Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 117, Issue 2, pp 297–311 | Cite as

Advertisement Disclaimer Speed and Corporate Social Responsibility: “Costs” to Consumer Comprehension and Effects on Brand Trust and Purchase Intention

  • Kenneth C. Herbst
  • Sean T. Hannah
  • David Allan


It is not uncommon for advertisers to present required product disclaimers quickly at the end of advertisements. We show that fast disclaimers greatly reduce consumer comprehension of product risks and benefits, creating implications for social responsibility. In addition, across two studies, we found that disclaimer speed and brand familiarity interact to predict brand trust and purchase intention, and that brand trust mediated the interactive effect of brand familiarity and disclaimer speed on purchase intention. Our results indicate that fast disclaimers actually reduce brand trust and purchase intention for unfamiliar brands, suggesting that there are both economic and social responsibility reasons to use less rapid disclaimers for unfamiliar brands. Conversely, disclaimer speed had no negative effects on brand trust and purchase intention for highly familiar brands, presenting ethical tensions between economic interests (e.g., an efficient use of advertisement time) and social responsibility. We discuss the implications of our framework for advertising ethics, for corporate social performance, and for corporate social responsibility.


Advertising ethics Brands Corporate social responsibility Corporate social performance Disclaimer speed Mediation Purchase intention Trust 



We wish to thank Eli Finkel and Gráinne Fitzsimons for their generous contributions to this paper and for their helpful advice. This research was sponsored by the Wake Forest University Schools of Business Faculty Research Fund.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth C. Herbst
    • 1
  • Sean T. Hannah
    • 2
  • David Allan
    • 3
  1. 1.Schools of BusinessWake Forest UniversityWinston-SalemUSA
  2. 2.Schools of BusinessWake Forest UniversityWinston-SalemUSA
  3. 3.Haub School of BusinessSaint Joseph’s UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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