Eating Popcorn at the Movies Makes You Impervious to Advertising, Says Study

Josh WolfordMarketing & AdvertisingLeave a Comment

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You may spend more up front buying your butter-soaked, 6-dollar vat of popcorn next time you hit the theater. But new research suggests that it may make you spend less in the long run on any products marketers throw at you before the movie begins.

The researchers, from Cologne University in Germany based their study on previous findings from other studies. First, the implication that repetition affects the ease in which our brain perceive information, and second, that repetition effect actually comes from the mouth.

"Each time we encounter a person’s or product name, the lips and the tongue automatically simulate the pronunciation of that name. This happens covertly, that is, without our awareness and without actual mouth movements," say the researchers.

This is referred to as "inner speech." And if this inner speech is disturbed in any way, you know, by a giant mouthful of popcorn or the futile gumming of a couple of milk duds - the product may not stick in our brains and we might not have a chance to make any sort of positive associations with it.

They set out to test whether chewing during adverts in a movie theater would actually make people less susceptible to the advertising. And what they found was basically, yeah, it does.

From the University of Cologne:

In the first study, which involved 96 participants, the participants were invited to the lab one week after the cinema session. They were presented with images of products. Half of these products had been advertised in the cinema session, the other half were completely novel products. Participants were asked to indicate the products that thy likes, and their physiological responses were measured. Those participants who had only received a sugar cube and could thus internally train the brands’ articulation demonstrated that there was a clear advertising effect. They preferred advertised over novel products and also showed positive physiological responses of familiarity for advertised products. However, those participants who had eaten popcorn while watching the commercials one week before showed no such advertising effect.

In a second study with another 188 participants, the popcorn procedure and commercial session was also carried out. But this time, participants were asked for real consumer choices one week later. They were given a small amount of money that they should spend on buying a skin lotion and donate to charity. Specifically, they were presented with six different lotions (with different brand names) and six charity foundations with fictitious names. Three of the lotions and three of the charity foundations had been advertised in the earlier cinema session. Participants who had eaten a sugar chose the advertised products more often: they were more likely to buy the advertised lotions and donated their money for the advertised charities. However, the participants who had eaten popcorn did not show this effect.

“The present study used the cinema scenario as an illustrative example. However, such oral blockades caused by snacking take places in many more situations, such as while watching TV and surfing in the internet,” say the researchers.

Really it's simply the process of chewing anything, anywhere that makes you tune out all the ad clutter.

And that's the major implication from a study like this. Advertisers may have to adjust their strategies - maybe not showing ads during peak dinner times? It's interesting the think that you're kind of putting on ad-armor every time you snack in front of the TV.

Image via Thinkstock

Josh Wolford

Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer.

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