Special Session Summary Where Art and Commerce Collide: a Funnel Approach to Embedding Messages in Non-Traditional Media


L. J. Shrum (2003) ,"Special Session Summary Where Art and Commerce Collide: a Funnel Approach to Embedding Messages in Non-Traditional Media", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 30, eds. Punam Anand Keller and Dennis W. Rook, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 170-173.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 30, 2003     Pages 170-173



L. J. Shrum, University of Texas, San Antonio

Hybrid communications refer to instances of sponsored brand inclusion in popular media under the guise of entertainment. Though evidence for hybrid communications in its most established form (i.e., in movies) spans most part of the last century, inclusion within all entertainment media has steadily increased over the past two decades. This popularity and sophistication in marketing practice is however largely unmatched by concomitant academic scrutiny. It is only within the last decade or so that studies on product placements have appeared in academic literature. The entwined nature of joint promotional campaigns makes it difficult to assess the independent impact of product placements in field settings. At the same time research into underlying psychological processes is lacking as well. This session has been an effort to investigate whether such non-traditional branded inclusion within media content is processed differently depending on the nature of these inclusions and the sophistication of audiences.

A top-down approach was adopted and topics within the session were broadly organized such that they funneled down from macro to micro level issues. A broad theoretical overview followed by a macro-level cross-cultural content analysis of brands placed within movies was followed by examinations of placement efficacy given different consumer sub-segments, various message characteristics and different consumer characteristics.

The first paper dealt with issues of broad importance to the field and identified avenues for further research. Within this macro view of placements, results of a broad cross-cultural content analysis are presented for movies across a range of countries and genres, based upon differences in the nature of product placements (auditory, visual, audiovisual), prominence of placements (background, foreground, plot), and brand origins (domestic, international).

The second paper narrowed its focus to look at the worth of using conventional versus unconventional methods for communicating with specific consumer sub-segments (urban youth) for specific product categories (luxury goods) within a single country (the US). Traditional consumers of luxury goods were differentiated from the newly affluent and racially diverse "urban youth" segment and the impacts of materialism, reference groups and conspicuous consumption that makes this segment particularly vulnerable to messages embedded within non-traditional media (e.g., song lyrics and video games) were examined.

The third paper took a more refined, yet different perspective and explored the dual influence of placements in print media. Specifically, the impact of message characteristics (i.e., placement salience) and consumer characteristics (i.e., placement awareness) on memory for claims, attitudes towards brand claims and trust in brand sponsors and trust in the communication medium was examined. These were contrasted for both non-traditional (i.e., product placements) as well as traditional communications methods (i.e., advertisements). Taken as a whole, the three papers that were part of this special topics session offered insights that are of considerable interest to the consumer research community as well as to marketing practitioners, first at the holistic and then at specific levels. Details about each paper follow.



Narayan Devanathan, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Michelle R. Nelson, University of Wisconsin-Madison

John McCarty, The College of New Jersey

Sameer Deshpande, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Hye-Jin Paek, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ratanasuda Punnahitanond, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Susan E. Stein, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Alexandra M. Vilela, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ronald Yaros, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Mercedes-Benz in Dil Chahta Hai (India); Pepsi in Fah (Thailand); Daewoo Matiz in Chuyuso supgyuk sa keun (Gas Station Attack, South Korea), Brahma beer in Brazilian Bossa Nova: brands are now shown and heard in films produced all around the world. Barring a select few (e.g. Gould, Gupta & Grabner-Krauter 2000), cross-cultural studies of product placement are rare in the scholarly literature. This study was the first content analysis of product placements within films from American and Asian countries and across a range of developed and developing economies.

Results from content analyses of top-grossing movies from 1996-2001 across five countries (Brazil, India, South Korea, Thailand, U.S.) were presented. A team of coders (at least one native from each of the five countries) examined a total of 54 movies (approximately 120 hours). The coding instrument included closed-ended and open-ended items compiled from previous studies in the U.S. (e.g. Sapolsky & Kinney 1994, Gupta & Gould 1997, Russell 1998). In keeping with the exploratory nature of the study, the following research questions were posed: What differences (or similarities) can be observed between countries in the: (a) use of brand contacts (b) type of products (high vs. low involvement) placed (c) country of origin of brand (domestic vs. international), and (d) nature of placement (prominent vs. background; audio vs. visual vs. audio-visual)? Note that a brand contact includes both paid and non-paid placements within a movie, and the term is used interchangeably with placement in this study.

