Why do I identify with thee? Let me count three ways: How ad context influences race-based character identification

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Abstract

Three quasi-experimental studies with nonstudent samples reveal that one's ability to identify with a character shown in an ad based on shared race depends on the construction of the ad and the context in which characters are depicted. Results show that race-based identification overshadows both gender- and role-based identification for a racially targeted ad for distinctive black subjects but occurs for both black and white subjects for a culturally ambiguous ad. Further, results show that race-based character identification is absent when black and white characters are depicted in a mainstream inclusive ad and that dominant cultural norms predominate. Theoretical and managerial implications regarding the contextuality of race-based identification, processing of source cues, and construction of ads in a pluralistic society are discussed. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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