This graduation report is written by Julia Klett, student at NHTV University of Applied Sciences, Breda, the Netherlands, following the study track International Media and Entertainment Management with specialization in Production. The commissioner is Jivan Shakti, the U.S. distribution channel for Jivan Shakti Herbal Remedies. These are herbal formulas, used for medical purposes in the field of Ayurveda. They have been created by Dr. Pankaj Naram, who is one of the world's foremost masters in the field of Ayurvedic Medicine.
The aim of this report is to provide Jivan Shakti with a recommendation for a suitable film genre, which serves the purpose of reaching new clients for the company. This recommendation is based on theories of persuasion from the fields of psychology and media effects on the one hand and the results of an empirical study about the effects of a custom made infomercial on the public on the other hand.
Herewith, I assert that this report is written by me, the author and all external information sources are accordingly stated.
This bachelor thesis got written in order to provide Jivan Shakti with a custom made recommendation about a suitable film genre that serves the purpose of reaching new clients for buying Jivan Shakti's products. Jivan Shakti invited me to make a short movie about the valuable work of their company and especially their founder Dr. Pankaj Naram in the interest of extending their services. The problem is that they could neither specify the genre of the short movie nor do they have a precise target group that they want to communicate to. The main goal is to find a movie genre that is suitable to a wide demographic and builds enough belief in Jivan Shakti's products and therefore also in Dr. Naram and Ayurveda, in order to motivate the audience to buy Dr. Naram's herbal supplements, sold by Jivan Shakti.
The report is separated in two halves: The literature review and the empirical study. The literature review first focuses on describing the structural elements and different style formats of the two film genres that, according to the problem analysis in chapter 3, seem to be the most natural for educating the public and selling products:
Documentaries (chapter 7) and
Infomercials (chapter 8).
As findings showed that there has already been done sufficient research on the positive effects of documentaries, their ability to contribute to knowledge acquisition, and therefore their qualification of being a suitable genre for building believe towards Jivan Shakti's products, the second part of the literature review focuses on answering the question whether knowledge about the background of a product - in this case a health care system - is enough in order to be encouraged to also buy it, or if people actually have to be motivated by clear invitations to pursue this last step, which would result in the conclusion that an infomercial or a hybrid of such is a more suitable genre than documentaries. It hence examines the four leading theories of human persuasion, which, according to social psychologists and media effects researchers, can and should be implemented in the narrative of advertisements in order to convince people about their need for a certain product. The leading elements of these theories are then applied to the structural elements of infomercials. These theories in question, described in chapter 9, are
The Transportation Imagery Model (Green & Brock, 2002)
The Social Judgment Theory (Sherif & Hovland, 1961)
The Cognitive Dissonance Theory (Festinger, 1962)
After examining these theories and the possibility of applying the elements of such on structural elements of the genre infomercial, the first half of this report results in the formulation of the following four hypotheses:
I Applied accurately within the script of the infomercial, the seven psychological factors mass appeal, need, greed, vanity, credibility, urgency, and authority as well as the basic structural elements length, open-ended question in the beginning, repetition of the sales pitch, testimonials, professional endorsements, animations, and summarizing ending can trigger the motivation to buy Jivan Shakti's products.
II The viewers of an infomercial about Dr. Naram's herbal supplements won't be transported enough for assimilating the character's opinion, feelings, attitudes and beliefs, which will result in low to no knowledge acquisition about the topic Ayurveda and therefore in a lowered motivation for buying Jivan Shakti's products.
III If the characters and the host of the show share the same wish for "wellbeing" or "more energy", as well as share the general mistrust in Ayurveda at first, then the character's and host's stances on the topic "Ayurveda" are as close to the public's stances as possible, which will lead to assimilation and therefore belief and attitude change in favor of Jivan Shakti's products.
IV If the infomercial about Ayurveda creates a dissonance between the audience's beliefs and behaviors, while offering Jivan Shakti's products as a solution to restore consonance, then an a positive attitude change towards Jivan Shakti's products will occur, leading to new and more clients.
Based on these hypotheses an infomercial was produced, which served as the material of the study in the second half of the report. This study, described in Chapter 11, focuses on proving or disproving the previously hypotheses and was based
The second half of the report, the study, focuses on proving the previously proposed hypotheses. The subjects of the survey were
Second part: surveyâ€¦
PART I - INTRODUCTION
1. COMPANY DESCRIPTION
Jivan Shakti, based in Mount Kisco, New York, was founded in 2005 and is the subsidiary of Jivan Shakti Ayurveda in Malad, India. The latter was founded in 1988 by Pankaj Naram, who is one of the world's foremost masters in the field of Ayurvedic medicine and pulse reading. In his clinics he provides treatments to patients suffering chronic physical, mental and emotional health problems.
Jivan Shakti serves as the U.S. distribution channel for Jivan Shakti herbal remedies. These formulas are created by Dr. Pankaj Naram himself and imported to the United States. Jivan Shakti also coordinates periodic health service tours to several U.S. cities for Pankaj Naram as well as for other Jivan Shakti practitioners. While touring the United States, these practitioners offer one-on-one pulse consultations during which they read and interpret the pulse, offer insights into the individual's health problems and recommend individualized herbal remedies. They also offer educational workshops to share the teachings and knowledge of their ancient lineage of Ayurveda, one of the world's oldest health-care system. Those who subscribe to Ayurveda, claim to experience improved health and immunity, greater energy and vitality, emotional stability, and as importantly, renewed hope for their lives.
2. MEANING AND FUNCTIONING OF AYURVEDA
Ayurveda, often also referred to as Ayurvedic medicine or Siddha Veda, originated in India more than 6000 years ago (Goldman, 1991) and is therefore one of the world's oldest holistic health-care systems. Influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism, balance is one of the key principles in Ayurveda.
