The Role of Music in Motion Picture Advertising and Theatrical Trailers: Altering Music to Modify Emotional Response and Genre Expectations

By Strobin, Alexis A.; Hunt, James B. et al. | Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, January 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

The Role of Music in Motion Picture Advertising and Theatrical Trailers: Altering Music to Modify Emotional Response and Genre Expectations


Strobin, Alexis A., Hunt, James B., Spencer, Fredrika J., Hunt, Tammy G., Academy of Marketing Studies Journal


INTRODUCTION

The abundance of theatrical trailers released today is undeniable, and combined with the ability to access and view these creative advertisements on a multitude of platforms, one may wonder about the effectiveness of various elements in theatrical trailers, including music. Theatrical trailers are, essentially, advertisement for movies. Yet beyond inducing filmgoers to patronize a particular movie, they also create expectations of what viewers will see in the film product. In this regard, theatrical trailers are not only an advertisement, but also a product sample. Music selection plays a vital part in the strategic creation of the trailer, and movie marketers must consider the role and impact music will have on consumers' evaluations and considerations to ultimately see the film.

The impact of music in advertising has been widely investigated, with studies ranging from musical congruency and likeability to levels of involvement (e.g., Gom, 1982; Heckler & Childers, 1992; Galan, 2009). Similarly, research has been conducted examining the functions and importance of music in films (e.g., Boltz 2001; Cohen, 2000; Tan, Spackman, & Bezdek,

2007). While studies have analyzed emotions generated by music, none have investigated how those emotions, after viewing a theatrical trailer, relate to the viewer's perception of movie genre. The purpose of this study is, therefore, to explore emotions evoked by elements of music in a theatrical trailer and investigate potential relationships between the emotions elicited from a musical selection and the movie genre expectations of viewers.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Music is used as a stimulus in countless advertisements and retail stores to affect and influence consumers' emotions and purchasing behaviors (Alpert, Alpert & Maltz, 2005). The following review examines emotional impacts of musical elements and, in turn, the significant role music featured in theatrical trailers plays in consumers perceptions of the genre of the film.

Musical Elements and Corresponding Emotions

Based principally on research provided by Cooke (1962) and Zetti (1973), Bruner (1990) has presented a taxonomy that provides a useful layout for the basic components of music and their correlating emotions. Time-related expressions are composed of rhythms and tempos, pitch- related expressions are composed of pitches and modes, and texture-related expressions are composed of various volumes and instruments. Examining theses musical elements is useful in setting an adequate basis for assessing the emotional impact of various musical elements. Exhibit

I summarizes the research in this area. Overall, tempo, pitch, rhythm, instruments, and mode are elements of music that have varying degrees of emotional interpretations. Each element can be manipulated in order for viewers to relate a particular feeling or emotion.

Music in Advertising

The role of music in advertising is of interest to marketers and researchers for its ability to influence consumer emotions and purchasing behaviors. Given that emotional influences often override rational ones in low involvement consumer decision making situations, music is a useful persuasion tool. However, it is a complex and poorly understood phenomenon and its effects are debated (Galan, 2009). To effectively use music to an advertisement's advantage, the following concepts should be considered.

Musical Elements and Genre

Musical elements (e.g., tempo, rhythm, pitch) can give rise to various emotions without cognitive processing. The structure of musical elements is directly linked to memorization, and Galan (2009) has concluded that music in a minor mode or played at a fast tempo will contain more information than music in a major mode or played at a slow tempo. The listener's processing resources will then be mobilized by the music to the detriment of the advertisement's central message which will ultimately be less well remembered. …

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