Changing the game: The effects of cognitive load and brand prominence on covert advertising recognition

Paper presented at the AMA Marketing and Public Policy Conference (MPPC), Washington, D.C.

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of advertising format and cognitive load in shaping the effect of covert advertisements on participants advertising recognition and outcomes. In a 2 (advertisement format: advergame vs. video commercial) x 2 (brand prominence: low (Asus) vs. high (KFC)) between-subjects factorial experiment (N = 82), participants were asked to view and interact with a covert advertisement, and subsequently complete dependent measures. The findings indicate that high brand prominence appears to counteract the effects of the covert features associated with advergames in general, thus leading to higher advertising recognition scores. Conversely, low brand prominence in the context of advergames exacerbates consumers’ lack of recognition by reducing the number of brand or advertising related elements available for schematic retrieval and processing. These findings suggest that both advertising format and brand prominence can serve as cues that a message is advertising. We believe that the psychological mechanisms behind the effects of these two message characteristics are distinct and have implications for development of theory.

Nathaniel J. Evans  Bartosz Wojdynski  Michael Harman 

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