This medical approach is based on the belief that the body is governed by three primary qualities or principles, which are called doshas. These doshas, Pita, Vata, and Kapha, are derived from the five elements: earth, air, water, fire, and space and are understood as the energies regulating all actions of the body. When the doshas are in balance, the body enjoys good health, energy and happiness. However, if they fall in imbalance, malaise, energy loss, pain, mental or emotional instability and eventually illness, may develop. In order to restore the balance, the root cause needs to be determined, which happens through a pulse consultation by a master. In the case of Jivan Shakti this master is Dr. Pankaj Naram. Through the pulse, Dr. Naram is able to name the dosha that falls out of balance. With the help of a diet that is tailored to the individual's constitution, lifestyle recommendations, plant-based herbal remedies, panchakarma (a deep cleansing and detoxifying program that cleans and rejuvenates the body at the cellular level), marma chikitsa (a massage-therapy that involves 108 subtle and sensitive energy points on the body to open energy channels in the body), and home remedies, Ayurveda can help to restore the balance. (QUELLE: DR. NARAM)
3. PROBLEM ANALYSIS
Jivan Shakti invited me to make a short movie about the valuable work of their company and especially their founder Dr. Pankaj Naram in the interest of extending their services and reaching new clients.
With almost 80% of the population in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan using Ayurveda exclusively (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine; NCCAM, 2009), Ayurvedic medicine can be called "conventional" in those countries. But this is not true for the United States. In the U.S. and other western countries, Ayurveda is considered complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and, according to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, had only been used by 200,000 U.S. adults in the previous year (NCCAM, 2009). Compared to the 313,826,172 Americans in total (United States Census Bureau, June 2012), this means that only about one in 1600 Americans have made use of Ayurvedic medicine, or, said differently: only 0.64% of the American population made the step to try Ayurveda and change their lifestyle and diet accordingly.
But why? Already 11 years ago Goldman (1991) stated, "patients dutifully swallow their pills, but today many want more than a normal checkup. They want to feel better" (p. 218) and, as integrating and balancing the body, mind, and spirit is one of the key aims in Ayurvedic medicine (NCCAM, 2009), this could be the solution for those patients.
The answers to the patients' distrust in alternative medicine are belief, attitudes and learning.
Next to other social-anthropologists who deal with the subject of human knowledge acquisition, Alcock (2001) states, in the nature of human beings are two ways of learning: experiential and intellectual. Experiential learning occurs at a primitive level - it is automatic, rapid, and often tied up with emotional reactions - and aims at helping to make a sense out of the thousands of stimulations around us from birth on. It is of vital importance for survival. Intellectual learning on the other hand is logic. With a culturally-codified knowledge base and the ability of logical analysis, human beings are able to estimate the value and meaning of most things around them. They are constantly trying to "understand" and searching for explanations for events, such as "What was that noise in the garage?" (Alcock, 2001).
The mix of experiential and intellectual learning is both, the curse and the blessing for the commercialization of Ayurveda: On the one hand, beliefs are based on learning and originate from different sources such as direct experience, watching others, logical analytical thoughts and authority. They are hardened into our nervous systems and difficult to change (Alcock, 2001), thus, official concerns about Ayurveda, such as the difficulty of giving scientific evidence for the effectiveness of Ayurvedic practices due to problems with research designs, lacking of appropriate control groups or other issues, give Ayurveda's credibility a hard time. In the U.S., medications used in Ayurveda are considered "dietary supplements" and therefore are not even required to meet the safety and efficacy standards for conventional medicines (NCCAM, 2009). In 2004 a NCCAM-funded study even published that of 70 Ayurvedic remedies purchased over-the-counter, 14 contained harmful levels of lead, mercury, and/or arsenic. "Dangerous", "nonsense" or "waste of money" are some of the crushing opinions about Ayurveda, found in several forums on the World Wide Web, such as Yahoo! Answers.
On the other hand, how can experiential and intellectual learning be the key to Ayurveda's success? Can learning deliberately be implemented into a short movie? The hypothesis is: yes, through the narrative. As Kinnebrock and Bilandzic (2011) stated, media are full of stories: Books, magazines, radio, newspapers, feature films, series, information programs like news and documentaries and even advertisement ads are presented as stories. And these stories are not only entertaining the crowds but also educating them. In fact, as Thomas Gilovich said: "Much of what we know in today's world comes not from direct experience, but from what we read and what others tell us" (p. 50). This power of stories, to build and change beliefs, has never been doubted, but always been feared (Green & Brock, 2000); historic examples of narratives used to convey values and norms are the bible or folk tales (Kinnebrock & Bilandzic, 2011). Even the Greek philosopher Aristotle thought about the perfect storytelling techniques for persuading people already in 350 B.C. (Bernard, 2007, and Hammond, Austin, Orcutt and Rosso, 2001).
But what kind of genre would serve as the best medium for such a persuading narrative in the case of Jivan Shakti, a company that sells something as serious as a health care system? On the one hand, Infomercials are said to be the most effective method of informing and educating the public (Cummings, 2010), but on the other hand documentaries are "important reality-shaping communication, because of their claim to truth" (Aufderheide, 2007, p. 5). According to Glaser (2010), in recent years, new hybrid television formats combining the genre documentary with entertaining narrative contents and presentation styles have emerged, such as docu-dramas and docu-soaps, which focus on entertaining their viewers more in order to enhance interest and attract new target audiences. Glaser (2010) examined these hybrid documentary formats psychologically with regard to their goals of bringing scientific contents closer to the viewers and leading to lasting knowledge acquisition. For this research she presented a theoretical model of narrative comprehension and engagement: The Transportation Imagery Model of Narrative Persuasion by Green and Brock (2002) and examined if this theory is compatible with stylistic elements in documentary hybrids. Glaser (2010) conducted three studies on this topic and finally came to the conclusion that stylistic elements in documentary hybrids do serve the effects presented in the theoretical model and therefore help viewers for better knowledge acquisition. Hence, the genre documentary would probably be very suitable in order to inform people about Jivan Shakti, Dr. Pankaj Naram or Ayurveda in general. But is being informed enough to build enough belief to be willing to buy Jivan Shakti's products?