A total of 687 brand contacts were observed in the 54 movies. The highest mean number of placements (17.2) occurred in U.S. movies (number of movies [n]=15). This is unsurprising since product placement is a sophisticated industry in the U.S. The next highest mean was India (M=14.4, n=10), which is also not surprising, considering that Bollywood (the Indian film industry) is also a developed film industry and the average Bollywood film offers an additional hour in which to place products. In descending order, Thailand (mean=11.4, n=5), Brazil (mean=10.7, n=14) and South Korea (mean=4.9, n=10) follow in mean number of brand contacts per movie.

With regard to product type, within the U.S., India, and Brazil the placements tended to be more high-involvement (e.g. cars, computers, cameras) (59.7%, 60.7%, and 53%, respectively) than low-involvement products (e.g., soda, beer). Within movies from Thailand and South Korea, however, products tended to more often be low-involvement than high-involvement placements (57.9% and 53.1%, respectively). Top product categories for all placements across countries included cars (16.9%), fashion (10.5%), soda (10.2%) and alcoholic beverages (5.4%). The most common brands noted across all countries were Coca-cola, Mercedes, and Nike (except in Thailand); Pepsi and Volkswagen (except in South Korea and Thailand); and Sony (except South Korea).

In terms of country of origin of the brands placed, India, Brazil and Thailand clearly evidenced the entry of international brands. While 76.9% of the placements in Indian movies were of international brands, that equivalent figure for Brazil was 61.2% and 57.9% for Thailand. In South Korea, there were a higher percentage of domestic brands (54%), but the presence of international brands was nevertheless quite noticeable. The U.S. showed a predominance of domestic brands (78.7%), but this is because most international brands are of U.S. origin and hence are "domestic." The top five brands placed in India and Brazil included international brands (e.g. Clinique, Mercedes, Coke, Volkswagen) whereas those in South Korea and Thailand showed domestic brands (e.g. Daewoo, Hyundai, Samsung, Krong Thip).

When examining the prominence of placements, results showed that more products were placed prominently (e.g. in the foreground, used by an actor) versus as background placements in movies from Brazil (72%), Thailand (68.4%), the U.S. (66.8%) and India (52.9%), Korean movies featured more background (55.3%) than prominent placements. The relatively high percentage of background placements in Indian movies (47.1%) were likely due to the 6-7 minute 'song and dance’ sequences that provide an attractive backdrop for brands as they are featured throughout the length of these sequences.

Across all countries we noted the greater use of visual over audio or audio-visual placements. While South Korea (90.7%), Thailand (89.5%), India (86%) and Brazil (85.9%) all featured high percentages of visual placements, the integration of placements within U.S. movies (in terms of audio-visual and audio placement) is visible in the relatively higher percentage (34.3%) of placements of audio and audio-visual placements combined.

Several implications from this exploratory study were discussed. First, the influence of commercial practices and global marketers like Coca-cola on the artistic processes is apparent in the widespread use of product placement across the range of countries studied. Second, product placement may well serve the goal of consumer socialization with regard to international brands in developing countries. Finally, product placement within local film industries may prove a viable brand glocalization strategy for global marketers. Future research might study effects and effectiveness given national and cultural differences between countries.


Goul, Stephen J., Pola B. Gupta and Sonja Grabner-Krauter (2000), "Product Placements in Movies: a Cross-Cultural Analysis of Austrian, French and American Consumers’ Attitudes Toward This Emerging, International Promotional Medium," Journal of Advertising, 29 (Winter), 4, 41-58.

Gupta, Pola B. and Stephen J. Gould (1997), "Consumers’ Perceptions Of The Ethics And Acceptability Of Product Placements In Movies: Product Category and Individual Differences," Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising, 19 (1), 38-50.

Karrh, James A. (1994), "Effects of Brand Placements in Motion Pictures," in Proceedings of the 1994 Conference of the American Academy of Advertising, Karen Whitehill King, ed., Athens, GA: American Academy of Advertising, 182-188.

Russel, Cristel A. (1998), "Toward a Framework of Product Placement: Theoretical Propositions," in Advances in Consumer Research, Joseph W. Alba and J. Wesley Hutchinson,eds., Association for Consumer Research, 25, 357-362.

Sapolsky, Barry S. and Lance Kinney (1994), "You Oughta Be in Pictures: Product Placements in the Top-Grossing Films of 1991," in Proceedings of the 1994 Conference of the American Academy of Advertising, Karen Whitehill King, ed., Athens, GA: American Academy of Advertising, 89.



