Source of message


In communication through advertisement for creating product awareness in consumers, the source or the person communicating the message is of great importance. This is reflected in the philosophies of great advertising men of our times, David Ogilvy, William Bernbach etc the source credibility is as important to the success of a message as its contents.

David Ogilvy has advocated the use of celebrities to communicate the message. Leo Burnett was for using the “common man� approach to communicate the message as he believed that a common customer associates himself or herself with the “next door neighbor� Bernbach strongly advocated the use of a credible communicator when he writes that “what you say is not so important as how you say it .Illustrating his philosophy, he said that one could have an excellent message said by a weak person and no “tremors� may be felt. But the same message said by a strong person can rock the world.

The source of the message thus plays a key role in determining its effectiveness. The source credibility is builds up the customers’ liking, belief and the extent to which it is perceived as an expert’s trustworthy opinion. For example, in a TV commercial for shampoo, it is necessary to show an attractive woman with long flowing hair. A model with blonde hair may not be able to successfully communicate all the key benefits of shampoo to an Indian woman who treasures her hair. Likewise, a dental floss or toothpaste “that fight cavity and prevents decay� is best believed when communicated by a dentist.

Likeability reflects source attractiveness to the target market and hence represents the source’s ability to get and hold undivided attention of the target audience. Factors like softness, naturalness, humor, candor, etc. make the source likeable by the target audience. This explains the use of celebrities in textile advertising.

It should be remembered that in marketing communications, the source of message has the role of an opinion leader to play. The target audience tends to associate itself with and establish a role relationship with the source. Sometimes it may so happen that the text of the message and source’s credibility may not be congruent. In other words, the audience may not perceive the source as an opinion leader or credible enough to recommend a product.

When there is a congruency between the message and the source the hypothesis is that customer will try to bring about congruency between the two by either disbelieving the opinion leader but having faith in the message or the opposite may happen. The principle of congruity states that communicators can use their good image to reduce target customers’ negative feelings towards the brand, even though it might reduce their own image in the target audiences’ mind.

A good example of the above hypothesis is an advertisement portraying Amitabh Bachan and a smart boy on Hajmola. The personality of Amitabh and the talking of the boy communicates that Hajmola is harmless and can be taken not only for digestion but for taste also. Similarly an advertisement of coca cola with the actor Amir Khan may increase the sale and competitiveness against the well established Pepsi.