And does the same count for infomercials? Are the narratives in infomercials strong enough to apply elements of knowledge acquisition, presented in Glaser's (2010) work too or do other theories of persuasion play a role for the effectiveness of infomercials? These are questions the report at hand is going to tackle within the research. As Dainton & Zelley (2010) stated: "Today, the importance of understanding the power of persuasive messages is greater than ever." In the chapter Explaining Theories of Persuasion of their book Applying Communication Theory for Professional Life - a practical introduction, Dainton & Zelley (2010) suggest two theories from the field of social psychology. They both have been developed 50 years ago, but, according to Dainton & Zelley (2010), they still play an important role in the persuasive world of advertisements today: The Social Judgment Theory by Sherif & Hovland (1961) and the Cognitive Dissonance Theory by Festinger (1962). However, Dainton & Zelley introduce these theories, but do not apply them on infomercials or advertisements of any kind in any other further studies. Thus, as these theories seemingly build and important basis for researching the effectiveness of different commercial formats, it appears as highly useful to conduct further research to fill the gap Dainton & Zelley (2010) left with their book and to:
Examine whether an infomercial would be a suitable genre to combine the Transportation Imagery Model of Narrative Persuasion and theories of social persuasion at the same time.
Examine whether an infomercial might be a stronger genre than a pure documentary, which only relies on persuasion through narratives, without implementing the sales pitch within the story.
To answer the above mentioned point two, the interest should further lie in the questions if:
The resulting infomercial would positively influence the knowledge acquisition about the topic "Ayurvedic medicine"
The resulting infomercial supports the building of belief in Dr. Pankaj Naram and
The resulting infomercial therefore serves the purpose of reaching new clients for the company Jivan Shakti.
4. PROBLEM DEFINITION
To what extent can the Transportation Imagery Model of Narrative Persuasion and theories of social persuasion be applied to elements of infomercial formats? And, can the resulting infomercial serve the purpose of supporting the knowledge acquisition about Ayurvedic medicine, the building of belief in Dr. Pankaj Naram and therefore the motivation to buy Jivan Shakti's products?
5. RESEARCH OBJECTIVE
The research objective of this thesis is to obtain insight into
The Transportation Imagery Model of Narrative Persuasion by Green and Brock (2002),
The Social Judgment Theory by Sherif & Hovland (1961),
The Cognitive Dissonance Theory by Festinger (1962),
The Elaboration Likelihood Model by Cacioppo (1986), and
Elements of classical and hybrid infomercial formats,
In order to find out if and how they can be combined into an infomercial, that
Supports the knowledge acquisition about Ayurvedic medicine
Supports the building of belief in Dr. Pankaj Naram and
Triggers the motivation to buy Jivan Shakti's products.
Resulting, this report should end in a recommendation that advises Jivan Shakti in their choice for a suitable film genre that serves the purpose of reaching new clients for the company.
6. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
What are the main components responsible for knowledge acquisition as presented in the Transportation Imagery Model of Narrative Persuasion by Green and Brock (2002)?
What are the main components responsible for persuasion as presented by the Social Judgment Theory by Sherif & Hovland (1961)?
What are the main components responsible for persuasion as presented in the Cognitive Dissonance Theory by Festinger (1962)?
What are the stylistic elements of classical and hybrid documentary formats?
How are the main components of the Transportation Imagery Model of Narrative Persuasion by Green and Brock (2002) applied to the stylistic elements of classical and hybrid documentary formats as presented by Glaser (2010)?
What are the stylistic elements of classical and hybrid infomercial formats?
How can these elements be combined with the Transportation Imagery Model of Narrative Persuasion?
How can these elements be combined with the Social Judgment Theory?
How can these elements be combined with the Cognitive Dissonance Theory?
How can these elements be combined with the Elaboration Likelihood Model?
Does the resulting infomercial serve the purpose of reaching new clients for Jivan Shakti more than a documentary would?
Does the resulting infomercial support the knowledge acquisition about Ayurvedic medicine?
Does the resulting infomercial support the building of belief in Dr. Pankaj Naram?
Does the resulting infomercial trigger the motivation to buy Jivan Shakti's products?
PART II - LITERATURE REVIEW
Mass media play a vital role in informal learning, which is especially the case with television, because it reaches such a wide range of different people. These people, accidently or intentionally, acquire knowledge from and build beliefs upon the information and opinions presented in these television programs (Glaser, 2010), such as documentaries and infomercials.
In her work, Glaser (2010) presents four narrative elements in (hybrid) documentary formats that are intentionally used in order to enhance the entertaining effect:
Further, she introduced the reader to the Transportation Imagery Model of Narrative Persuasion by Green and Brock (2002), which deals with the ability of narratives to physically and psychologically transport the reader, viewer or listener into the story and therefore trigger their knowledge acquisition and influence their attitude towards topics dealt with within the story (further explained in chapter 9.1). Glaser (2010) hypothesized that the four narrative elements in (hybrid) documentary formats enhance the transportation effect and therefore even magnify the knowledge acquisition. To test her hypotheses, she conducted an empirical study and completed her work with the conclusion that
The four narrative elements within the genre documentary indeed support the entertaining effect necessary for the physical and psychological transportation as presented in the Transportation Imagery Model of Narrative Persuasion by Green and Brock (2002) and
The four narrative elements within the genre documentary therefore serve the purpose of magnifying the knowledge acquisition.
Dramatization refers to the restructuring of chronological sequences of events into non-chronological sequences, such as cliffhangers. This restructuring opens up many possibilities to tell the same story in totally different ways, which cause different affective responses in the audience: suspense, surprise, and curiosity. According to Glaser (2010), the induction of these responses through a non-chronological structure can enhance the audience's interest and motivation for prolonged engagement and therefore leads to better knowledge acquisition of the preceding events.
Emotionalization refers to the adding of emotions by different techniques such as close-ups of facial expressions, slow motion, music, and editing pace. These techniques make it possible for the viewers to recognize the emotions of characters faster and in a more detailed way than reality would allow, which makes it easier for the viewers to re-experience the feelings of the protagonists. This in turn enhances the narrative experience of transportation and identification, which will be further explained in chapter 9.1. ON PAGEâ€¦
Moreover, Glaser (2010) states, that the information of films was better retained when they had high emotional content, compared to films with low emotional content. Her explanation for this is the fact that people instinctively focus their attention on elements that cause emotional arousal, thereby neglecting other details. Thus, information within narratives should always be combined with emotional or surprising aspects in order to achieve high attention and therefore best knowledge acquisition.
