser does not think very highly of their intelligence, consumers expected the offered products to be of lower quality and rated the advertiser lower. The tests extended across three different product categories and ruled out competing explanations.

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