Two birds and one stone: Purposeful polysemy in minority targeting and advertising evaluations
Current social trends leading to greater consumer diversity require that advertisers pay increasing attention to minority groups within society. This paper answers recent calls for research into the effects of purposeful polysemy, or strategic ambiguity, in minority targeting. The results of a quasi-experiment with gay and heterosexual male respondents in the context of gay window advertising demonstrate not only significant positive target market effects of covert minority targeting (i.e., ambiguous ad cues), but also the existence of negative non-target market effects. Emotional responses fully mediate these effects. Our results further demonstrate the importance of individual differences and product category by suggesting, for example, that gay men who are open about their sexual orientation can be targeted using gay window ads when the product category is congruent with male stereotypes and with mainstream ads when the product category is incongruent with male stereotypes.