Personalization refers to the implementation of agents, such as telling the narrative from a particular perspective, using supporting actors, and using conversational style, such as direct speeches (Glaser, 2010). These agents make the narrative experience of transportation and identification with the main or any other character within the story possible. Through identification and transportation the viewer adopts the character's perspective, feelings and goals. For example can a supporting actor guide the audience through the story and tell the story from his or her fictional perspective.
Through the implementation of conversational style para-social (i.e. one-sided) interactions and relationships can occur, which make the audience react to situations happening within the narrative in a similar way as to real entities. This also leads to a heightened interest towards the characters and story content can be extended over a longer period of time and therefore lead to more knowledge acquisition.
Fictionalization refers to re-enactments or virtual reality reconstructions, used for visualization of historical or hypothesized future events for which there is no original footage. This is important to keep the story coherent, because gaps could occur otherwise. Concrete plausible visualizations enhance interest and lead to better knowledge acquisition.
Regarding the final goal of this report to give Jivan Shakti a professional advice about their genre choice, it is to say that any hybrid format of the genre documentary, that applies the four narrative elements dramatization, emotionalization, personalization, and fictionalization, would serve the purpose of knowledge acquisition about Ayurveda and building of believe towards Dr. Pankaj Naram. However, it has yet to be examined whether knowledge acquisition and belief building is enough to motivate the audience to also buy Jivan Shakti's products or if the crucial selling tactics, that are the main part of infomercials, are missing. This would make the genre infomercial possibly the stronger one, given the possibility that infomercials can offer similarly strong narratives, either by applying the elements of the Transportation Imagery Model by Green and Brock (2002) or elements of theories of persuasion.
Infomercials (a portmanteau of information and commercial) are direct response television commercials that are used by manufacturers and consumer marketers to create product awareness, drive retail sales or generate leads. They can occur in the long form (about 30 minutes) as well as in the short form (30 to 120 seconds), they can be clear to the point where it is obvious that the program is offering a product to the audience, as well as entertaining formats, such as talk shows or reality programs (Cummings, 2010). Either way, the program gives in-depth information about the product (or service) and will show a telephone number that the audience can call for ordering whatever is offered in the show.
According to Cesari & Lynch (2011), who have asked thousands of consumers to give their opinion about infomercials, most people state that they are bemused by infomercials, some even hostile. On the other hand, 90% of the same group declared to have ordered a product through an infomercial once. In the interest of recommending Jivan Shakti a film genre that serves the purpose of reaching new clients for the company, it is worthwhile to examine what motivated the consumers to have such a conflicting nature.
What convinced the viewers to call the number on screen, or, asked differently, which psychological factors make direct response to "one of the oldest and most perseverant forms of marketing in the history of the United States"? (Cesari & Lynch, 2011, p. 5)
Can an infomercial about a health care system apply these psychological factors and therefore trigger the motivation to buy Jivan Shakti's products?
8.1 SEVEN PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS IN INFOMERCIALS
Cesari & Lynch (2011) and Cummings (2010) name seven factors that play an important role in the persuading world of infomercials, seven factors, that helped the Juiceman sales go from $0 to $75 million in only four years, or the OxiClean sales, which reached $200 million in the same time frame:
Mass appeal and need
As Cesari & Lynch (2011) state, the product of an infomercial should be marketable to at least 80% of the public. Once such a product is chosen, the infomercial has to educate or inform people about the necessity of the product, its benefits and ability to reach a desired result and people will start by themselves to draw their conclusion in favor of the product. "Selling helps people. People are grateful to be sold something they truly want and need" (p. 7). With 133 million Americans - almost 1 out of every 2 adults - that suffer from a chronic disease (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012) plus uncountable acute illnesses that bother the U.S. citizens, the factors mass appeal and need can definitely be supported by a product such as a health care system.
Cummings (2010) points out the fact that people always desire to get things for free. He emphasizes multiple times that the success of a product sold via direct response television marketing depends on the offer in terms of price. As soon as people have the feeling to make a good deal when purchasing a product, they are much more likely to call the number on screen.
With vanity, Cummings (2010) addresses the illusion that the product will make the audience look or feel younger or will help them to improve their life in general. Again, this is good news for Ayurveda: As explained in chapter 2 - Meaning and functioning of Ayurveda - the main goal of ayurvedic medicine is to keep the three doshas in the human body in balance. As soon as balance is established, the person will feel more energy, and live a longer and happier life.
Credibility addresses testimonials of other people that the viewers can relate to. As Dr. Naram has seen more than 1,000,000 people, finding patients that are willing to give interviews should not be a problem for Jivan Shakti.
Urgency addresses the statement "this is not available in stores and is available only through this television offer for a limited time, or while supplies last" (Cummings, 2010, p. 48). Cummings (2010) calls this the "sell" in an infomercial. He states that if the script of an infomercial is either too technical, or too entertaining with not enough "sell" in between, it will be doomed to fail. In the case of Jivan Shakti, the crucial point to ensure the selling argument is for example the offer for a free first consultation, if the patients apply by calling the phone number given in the infomercial. Thus, also this element can easily be applied to an infomercial, even if it sells something as serious as medicine.
Authority plays a huge role. Since early childhood people have been trained to follow advice of authority figures, such as teachers or parents, which has mostly paid out; people trust authorities. Thus, the guest appearance of experts is of great importance for the infomercial's credibility and, thereby, success (Batt, Bollmer, Evans & Schlabach, 2002). In the case of Jivan Shakti the possibilities for outside experts can vary from doctors for conventional medicine, to other non-medical practitioners or even psychologists, as Dr. Naram has a wide range of mental and physical diseases he treats. These outside experts can give interviews on screen and give a neutral opinion about the effects of Ayurveda.
