The repetition-break plot structure makes effective television advertisements

Jeffrey Loewenstein, Rajagopal Raghunathan, Chip Heath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The plot structure in television advertisements can enhance consumers' brand attitudes and foster increasing consumer and industry recognition. A corpus analysis of contemporary television advertisements shows that advertisements using the repetition-break plot structure are a small percentage of television advertisements but a large percentage of Clio and Effie award-winning advertisements. They are also likely to attain postings and views on YouTube. Three experiments using television advertisements from contemporary brands show that repetition-break advertisements are persuasive, leading to more favorable brand attitudes and greater purchase intentions than similar plot structures and that this effect is attributable in part to the advertisements being more engaging. Thus, a theoretically explainable and generic plot structure yields effective advertisements. The result is a new and flexible tool for marketing professionals to use to generate advertisements, with guidelines for when and why it should and should not be effective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-119
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Marketing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Ad structure
  • Advertising
  • Engagement
  • Narratives
  • Repetition-break
  • Surprise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing

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