Lightening fast disclaimers at the end of radio and television ads give the impression advertisers are trying to pull a fast one, unless they are for a trusted brand. “If you’re promoting a brand consumers don’t know or don’t trust, use a slow disclaimer,” says Eli J. Finkel, associate professor of psychology at Northwestern University. “Because consumers don’t know whether they can trust you, you have to be careful to avoid seeming sneaky. Fast disclaimers can seem sneaky.
“In contrast, if you’re promoting a trusted brand, feel free to save time by using a fast disclaimer. Use your precious advertising seconds promoting your product rather than spending them on your disclaimer.”
A new study, published online in the Journal of Consumer Research, shows that when consumers either lack trustworthy information about an advertised brand or believe that the brand is not trustworthy, fast disclaimers undermine their purchase intention. In contrast, when consumers trust an advertised brand, they are unaffected by the disclaimer speed. “Speak slowly or carry a trusted brand,” says Kenneth C. Herbst, assistant professor of marketing at Wake Forest University Schools of Business and study co-author.
The findings have practical implications for advertisers and policymakers. For example, policies that regulate disclaimer content but not disclaimer speed could systematically favor some companies over others.
Researchers from Duke University and St. Joseph University contributed to the study.