Summarizing, the seven basic elements that are necessary for a successful infomercial, suggested by Cesari & Lynch (2011) and Cummings (2010), don't pose impossibilities for a serious topic such as health care. Theoretically, the infomercial genre can trigger the motivation to buy Jivan Shakti's products, which means that so far the genre infomercial remains strong enough to reach new clients for Jivan Shakti. Next, the different structural and stylistic elements of classical and hybrid infomercial formats need to be presented in order to examine the possibilities of applying elements of the Transportation Imagery Model of Narrative Persuasion and theories from the field of social psychology in the following chapters.
THE BASIC STRUCTURE OF INFOMERCIALS
According to Cesari & Lynch (2011) and Cummings (2010) infomercials have six basic structural elements, described below, that are crucial for their success. In order to recommend a suitable film genre for the company Jivan Shakti, it is important to first give an insight into these structural elements and later examine whether these are compatible with the Transportation Imagery Model by Green & Brock (2002) and theories of persuasion in the upcoming chapters.
The right length
Infomercials can occur in the long form (about 30 minutes) as well as in the short form (30 to 120 seconds). For which one the director choses, depends on the product. According to Cesari & Lynch (2011), the short form is more applicable for small items that have a cost of goods of around $2 to $3, are used by 80% of the public on a daily basis and are highly demonstrable. Products that are a technology that nobody has seen before, retail for more than $40 and can't be explained within one or two sentences, will need the long form, because consumers will need the time to see the product function, hear different testimonials and have the inventors explain the technology. Ayurveda falls in the middle of both categories, as it is a product that consumers use on a daily basis on the one hand, but is also a technology that can't be explained within one or two sentences on the other hand. But since Cesari & Lynch (2011) only intended to give a rough guideline, this should not represent a problem for the success of an infomercial about Ayurveda. It rather means, that an infomercial about Ayurveda should be somewhat between long and short.
The open-ended question in the beginning
The open ended question in the beginning of an infomercial refers to a problem all infomercials have in common: in the fast pace that people are living in nowadays, they grant TV programs only seconds to convince them that they are worth watching, before they switch the channel again: "You gotta say something new; you gotta make it about me; and you've got about three seconds to do it before I tune you out" are the words Cesari & Lynch (2011) use with much apropos (p. 132). According to Cesari & Lynch (2011), one of the best ways to convince the audience, is by starting the infomercial with an open-ended question, which the consumer feels compelled to acknowledge. This part is called the tease and includes emotional or personal "pain points". An example question could be: "Are you seeing more lines and wrinkles around your eyes every morning?" (p.167). The tease also includes small sound bites of testimonials and an invitation for the critics, such as "see for yourself". In the case of Ayurveda, this can be realized through a starting question that aims at one of Ayurveda's main goals, such as providing more energy, younger looks and good health. Combined with the universal wish to "feel" better, as Goldman (1991) stated, and the 133 million Americans suffering from a chronic disease, formulating a question, that grabs the attention of a wide range of people, should not be a problem.
Repetition of the sales pitch
Once the infomercial managed to attract viewers, especially the long-form infomercials face another problem: The "remote-control-itis", as Cummings (2010, p. 54) calls it in his book. This term describes a phenomenon, that researchers have proven scientifically: When television viewers watch a direct response show that demonstrates a product that they are possibly interested in, they still won't keep watching this infomercial constantly like they would with for example a movie. Television viewers constantly switch back and forth between the channel that shows the infomercial and several other channels that offer programs with a higher entertainment factor. To ensure that the audience still won't miss any potentially convincing information before they switch to another program again, Cummings (2010) suggests to constantly have the host (or hostess) repeat the same pivotal facts of the sales pitch throughout the show. These sales pitches are called "call to action" (CTA) and include the problem that the product is able to solve, the advantages to similar products, the offer (prize, gift for purchase, paid shipping, etc) and the phone number of where to order the product. Additionally, Cummings (2010) as well as Cesari & Lynch (2011) recommend to build in a static graphic on either side of the screen, that constantly visually summarizes the key selling points, including the phone number.
According to Cesari & Lynch (2011), it is essential to have 4 to 10 testimonials, given by real-world participants who tested the product, spread over the show, with sound bites in the tease and CTA. As the bridge between the pitch person, that is selling the product, and the public, they are the key element that makes the pitch believable (Cummings, 2010). It is an absolute no-go to pay participants for their testimonials and in a situation where payment is inevitable (e.g. time pressure), a disclaimer, notifying the audience that these people have been compensated, is unavoidable. Here counts the same as for the psychological factor credibility, described in chapter 8.1.4: As Dr. Naram has seen more than 1,000,000 people, finding patients that are willing to give testimonials should not be a problem for Jivan Shakti.
These are especially important for long-form infomercials. As Cesari & Lynch (2011) state, experts "let the viewer know that someone with actual experience and credibility says you are telling the truth." (p. 174) They have the same effects as authorities described in chapter 8.1.6 and can also be given by any outside expert, such as doctors for conventional medicine, other healing practitioners or even psychologists.
Animations are also especially important for long-form infomercials. They can show consumers the product in a way that is not possible through real life demonstrations, such as the inside effects painkillers have on the human body. In the case of Ayurveda, animations could for example demonstrate the meaning of the balance inside every human body or the effects the herbal supplements have on the three energies, called doshas.
A summary at the end
For the end of the infomercial it is suggested to summarize the information given in the middle part. "The structure of an infomercial is like the structure of a good speech or presentation: tell your audience what you are going to say, say it, and then tell them what you said." (Cesari & Lynch, 2011, p. 175)
So far, the basic structural elements of the genre infomercial seem to be suitable even for a serious topic such as alternative medicine. It is now interesting to go into more depth and examine the different formats.
8.3 SHOW STYLES AND FORMATS
As explained by Cesari & Lynch (2011) and Cummings (2010), an infomercial cannot only be written in a long or short form, including the basic structural elements described in chapter 8.2, but also in different styles. In order to be able to examine whether elements of the Transportation Imagery Model of Narrative Persuasion and theories from the field of social psychology can be combined with the infomercial genre, it is important to also introduce the different formats an infomercial can take on. The chapters below provide an overview over the different formats as suggested by Cesari & Lynch (2011).