Marlene D. Morris, Georgetown University

Over the last 20 years, the market for luxury goods has experienced spectacular growth. Fifteen years ago, luxury was estimated to be a $20 billion industry (Moin, 2001). The sector grew from $47 billion in 1996 to $58 billion in 2000, according to statistics from Colbert and Traveler Retailer International (2000). Purchases of luxury goods and services are growing at a rate of about four times that of overall spending and while the assumption is that this spending is being done by the rich and near-rich, the 1990’s have seen luxury spending moving down the income ladder (Pennar, 1998). Despite this rapid growth, the market for prestige products, or luxury goods, has not received a great deal of attention in the consumer behavior literature. As the "traditional" market segment for luxury goodsBthe Baby Boomer generationBmatures and brands attempt to appeal to both this current, "young-minded" segment and to a younger population that will eventually become their primary market segment, luxury good marketers are faced with the challenges of repositioning their brands and reaching a new audience with their brand message. They must now appeal to the tastes and lifestyles of new, younger constituencies in addition to their traditional segment. The particular segment of interest in the current research is the Urban market, a subsegment of the popular "Generation X" and "Generation Y" segments. These segments are made up of approximately 18-34 year olds and 8-18 year olds, respectively. The Generation Y segment alone is the biggest since their parentsBthe Baby BoomersBand will soon rival their boomer predecessors in spending power.

A host of brands that have achieved success by predicting and shaping popular tastes since the baby boomers were young are not creating the same excitement with today’s kids. This is attributed, in part, to a shift in values of the younger generation. "Having grown up in an even more media-saturated, brand-conscious world than their parents, they respond to ads differently, and they prefer to encounter those ads in different places" (Neuborne & Kerwin, 1999). According to Dubois & Paternault (1995), an understanding of the process by which consumers acquire and consume luxury items remains elusive. Adding to this enigma is the challenge of understanding and predicting the attitudes and behaviors of a new and elusive segment. The Urban segment, defined less by age than by lifestyle, is characterized by rapidly increasing spending power, and has characteristics that are very different from the Boomer population that they followBincluding primary sources of information, influence and persuasionBmaking the marketer’s job of reaching and influencing them with brand messages a new and formidable challenge. This is especially difficult when the brand being marketed is one that has been established as one of an "older" generation.

The current research examines efforts by luxury brands to target a younger segment of the population, specifically the "Urban" market. This includes the use of increasingly non-traditional marketing venues, including various entertainment mediums. While some of this current exposure is incidental, increasingly it is a result of intentional marketing efforts. We believe that this trend has resulted in a rapidly growing awareness of and aspirations toward material (luxury) acquisitions within this younger, urban market segment. Our analysis seeks to examine the effectiveness of the use of non-traditional promotion vehicles (i.e. product placements, music videos, song lyrics, celebrity usage) compared with more traditional mechanisms to influence purchase behavior and build brand equity among the hard-to-reach Urban market due to differences in attitudes, motivations and influences. The analysis will also attempt to assess the potential effects, if any, of this brand "repositioning" on overall brand equity.


Dubois, Bernard & Paternault, Clair (1995), "ObservationsBUnderstanding the World of International Luxury Brands: The 'Dream Formula,’" Journal of Advertising Research, July/August, 35, 4, pp. 69B75.

Moin, David (2001), "Luxe Firms Undeterred By Economic Jitters, Shoot for Big Growth", Women’s Wear DailyBFairchild Publications, (February), 1-5.

Neuborne, Ellen & Kerwin, Kathleen (1999), "Generation Y," Business Week, issue 3616, February 15, pp. 80-84.

Pennar, Karen (1998), "Could 'Luxury Fever’ Make the Economy Sick?" Business Week, December 14, p. 46.



Namita Bhatnagar, University of Manitoba

Lerzan M. Aksoy, Koc University, Turkey

Selin A. Malkoc, Univeristy of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

While 'product placements’ in academic literature refer to instances where commercial motives exist for the inclusion of branded products in movies or television programs (DeLorme, Reid and Zimmer 1994), we use the term inclusively to reflect branded information across all media types. The focus in past research has largely been on placements in movies (Custen 1980). This ignores a considerable amount of placement activity that occurs in media other than movies or television programs. Further, though evidence for the impact of placements on awareness measures (e.g., brand recall and recognition) has been positive, evidence related to persuasion, attitude change and actual purchase behavior is mixed. Based on theories of persuasion knowledge and skepticism (Calfee and Ringold 1988; Friestad and Wright 1994) there appears to be a general consensus that consumers ar more skeptical of advertised claims (where persuasion is overt and easily perceived) than placed claims (where persuasion is harder to discern), thereby enhancing placements’ desirability as marketing tools. These assertions and underlying assumptions however remain uninvestigated, especially given the rising levels of consumer awareness of placement activities. In this paper we examine: (a) the impact of consumer awareness of placement activities on memory for and trust in placed versus advertised claims as well as trust displayed towards participating media; and (b) the impact of the salience of placed messages on attitudes towards placed claims.

