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When white space is more than “burning money”: Economic signaling meets visual commercial rhetoric

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  • Pracejus, John W.
  • O'Guinn, Thomas C.
  • Olsen, G. Douglas

Abstract

Previous work has demonstrated that the use of white space in advertising communicates specific meanings to consumers and that this meaning derives from particular historical moments in the art and visual rhetoric of 20th-century North America. The use of “empty space” in ads, however, can also be conceptualized as a signal of burning money, which could influence consumer perceptions about the size and power of a company through completely different mechanisms. Somewhat surprisingly, nearly all empirical demonstrations of burning money in a consumer advertising context also manipulated white space, leaving the mechanism of action unclear. The results of the three studies discussed here indicate that white space is different from other ways of burning money, and its meanings are sufficiently different across cultures, thus providing stronger support for the rhetorical explanation than the economic signaling one. The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for previous research that found that consumers infer quality from the economic signals of burning money.

Suggested Citation

  • Pracejus, John W. & O'Guinn, Thomas C. & Olsen, G. Douglas, 2013. "When white space is more than “burning money”: Economic signaling meets visual commercial rhetoric," International Journal of Research in Marketing, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 211-218.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ijrema:v:30:y:2013:i:3:p:211-218
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ijresmar.2012.11.004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kevin L. Sample & Henrik Hagtvedt & S. Adam Brasel, 2020. "Components of visual perception in marketing contexts: a conceptual framework and review," Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Springer, vol. 48(3), pages 405-421, May.
    2. Kostoula Margariti, 2021. "“White” Space and Organic Claims on Food Packaging: Communicating Sustainability Values and Affecting Young Adults’ Attitudes and Purchase Intentions," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(19), pages 1-26, October.
    3. Yunhui Huang & Kai H. Lim & Zhijie Lin & Shunping Han, 2019. "Large Online Product Catalog Space Indicates High Store Price: Understanding Customers’ Overgeneralization and Illogical Inference," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 30(3), pages 963-979, September.

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