8.3.1 The News Talk Show
Usually used for money, weight loss or health issues, this format makes use of a host that invites an expert to discuss a supplement or book, etc. As the topic Ayurveda and Dr. Naram himself have a wide scope that asks for sufficient explanation and examples, a talk show in which an expert can cover all the questions necessary to understand this topic, seems to be very suitable.
8.3.2 The Daytime Women's Talk Show
Same as with the News Talk Show, this format usually deals with health issues, weight loss or beauty products. The difference is that this style describes a situation in which two to eight women sit around a table and discuss a product, produced by one or in some cases all of these women. This means that these women are not only participants for testimonials, but also the experts. If the movie for Jivan Shakti was aiming on only women as new clients, this format would be as suitable as The News Talk Show. But as Jivan Shakti is trying to reach both genders, the format Daytime Women's Talk show drops out.
8.3.3 The Demonstration Show
Usually applied for kitchen products, housewares, hardware products, etc., this format has a host who demonstrates the product(s) on a set. The host will show the features of the product, the benefits, the ease of use, etc. Ayurveda or medicine in general is not a product that can be demonstrated within a few minutes. It needs weeks or sometimes even months before it shows its effects and, thus, the format Demonstration Show is not suitable for Jivan Shakti.
8.3.4 The Storymercial
For long form outdated, but recommended for short form. A scripted show with fictional characters, which have a certain problem which can be solved through the product. Examples for well-made storymercials that Cesari & Lynch (2011) mention, are ads by dating agencies: "all actors and actresses look like legitimate couples." (p.170) As Ayurveda already has the reputation of being a lie or being sold by "snake oil salesman", using actors and therefore scripting the movie, does not seem to be very belief building. Therefore, also the storymercial drops out as an appropriate format for Jivan Shakti.
8.3.5 The Host Tour
This format is usually chosen for complex products, new technologies with many components or health-based products. It can be shot in a studio, outdoors, at a home or live. It is similar to the demonstration show, in respective of the host who is walking the audience through the product. The difference here is, that the host can throw in outside segments, which demonstrate features of the product, that he might not be able to show himself. An outside segment can also be a "virtual world" in which the host interacts with animated graphic components. According to Cesari & Lynch (2011), due to its compelling and informative approach, this is a very promising format. Same as with the News Talk Show, this format sounds like a good solution for Jivan Shakti, as it offers the opportunity to include interviews with other patients or sequences of little movies in which patients have been followed by a camera team for months, while they were trying Ayurveda for the first time. Through a Host Tour, not only the functionality of Ayurveda can be explained, but also insights into the background of Dr. Naram and his patients can be offered.
8.3.6 The Reality Approach
According to Cesari & Lynch (2011), this is the "emerging new prince of infomercial" that "will no doubt become king" (p. 170). It makes use of self-shot videos by the consumers and is therefore something like a filmed Amazon.com review. This format still has a host, but only for introducing the videos and tying the information together. Also this format is suitable for a topic such as Ayurveda, as it offers insights into patient's private experiences with this alternative medicine and therefore an opportunity to build trust towards the effectiveness of Ayurveda.
Only the formats
News Talk Show,
The Host Tour, and
are possibilities for Jivan Shakti, as these are the only formats, that can communicate the topic Ayurveda in an appropriate way. The next chapter will give insights into theories of persuasion in order to examine whether the narratives of infomercials are suitable to apply those.
THEORIES OF PERSUASION
The art of affecting individuals in their thinking and acting through narratives has probably been a phenomenon since the cradle of humanity, but ever since Dale Carnegie first published his best-selling book How to Win Friends and Influence People in the mid-1930s, persuasion has been both a popular and profitable subject (Dainton & Zelley, 2010). Especially with the rise of mass media and the widely used propaganda in both World Wars, which has sometimes been a powerful influence on public opinion (Aufderheide, 2007), many psychologists, theoreticians and researchers came up with various theories of persuasion, transportation, judgment and media enjoyment. These theories are an attempt to understand and explain how fictional and non-fictional narratives can have an "impact on the knowledge, attitudes, and expectations readers bring to bear on the judgments they make in everyday life" (Gerring & Rapp, 2004, p. 266). In order to examine whether the narrative of the infomercial is strong enough to apply elements of
The Transportation Imagery Model of Narrative Persuasion by Green & Brock (2002),
The social Judgement Theory by Sherif & Hovland (1961),
The Cognitive Dissonance Theory by Festinger (1962) and
The Elaboration Likelihood Model by Cacioppo (1986),
the following chapters provide insights into those very theories of persuasion and their key elements.
9.1 TRANSPORTATION IMAGERY MODEL OF NARRATIVE PERSUASION (Green & Brock, 2002)
The psychologist and assistant Professor for psychology Dr. Melanie C. Green and Timothy C. Brook, Professor of psychology at the Ohio State University conducted empirical studies on the subject of transportation into narrative worlds and developed The Transportation Imagery Model of Narrative Persuasion (2002). Even though Green and Brook implemented these studies on examples of written narratives, they explicitly stated that the Transportation Imagery Model is not limited to those, but also applies to viewers, listeners or any other recipient of narrative information, hence, also audiences of documentaries and infomercials.
Basically, the Transportation Imagery Model refers to cognitive, emotional, and imagery engagement in a story and implies that individuals become absorbed by narratives in a way that "parts of the world of origin become inaccessible" (Green & Brock, 2000, p. 702). This can happen on a physical level - the transported person may not notice the activities of other people around him/her for example - as well as on a psychological level - the transported person may feel emotions such as sadness or anger, even though the events occurring in the story have nothing to do with his/her personal life. This means that the person is experiencing a "distancing from reality" (Green & Brock, 2000, p. 702). When returning from this journey people are somewhat changed by the experience, which, according to Green & Brock (2002), can affect their beliefs and attitudes. To explain this belief or attitude change within the transportation imagery model, Green & Brook (2002) pointed out three mechanisms:
Transported readers focus all their mental capacity on the narrative and are therefore less likely to disbelief or counter argue with story claims, even if the message opposes their own beliefs. This agreeing does not happen willfully, but rather because with such a workload that transportation imposes, the mental system is too busy to actively influence this process (Kinnebrock & Bolandzic, 2011).