Building on the issues identified above, we extend the construct of message efficacy beyond memory measures examined in past research and include the constructs of skepticism and trust towards brands, towards brand claims and towards the medium where claims are placed. We hypothesize that the effect of placements might actually be a double-edged sword. While awareness and memory for placed claims may be enhanced via inclusion in naturalistic contexts, trust towards the claims and the media might at the same time get diminished as awareness of placements (viewed as covert attempts at persuasion) as marketing tools rises. Further, an inverted U-shaped relationship between placement salience and attitudes towards placed messages is hypothesized. As salience initially increases, awareness of placed messages is expected to rise but beyond a certain threshold, any further increase in salience is expected to dilute positive attitudes towards brand claims as consumers get suspicious that a covert persuasion attempt might be taking place. In summary, this paper compares the efficacy of product placements versus advertisements in print media (specifically magazines). The roles of message characteristics (i.e., salience), and consumer characteristics (i.e., awareness of placements) are examined in the context of memory, attitude change, perceptions of motive purity, skepticism, and trust towards the brand, the brand claim, and the communication medium.

Study 1, conducted at a major business school in Turkey, looks at the role of consumer awareness of persuasion in the efficacy of advertisements versus product placements for magazines. An unfamiliar brand of instant soup within Turkey (Progresso soup) was used as the product category in this study. Results indicate that product placements facilitate brand recognition. The findings also suggest that consumers that are not completely naive about being targets of persuasive attempts tend to have lower trust in brand claims and lower perceptions of motive purity and trust for the magazine that carries the placement. Therefore, while memory for placed claims is higher, trust in these claims and towards the magazine declines as consumers become more aware of the commercial nature of branded information.

Study 2, also conducted in Turkey, examines the influence of message characteristics (message salience) on placement efficacy. An unfamiliar brand of instant soup (Progresso soup) within Turkey is used as the product category in order to explore whether it is more effective to introduce new brands in markets using highly salient or less salient placements. As expected, attitudes towards placed claims displayed a non-linear relationship with message salience. As message strength increased, attitudes towards the placed claim initially rose and then declined.

This research has intriguing implications for questions of critical importance to various groups such as:

public policy legislators: Are consumers largely unaware of the commercial nature of placements and do they perceive placed claims as implicit unbiased endorsements? If so, are placements a deceptive form of marketing communications? Are consumer that are aware of placements, able to protect themselves by adequately scrutinizing placed messages and thus obviating the need for government intervention? Our research would seem to suggest that the latter is indeed the case.

brand sponsors: Do consumers remember placed brands an claims made about them? If so, do they believe the claims? Findings indicate that though memory for placed information is stronger than memory for advertised information, it is also trusted less when consumers become aware of its commercial nature.

participating media that carry placements: How do consumers react towards participating media themselves when placements (that they perceive as covert) get detected within their content? Results of these studies suggest that a backlash at the grassroots level is possible when consumers suspect a lack of editorial independence and question the purity of media motives.


Calfee, John E. and Debra J. Ringold (1988), "Consumer Skepticism and Advertising Regulation: What do the Polls Show?," Advances in Consumer Research, Michael J. Houston (Ed.), Vol. 15, pp. 244-248.

Custen, George F. (1980), Film Talk: Viewers Responses to a Film as a Socially Situated Event, Dissertation Abstracts International (University Microfilms No. 8107724).

DeLorme, Denise E., Leonard N. Reid and Mary R. Zimmer (1994), "Brands in Films: Young Moviegoers’ Experiences and Interpretations," in Proceedings of the 1994 Conference of the American Academy of Advertising, Karen Whitehill King, Ed., Cincinnati: American Academy of Advertising, 60.

Friestad, Marian and Peter Wright (1994), "The Persuasion Knowledge Model: How People Cope with Persuasion Attempts," Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 21 (June), pp. 1-31.



L. J. Shrum, University of Texas, San Antonio


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 30 | 2003

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