Does It Pay to Be Real? Understanding Authenticity in TV Advertising

Maren Becker*, Nico Wiegand, Werner J. Reinartz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Marketing managers and creatives alike believe that authenticity is an essential element for effective advertising. However, no common understanding of authenticity in advertising exists, and empirical knowledge about its impact on consumer behavior is limited. In this study, the authors use a comprehensive literature review and qualitative studies to identify four dimensions of authenticity in an advertising context. By examining 323 television ads across 67 brands and four years, they investigate these dimensions’ effects on the sales performance of advertised products. Because the impact of authenticity may depend on brand or product characteristics, the authors also analyze how these effects vary with brand size or across hedonic and utilitarian products. The results suggest that authenticity influences consumer behavior in a more nuanced manner than previously recognized. For instance, whereas an ad congruent with the brand’s essence has a positive effect on sales in most cases, an overly honest advertising message can actually hurt performance; the latter is true especially for hedonic products, for which consumers rely more on subjective information when making purchase decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-50
JournalJournal of Marketing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • advertising content
  • advertising cues
  • advertising effectiveness
  • authenticity


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