Product placement and Incidental Brand Exposure

Subliminal perception was a hotly debated topic in marketing in the past. James Vicary claimed that even stimulus which are so brief that they are not consciously detected or even beneath the level of perceptual thresholds can have an impact on the consumer. Despite any empirical evidence, the practice of subliminal advertising picked up. The conspiracy theorists had a field day.Everybody began locating subliminal embeds in seemingly innocuous ads and videos. Absolut Vodka, Disney films , Benson and Hedges cigarettes all were accused of using sexually explicit, consciously difficult to detect , but subliminal embeds. See an interesting argument Here But there was no proof. Subliminal advertising became just a fad which ran its course.

It is year 2008, a team of experimental researchers revived a modern related form , this time not subliminal, ie not below the threshold, but brief stimulus which they called incidental brand exposure. Can exposure to such very brief stimulus produce a behavioural change though people may not recall the exposure. Such exposure can happen all the time. Exposure to bill boards while driving, product placement in movies and games, exposure to logos in malls, one is constantly bombarded by such brief exposures.

Gavan Fitzsimons and Tanya Chartrand of Duke, and Grainne Fitzsimons based on their experimental research concluded that people who are primed with apple logo were able to find more number of uses for a brick than those who were exposed to IBM logo. They interpreted this evidence to suggest that exposure to apple logo make you more creative.

The story can be read here

Follow up research more or less suggest similar results. here and here

If the argument is right , exposure to brands or logos or ads inadvertently, albeit briefly may have an impact on the consumer. This impact may be more powerful than exposure to ads in other main stream media because when a consumer is conscious of exposure to an ad, there will be a psychological defense against getting persuaded. In incidental brand exposure this defense and conscious analysis may not be there.

All the more reasons to go for product placements.


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