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After many years of being legally banned, comparative advertising has recently been permitted in Germany. So far, advertising practitioners and researchers have neither reached a consensus on its effectiveness nor on its usefulness for corporate communications. While findings from the U.S. literature suggest that comparative advertising can be effective in several contexts in the United States, there has been a lack of research on whether comparative advertising can be effective in Germany. Because of cultural factors, it should not be automatically concluded that comparative advertisements will be effective in Germany. The authors explore the effectiveness of comparative advertising in Germany by analyzing two separate campaigns, one that theoretically lends itself to effective comparative advertising and one that does not. A general theory that makes predictions about the effectiveness of comparative advertising is proposed and tested. While an analysis of two campaigns is not sufficient to establish the generalized efficacy of comparative advertising in Germany, the results clearly support the idea that comparative advertising can be effective in some contexts in Germany. However, as predicted by our theory, there are other conditions under which comparative advertising is not effective.
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