Experiences through transportation often feel like real experiences to the reader, viewer or listener and hence have a strong influence on the person's belief and attitude forming.
The transported person often establishes strong feelings towards the story characters, such as friendship or hatred. The experiences or feelings these characters encounter throughout the story may have a great impact on the person's attitudes and beliefs in real life.
For the infomercial this means that in order to be strong enough to successfully persuade people, it cannot be presented by the host alone. Additional videos that offer enough material for the viewers to be transported, i.e. characters, their backgrounds, feelings, experiences with Ayurveda and goals for the future, are absolutely necessary. This supports the previously posed hypothesis that the Host Tour, Reality Approach, and News Talk Show. The Expert and the Host will have to intensively talk about the stories of certain patients, using words that make the spoken conversation visual enough to be transported into its narrative.
Further, the study by Green & Brock (2000) showed that participants were equally transported into fiction as well as non-fiction stories, hence the source of the story did not matter. Also, Green and Brock could not detect a difference between genders in relation to transportation; men and women were transported equally, which is positive in the case of Jivan Shakti, as their target group contains both genders at the same time. Additionally, Green and Brock (2000) found out that the more transported participants were, the more they altered their real-world beliefs in response to experiences in a story world. In order to ensure the deepest transportation possible, Kinnebrock & Bilandzic (2011) went a step further and extended the transportation model with the concept of narrativity. In film theory, narrativity refers to the techniques by which a story is presented by the filmmaker and how these are interpreted by the viewer. According to Kinnebrock & Bilandzic (2011), narrativity factors improve transportation and thus positively influence persuasion. As Kinnebrock & Bilandzic (2011) say, narrativity comes in three layers, with each layer having a different influence on the reader, viewer or listener. These levels are called:
The story level
The discourse level
The structure level
This first level, the structure level, "describes events in a specific chronological order and a causal connection, which forms a reasoned and coherent unit (with beginning, middle and end)" (Kinnebrock & Bilandzic, 2011, p. 5). This level serves in giving the story more particularity and includes following elements:
Incisive events that change the development of the story fundamentally,
Lasting consequences of the actions,
The uniqueness of an event rather than a permanent replication of similar events,
Clues for factuality,
The indication of the precise location of time and space in the story,
The possibility for different courses of action,
Clear, changing relationships among the different characters within the story,
The second level, the discourse level, deals with the presentation of the story and includes the following components:
The chronological order,
Point of view,
Voice (if there is a narrator),
Style (referring either to the language or to visualization).
Further, in relation to this level, Kinnebrock & Bilandzic (2011) discussed two narrativity factors:
The dramatic mode, which basically means that the dialogues and actions of the characters are directly shown on screen rather than being narrated, which is supposed to give the viewer the feeling of actually witnessing what is happening in the story.
And craftsmanship, which stands for the presentation, the stylistically well made text, which helps the viewer, reader and listener to process the story undisturbed.
The third level, the structure level, includes narrative patterns with which the plots and characters are presented. The narrative can either be presented as autonomous whole (clear beginning, middle and end) or with discourses - the sequential arrangement of events. As Kinnebrock & Bilandzic (2011) cited from Sternberg (2001), the "interplay between temporalities" (p. 7), this is, the distinction between the chronological order of events and the order in which they are told, is essential to increase narrativity and therefore transportation.
All three levels pose difficulties for the infomercial genre, because in order to implement the points named by Kinnebrock & Bilandzic, the inclusion of at least one character who's story can be described and followed into detail is even more required than before, when the connection between the Transportation Imagery Model (Green & Brock, 2002) was hypothesized with "characters, their backgrounds, feelings, experiences with Ayurveda and goals for the future, are absolutely necessary." (p. 28). But looking back at the structural elements of infomercials, described in chapter 8.2, none of the narrativity factors is actually realized in a default infomercial. The closest element is the Testimonial, but even that is usually only used for convincing the viewer about the effectiveness of a product, not for giving insights into the character's personal life, feelings or relationships as such. It has therefore further be examined, if a default infomercial would offer a story that is sufficient enough to transport the audience, in order to change their attitudes and beliefs in favor of Jivan Shakti's products.
Further, Kinnebrock & Bilandzic (2011) made clear that in order for a story to be strong enough to transport viewers, readers or listeners, it has to be self-contained, which means that people should be able to understand the story with the information given by it, rather than having additional knowledge. In opposite to the narrativity factors, this last point represents less of a problem for a standard infomercial as this only means that Jivan Shakti's product - Ayurvedic supplements by Dr. Naram - don't only the herbal remedies have to be presented and offered, but also Ayurveda itself, Dr. Naram and his background and goals have to be explained.
9.2 THE SOCIAL JUDGMENT THEORY (Sherif & Hovland, 1961)
The social judgment theory (SJT) is a persuasion theory developed by Muzafer Sherif and Carl Hovland and focuses on people's assessment of persuasive messages (Dainton & Zelley, 2010). SJT proposes that people accept the content of a communicator's story depending on their stance on a particular topic. If the position of the communicator was only a short distance from the subject's position, assimilation would occur, actual discrepancy would be underestimated and the communicator's attitude would be drawn towards the person's own attitude (assimilation effect). This also counts vice versa: If the position of the communicator is far away from the person's position, the actual discrepancy would be overestimated (contrast effect) (Burgoon, 1982). These attitudes a person has towards a certain topic can be placed into three categories:
The latitude of acceptance, which describes all those ideas and opinions that a person finds acceptable.
The latitude of rejection, which is the opposite of the first and includes all the ideas that a person finds unacceptable.
The latitude of noncommitment, which is the neutral middle course and describes all the ideas for which people have no opinion. (Dainton & Zelley, 2010).
