When white space is more than "burning money": Economic signaling meets visual commercial rhetoric

John W. Pracejus, Thomas C. O'Guinn, Grant Olsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Previous work has demonstrated that the use of white space in advertising communicates specific meanings to consumers and that this meaning derives from particular historical moments in the art and visual rhetoric of 20th-century North America. The use of "empty space" in ads, however, can also be conceptualized as a signal of burning money, which could influence consumer perceptions about the size and power of a company through completely different mechanisms. Somewhat surprisingly, nearly all empirical demonstrations of burning money in a consumer advertising context also manipulated white space, leaving the mechanism of action unclear. The results of the three studies discussed here indicate that white space is different from other ways of burning money, and its meanings are sufficiently different across cultures, thus providing stronger support for the rhetorical explanation than the economic signaling one. The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for previous research that found that consumers infer quality from the economic signals of burning money.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-218
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Research in Marketing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Branding
  • Burning money
  • Design
  • Persuasion knowledge
  • Social history
  • Visual persuasion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


Dive into the research topics of 'When white space is more than "burning money": Economic signaling meets visual commercial rhetoric'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this