Effects of Interactive Pictures and Ethnicity on Recall of Brand Names

Article excerpt

When people desire a product or service, they often have a wide range of alternatives from which to choose. One goal of advertising is to provoke consumers to think of particular brand or company names when the need arises. Because there is a delay between exposure to an advertisement and the purchasing decision, the effect of the message will depend on the consumer's memory (Keller, 1987). This process may be viewed as a paired-associate learning task in which recall of one item (the brand or company name) is prompted by another (the name of the product or service). For example, for Pilgrim Fences, it is hoped that the consumer will recall "Pilgrim" when considering fences (Esser, Die, Seholm, & Pebley, 1986).

According to Meyers-Levy (1989), brand names perform three functions for consumers and advertisers: They identify products so that people can differentiate the various alternatives, they influence consumer attitudes towards the product, particularly their perception and evaluation of it and, when the brand names are already familiar, they can be used to increase acceptance of a new offering (the brand extension effect

Meyers-Levy, Louie, & Curren, 1994

). In all three cases, it is important to establish what dimensions make a brand name memorable (Meyers-Levy, 1989).

Research on memory for brand names has shown that encoding processes affect recall(Keller, 1987; Saegert & Young, 1983). Particular attention has been given to the effect of pictures on memory for advertisements (Childers & Houston, 1986; Edell & Staelin, 1983; Houston, Childers, & Heckler, 1987).

EFFECTS OF PICTURES ON RECALL

Print advertisers often use pictures to illustrate the paired brand and product names. This practice is consistent with dual-coding memory theory (Paivio, 1971), according to which recall is enhanced if information is coded in two systems (verbal, imagery) rather than one (usually verbal). The easiest way to portray the names is to include a picture in which each component is displayed separately (e.g., a pilgrim in one part of the picture and a fence in another). Although Paivio (1971, pp. 251, 350) suggests that these pictures would increase prompted recall, research with concrete nouns and with simulated advertising material has produced mixed results. When separate pictures accompany words, performance has been higher (Biron & McKelvie, 1986; Epstein, Rock, & Zuckerman, 1960; Paivio & Yarmey, 1986), lower (MacGregor & McKelvie, 1990; Wollen, Weber, & Lowry, 1972), and not different (Esser et al., 1986; McKelvie, Daprat, Monfette, & Cooper, 1993; Morelli, 1970; Wollen & Lowry, 1971) from performance with words alone.

In contrast, there is consistent evidence that recall is enhanced by pictures in which the two components are combined (e.g., the pilgrim is painting the fence). When such "interactive pictures" (Lutz & Lutz, 1977) accompany words, recall is better than with separate pictures or with names alone (Childers & Houston, 1984; Epstein et al., 1960; Esser et al., 1986; Kerst, 1976; Lutz & Lutz, 1977; McKelvie, Cooper, & Monfette, 1992; McKelvie et al., 1993; McKelvie, Sano, & Stout, 1994; Senter & Hoffman, 1976; Wollen & Lowry, 1971; Wollen et al., 1972). These results may be accounted for as follows by Paivio's (1971) imagery mediation hypothesis. Illustrated names are coded both verbally and visually. When a name alone (e.g., fences) is given during the memory test, it arouses a simple visual image corresponding to its illustration (an image of a fence). In turn, that image arouses a compound image corresponding to the interactive picture (an image of a pilgrim painting a fence). Finally, the second simple component of this image (pilgrim) permits retrieval of the verbal response ("pilgrim"). Following others (McKelvie et al., 1993), we propose that this explanation entails two requirements: (a) the two illustrations should be clearly connected (so that the first simple image will arouse the compound image which in turn arouses the image of the second component), and (b) the two individual illustrations should clearly represent the names that they are designed to portray (so that the names given during the test will arouse their simple images and the second simple images will permit retrieval of the response names). …