Creativity via Cartoon Spokespeople in Print Ads: Capitalizing on the Distinctiveness Effect

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2008

Publication Title

The Journal of Advertising


Although some research has examined the effects of animation in interactive advertisements, no research has investigated consumer responses to animated effects or cartoon spokespeople in print ads. Distinctiveness theory suggests that an ad can be considered distinctive if it has atypical traits that differentiate it from other marketing stimuli. Distinctiveness theory should be readily applied to advertising research, as advertising agencies and clients continuously strive to make their advertisements different, noticeable, and memorable to consumers. Our research applies distinctiveness theory to a creative caricature or cartoon spokesperson in print ads in a between-subjects experiment. Results of the study reveal that compared with a human spokesperson in the same advertisement, the creative use of cartoon spokespeople in print ads leads to more positive consumer advertising outcomes, including attitude toward the ad, attitude toward the brand, and purchase intention of the advertised brand. The implications for practitioners and directions for future creativity and distinctiveness research are discussed.


© 2008 American Academy of Advertising. All rights reserved.