Something to chew on: Popcorn ruins cinema ad effect

by theleighreview

by Matt Keleher

The silver screen is theoretically an ad man’s dream; with dimmed lights and a room packed with comfortably seated moviegoers, advertisers have the perfect platform to dazzle audiences…

That is, unless there are any distractions such as, say…popcorn. A new study conducted by researchers at Cologne University has concluded that the simple act of chewing lessens the power of advertising considerably.

The mouth instinctively simulates the pronunciation of a new name the first time it is heard, which explains the effectiveness of television and cinema advertising; the brand name becomes ingrained in the psyche after viewing. However, the study which was recently published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology noted that chewing interfered with this “inner-speech”.

The findings of the Cologne study has certainly given advertisers something to chew on... Photograph: RubberBall/Alamy

The findings of the Cologne study has certainly given advertisers something to chew on…
Photograph: RubberBall/Alamy

As part of the research, a group of 96 people were invited to a cinema to watch a film preceded by commercials. Half of the group were given free popcorn, while the remainder received small sugar cubes, which quickly dissolved in their mouths.

A study conducted after the film revealed that the ads had not affected the popcorn group, while the others had responded positively to the brands advertised.

“The mundane activity of eating popcorn made participants immune to the pervasive effects of advertising,” explains researcher Sascha Topolinski.

“Our findings suggest that selling candy in movie theaters actually undermines advertising effects, which contradicts present marketing strategies. In the future, when promoting a novel brand, advertising clients might consider trying to prevent candy being sold before the main movie.”

I would hate to see this happen, as for me enjoying a snack is an integral part of the cinema experience. If advertisers did manage to cull crunchy snacks from foyers, I’m sure moviegoers would still find surreptitious means to take their favourite treats to the movies!

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