Although creativity is often considered a key success factor in advertising, the marketing literature lacks a systematic empirical account of when and how advertising creativity works. The authors use a meta-analysis to synthesize the literature on advertising creativity and test different theoretical explanations for its effects. The analysis covers 93 data sets taken from 67 papers that provide 878 effect sizes. The results show robust positive effects but also highlight the importance of considering both originality and appropriateness when investing in advertising creativity. Moderation analyses show that the effects of advertising creativity are stronger for high- (vs. low-) involvement products, and that the effects on ad (but not brand) reactions are marginally stronger for unfamiliar brands. An empirical test of theoretical mechanisms shows that affect transfer, processing, and signaling jointly explain these effects, and that originality mainly leads to affect transfer, whereas appropriateness leads to signaling. The authors also call for further research connecting advertising creativity with sales and studying its effects in digital contexts.
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- affect transfer