Word-of-Author Advertising in Textbooks: The Role of Brand Familiarity and Placement Repetition on Recall and Recognition

Article excerpt


Brand placement in the media of popular culture has burgeoned in recent years, projected to reach over 6.3 billion dollars in spending for 2008 (Education Policy Studies Laboratory 2005). In a Bruce Springsteen music video, Born in the USA, the music is accompanied by visual images of Miller beer. Mountain Dew has been liberally sprinkled throughout movies such as Secret Window, while Aquafina caught attention in the hit movie, National Treasure. References to branded products are not, however, confined to the media of entertainment; brand names and logos have also infiltrated academic textbooks. Indeed, a recent mathematics text contains visual or verbal references to Sony, Spalding, Disney, Warner Bros., Burger King and McDonalds (Hayes, 1999).

Friedman (1985, 1986, 1987, 1991) uses the term word-of-author advertising (WOA advertising) to describe the appearance of brand names in screenplays, television dramas, novels, lyrics and other "popular cultural products." WOA advertising may be motivated by creative considerations, such as the desire to lend verisimilitude to a drama. In contrast, when WOA advertising results from commercial considerations (i.e., brand owners are charged for a brand's appearance), the practice is considered brand placement (Karrh 1998).


Authors of textbooks often include practical applications of theoretical content; consequently, many texts are replete with WOA advertising. For example, the text Global Marketing Strategies_(1998) contains thirty-two pages that refer to Ford or Ford products, while references to Wal-Mart adorn thirteen pages of the text Electronic Commerce: A Managerial Perspective (2000). Hewlett Packard is featured on eight of the pages of the text Organizational Behavior (1998). Brand names also appear in non-business texts; for instance, Mathematics: Applications and Connections (1999) is sprinkled with references to Sony, Spalding, Disney, Warner Bros., Burger King and McDonalds (Hays 1999). Extant research has not addressed the potential benefits that might accrue to firms that receive WOA advertising. In the present paper we examine the effects of WOA advertising on consumer memory.

Recent research in marketing considers recall and recognition to be measures of explicit memory (Law and Braun 2000, Shapiro and Krishnan 2001). In contrast, implicit memory describes changes in task performance that are induced by exposure to a stimulus without the task performer being able to recollect the exposure episode (Schacter 1987). Thus an implicit memory of an advertising exposure may influence brand choice even when the consumer is unable to recognize the advertiser (Shapiro and Krishnan 2001). Consequently, we consider the impact of WOA advertising on measures of both explicit (advertiser recall and recognition) and implicit (brand choice) memory.

Researchers have examined the levels of brand recall and recognition generated by brands placed in movies (Babin & Carder, 1996; Brennan, Dubas & Babin, 1999; Gupta & Lord, 1998;) and television programs (Law & Braun, 2000). The extant literature on audience recollections of brand placements in movies has concentrated on the effects of variations in the presentational characteristics of the placement. These presentational characteristics include the mode of placement exposure--audio-visual versus visual-only (Gupta & Lord, 1998; Law & Braun, 2000, Brennan and Babin 2004), the time on-screen (Brennan, Dubas & Babin, 1999), and the relative prominence of the brand-placement (Brennan, Dubas & Babin, 1999; Gupta & Lord, 1998; Law & Braun, 2000). Given the tendency for WOA references to be repeated within a text, the present paper also considers the effects on recall, recognition and choice of one presentational characteristic--the extent of WOA advertising repetition. Our study also considers the effects of (pre-study) brand familiarity with a WOA advertiser. …


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