The present investigation addressed the question of whether a specially targeted, professionally produced TV ad campaign can affect a trait as subtle and as complex as women¿s self-esteem. Researchers examined the effects of test ad messages on women¿s ¿body-esteem¿ and ways that ¿non-ad¿ media suggest a beautiful woman should look like. An experiment examined the effect of complementary and contravening messages on women¿s self-esteem. This experiment also contrasted effects of media formats on female viewer¿s self-esteem to differentiate between ad persuasion and entertainment fare. In order to explain results of this experiment, researchers also examined patterns of viewer elaborations in response to test messages as well as the extent to which viewers¿ thoughts were likely influenced by message structure, symbols, and appeals.
Results of this experiment indicate that TV ad messages designed to improve women¿s perception, imagination, and emotions about their bodies can improve self-esteem over a short period of time. Moreover, results indicate that non-ad formats such as movies influence viewer¿s self-esteem much more strongly over the short term than TV ads do. Results demonstrate that the link between viewer responses to test messages and changes in viewer self-esteem requires further, more targeted research.