The Impact of Colour on the Effectiveness of Threat Appeals in Social Marketing Campaigns

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paper


Research has established that colours can influence the effectiveness of ads. The current study focuses on a specific type of ads, namely threat appeals, which are often used in social marketing campaigns to inform people about possible (health) risks and to convince them to adopt the recommended behaviour or to take preventive measures. The objective is to examine how the colour used in the background of such a threat appeal can influence its effectiveness. More specifically, we want to find out whether the usage of less or more pleasure-evoking colours will affect threat and efficacy appraisals, evoked fear and the behavioural intention to do something to avert the threat. Moreover, we want to test whether the impact of the background colour on the effectiveness of threat appeals is moderated by the threat level presented in the threat appeal. To this aim an experimental study is conducted with a 2x2 full factorial design, manipulating the level of threat and the background colour (yellow versus blue) in a flu awareness campaign promoting preventive flu shots. The findings confirm that the background colour of the threat appeal does indeed have an impact on its effectiveness, regardless of the level of threat presented in the message.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAIC Colour 2013: 12th Congress of the International Colour Association
EditorsLindsay Macdonald, Stephen Westland, Sophie Wuerger
Place of PublicationNewcastle upon Tyne
PublisherColour group
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)978-0-901623-02-7
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2013
Event12th Congress of the International Colour Association - Newcastle Gateshead, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 Jul 201312 Jul 2013


Conference12th Congress of the International Colour Association
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityNewcastle Gateshead

Bibliographical note

Lindsay MacDonald, Stephen Westland and Sophie Wuerger


  • Colour
  • Threat appeals


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