This means, if the message falls clearly in the receiver's latitude of rejection or latitude of acceptance, persuasion will either be not successful at all, or the audience is not persuaded but just reinforced in what he/she believed already. According to Dainton & Zelley (2010), true persuasion can only occur, if the sent message falls into the individual's latitude of noncommitment or at the edges of his/her latitude of acceptance.
Another important factor is also the ego-involvement: People have to be personally interested in the topic to begin with. If the issue is unimportant for the person, then this person is not expected to show much assimilation, even though the communicator's position might meet the person's position (Burgoon, 1982). On the other hand, this also means that once a person with low ego-involvement is actually listening, it will also be more open to alternative possibilities than a person with high ego-involvement: "the more ego-involved a person is, the larger the latitude of rejection that person will have" (Dainton & Zelley, 2010).
To sum up, according to the SJT, people are open to persuasion in two different situations.
1) They have a fair interest in a topic.
2) The communicator's stance on the topic complies with the audience's stances.
As the target group of Jivan Shakti is neither clearly defined, nor does the company have a red line in the condition of their patients, it is difficult to determine a clear specific field of interest of the audience that the infomercial could cover. Instead, it will be important that the topic area discussed in the infomercial is attractive to a broad demographic. In the case of Ayurveda this would be the general "wellbeing" in daily life or "more energy", as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine found out in several studies.
To keep the character's or narrator's stance on the topic as close to the audience's stances as possible, the host as well as the characters within the implemented videos have to connect with the viewers on a personal level. They should be understanding and embodying the average person by being "like you and me". The characters need to share the common mistrust in Ayurveda at first, which derives from missing evidence for its effectiveness as well as from articles about its possible toxicity, as stated in the introduction section.
9.3 THE COGNITIVE DISSONANCE THEORY (Festinger, 1962)
The cognitive dissonance theory (CDT), developed by Leon Festinger (1957) states that influence is an intrapersonal event, rather than an injection of new or refined beliefs into others, as it was assumed in the social influence theory. According to CDT, this intrapersonal event occurs when incongruence between a person's attitudes and behavior creates a tension, which can only be resolved if the person either alters its beliefs or its behavior, thereby effecting a change (Dainton & Zelley, 2010).
According to Danton & Zelley (2010), there are three possible relationships between beliefs and behaviors:
Irrelevance refers to beliefs and behaviors that simply have nothing to do with each other. For example: A person's belief in fighting animal cruelty and its position on preserving the environment are completely unrelated.
Consonance means that the beliefs and actions are congruent. Using the same example as above, this means that the person against animal cruelty is consonant with its beliefs if he or she is a member of The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
Dissonance occurs when two pieces of information contradict each other. Again, using the same example, this means that in order to be dissonant with its beliefs, the person against animal cruelty is forced to wear a fur coat. According to CDT, dissonance will cause discomfort, which the person can only overcome by either shifting his/her beliefs or by changing his/her behavior.
Another point in CDT is perception: a person always tries to minimize dissonance by selectively perceiving various stimuli. Dainton & Zelley (2010) mention four possibilities a person has:
Selective exposure means that a person will actively try to avoid information that is inconsistent with earlier established beliefs or behaviors. Coming back to the earlier mentioned animal cruelty vs. fur coat example, this would mean that a person that likes fur coats is not likely to attend an ASPCA demonstration.
With selective attention is meant a situation in which the person has no choice but being confronted with opinions that are incongruent with his/her own beliefs. Being in this situation, the person will actively only attend to information that reaffirms his or her beliefs, disregarding any information that fails to support the person's views.
Selective interpretation means that individuals carefully decipher equivocal information so that it is perceived as being coherent with already established beliefs. For example, the person wearing a fur coat on an ASPCA demonstration might say that the animals used for producing the coats were sick and doomed to die anyway.
With selective retain CDT proposes that people easily dismiss information that otherwise might create dissonance. A nice example Dainton & Zelley (2010) use is how people "conveniently forget how much they spent on that rundown beach house" (p. 118). This last point is also why CDT is often considered a postdecision theory, meaning that in order to convince themselves that a decision (or behavior) was okay, people tempt to persuade themselves after a decision has been made.
This means that if a persuader can put the individual in a situation which creates dissonance while offering a solution to restore consistency, the chances for the individual to adopt these suggested new behaviors or beliefs are high (Dainton & Zelley, 2010). In the case of an infomercial about Ayurveda, this can be achieved by reminding the audience of something they want to achieve on the one side, pointing out their contrary behavior on the other side and offering Ayurveda as the bridge between wants and behavior. In this case it could be Ayurveda as the healthy, easy, natural solution for the dilemma between the wish for wellbeing versus an unhealthy, stressful lifestyle with fast food and chemical medication on the other side.
CONCLUSION AND DEDUCTION OF HYPOTHESES
In order to recommend Jivan Shakti a suitable film genre that will serve the purpose of reaching new clients for buying their products - ayurvedic medicine by Dr. Naram - this report was based on the assumption that one of Jivan Shakti's main problems is the bad reputation that alternative medicine generally has in the United States. It was further based on the conjecture that the key to improving this reputation lies in equipping their future clients with knowledge about Dr. Naram and his ayurvedic treatments in order to change their belief and attitudes towards these topics and finally motivate them to buy Jivan Shakti's products. Due to Jivan Shakti's wish to achieve this knowledge acquisition and belief building through a short movie, this report further analyzed the different effects of the two genres in focus: documentaries and infomercials. It observed that the genre documentary has already been sufficiently studied by Glaser (2010) in order to determine that it would with certainty serve the purpose of imparting knowledge, most certainly also about Ayurveda. As supportive elements for this knowledge acquisition Glaser (2010) detected four entertaining narrative elements, which perfectly matched the idea of transportation, and therefore attitude change, proposed by the Transportation Imagery Model by Green & Brock (2002), which in turn Glaser (2010) labeled as the most important theory for narrative persuasion:
This report at hand summarized these elements in chapter 7 and pointed out that the genre infomercial, in order to have an equally persuading effect as the genre documentary, requires either a narrative that is equally transporting or ot