Date of Award

8-1-2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Business Administration

First Advisor

Balasubramanian, Siva

Second Advisor

Clark, Terry

Abstract

"Product Placement" or "Brand Placement" is the paid inclusion of branded products or brand identifiers, through audio and/or visual means, within entertainment media. This dissertation is a collection of three essays that investigate factors affecting the effectiveness of product placements. The first essay focuses on two measures of product placement effectiveness - audience recall and attitudes toward the placement. Extant empirical studies that address the antecedents of these constructs were integrated through a meta-analysis. Some key findings are as follows. The prominence of placements is a controllable executional factor that was found to have a significant positive relationship with recall. Recall was also affected by modality - audio-visual placements had better recall than audio-only placements which in turn performed better than visual-only placements. Audience attitudes toward placements had a strong relationship with the nature of the product - products that had negative ethical connotations were found to be less acceptable to audiences. However, viewers who were avid consumers of entertainment media tended to have more positive attitudes. Essay 2 focuses on the effect of repetition of placements of the same brand within a single television program. The results from an experiment show that unlike advertising, there was no negative-U relationship between the frequency of placements and audience attitudes toward the brand placed. In the case of visual placements, attitudes actually improved with frequency as a result of the mere exposure effect. However, this effect was not observed in the case of audio placements. Essay 3 addresses "Need for Cognition", an individual level variable that was found to affect audience response toward the brand placed. Data were collected through an online survey and analyzed using structural equation modeling. The mood of the viewer and their parasocial attachment with the character in the program that was associated with the placement had significant positive relationships with their attitude toward the specific placement, which in turn had a strong positive relationship with the attitude toward the brand. However, the latter relationship was moderated by NFC, with the effect being significantly stronger for those viewers who did not engage in, or enjoy analytical activity. Limitations of the studies, the relevance of the findings to marketing practice, and the contribution to scholarly research are discussed.

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