Making sense of metaphor: The impact of target-group-specific headlines in direct mail
Metaphors are used extensively to cut through the increasing volume of noise in contemporary, hyper-competitive markets. Whilst there is a growing body of literature on the impact of metaphor in marketing communications, much of it concerns style, whilst relatively little is understood about the relationship between creative execution and target audience response. In an exploratory study designed to measure the effectiveness of metaphor in direct mail, we introduce and investigate the concept of target-group-specificity. We find that carefully crafted headlines that contain target-group-specific (TGS) metaphors – in other words, both content and style created specifically for a particular audience – outperform less target-specific metaphors and their literal alternatives. Positive results are found in relation to attention, attitude and behavioural intention. The findings offer evidence that TGS metaphors are more persuasive than the alternative and have strong advertising effects.