The Hierarchy Model of Advertising Effects: a Debate

2890 Words12 Pages

Nguyen Hoang Sinh, MA

Faculty of Business Administration, Ho Chi Minh Open University


The most often cited hierarchy model was developed by Lavidge and Steiner, and this has been regarded as the process by which advertising works for decades. But some recent reviews of the empirical literature found little evidence to support the existence of an advertising hierarchy, and this continues to be the subject of debate. Most recently, Weilbacher and Barry have debated the hierarchy model of advertising effects in their articles published in Journal of Advertising Research. In this paper, the contribution of these articles to marketing theory, as well as practice are
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In Weilbacher’s article “Point of View: Does Advertising Cause a Hierarchy of Effect”, the author argues that ‘hierarchy of advertising effects models do not provide an accurate description of how advertising works and the effects of advertising’ [8, p. 19], and therefore it is unlikely to be used as a framework for measuring the true effects of advertising [8]. In contrast, Barry in the article titled “In Defense of the Hierarchy of Effects: A Rejoinder to Weilbacher” supports the concept of a hierarchy as a major guideline for advertising practice and research [9]. The author adds that the marketing literature continues to embrace the hierarchy of advertising effects formulation as a basis for measuring the effects of advertising.

To begin with, there has been significant discrepancy regarding the explanation of advertising’s role among advertising researchers. According to Weilbacher, success or failure of advertising has always depended primarily on the ultimate sales when citing that ‘advertising-- if it is successful-- ultimately results in the sale of the product or service advertised to at least some of the consumers that have been exposed to the advertising. If such sales do not happen, the advertising is judged not to have been effective’ [8, p. 19]. Meanwhile, others have regarded advertising as the communication process that attracts customer’s attention or features the product that will satisfy their

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