Can Warning labels mitigate Effects of Advertising Message Claims in Celebrity-Endorsed Instagram-Based Electronic Cigarette Advertisements? Influence on Social Media Users’ E-Cigarette Attitudes and Behavioral Intentions

In press, Journal of Marketing Communications.

Abstract: Electronic cigarette brands are increasingly using social media to advertise their products. This study examined effects of advertising message claim type (reduced risk [“Healthier than regular cigarettes”], cessation [“Quit smoking using e-cigarettes”] versus no message claim) and health warning labels (presence versus absence) in celebrity-endorsed Instagram e-cigarette brand advertisements. A 3×2 between-subjects experiment was conducted through an online questionnaire, with participants (N = 275) randomly assigned to 1 of 6 experimental conditions. Presence of a health warning label exerted significant main effects on attitude towards the ad, intention to use e-cigarettes, and brand attitude, and interacted with message claim type to affect these dependent measures. Health consciousness, perceived information value and celebrity identification also significantly moderated between presence of a health warning label and attitude towards the ad, intention to use e-cigarettes and brand attitude. Presence of health warning labels in social media-based e-cigarette ads may therefore mitigate potential effects of positive advertising claims in these ads. Implications for regulatory agencies and future research are discussed.

Joe Phua 

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