Context is everything: An Armani ad on 1 page changes perception of Honda ad on next page

September 15, 2008

A person flipping through a magazine or watching TV sees a number of advertisements. Does the placement of those ads matter to consumers? A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research says it does. But whether people have a positive or negative impression depends on how knowledgeable they are about the products being pitched.

Authors Myungwoo Nam (INSEAD, Asia Campus, Singapore) and Brian Sternthal (Northwestern University) conducted four studies where participants evaluated advertisements. They looked at ads to provide context, then they evaluated "target ads" for products. The researchers also tested participants' knowledge about the products in the target ads. The researchers found that "experts" reacted differently than "novices" in the study.

"The specific effect of context depends on the decision-maker's expertise in the target category and the accessibility of contextual information," write the authors.

In the first study, "positive" ads were for Armani clothing and Rolex watches. "Negative" ads were Old Navy and Timex—brands with less status. The target product was a Honda Civic. After the participants were rated in their expertise about cars, the results showed that experts evaluated the Honda more favorably after seeing positive context ads than negative, and novices showed the opposite pattern.

"Consumers who had substantial knowledge about cars evaluated Honda Civics more favorably after seeing Armani and Rolex ads compared to exposure to Old Navy and Timex ads," explain the authors. "On the other hand, less-knowledgeable consumers evaluated the target brand less favorably." Studies of target ads for fictitious brand stereos and detergent yielded similar results.

Interestingly, the experts in the studies corrected their impressions when they were given more details about the target products. But if they were distracted from their task, this effect disappeared.

"Answering these questions is important because brands are invariably presented in a context that might influence how they are perceived," conclude the authors.

Source: University of Chicago

Explore further: Chemical contaminants in foods—health risks and public perception

Related Stories

Scientists find cells rhythmically regulate their genes

October 21, 2015

Even in a calm, unchanging environment, cells are not static. Among other actions, cells activate and then deactivate some types of transcription factors—proteins that control the expression of genes—in a series of unpredictable ...

Flowing toward red blood cell breakthroughs

October 14, 2015

A team of researchers from Brown University and ETH Zurich the Universita da Svizzera Italiana (USI) and Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) is using America's largest, most powerful supercomputer to help understand ...

Sequencing of barley genome achieves new milestone

August 25, 2015

Barley, a widely grown cereal grain commonly used to make beer and other alcoholic beverages, possesses a large and highly repetitive genome that is difficult to fully sequence. Now a team led by scientists at the University ...

Recommended for you

Biologists trace how human innovation impacts tool evolution

November 24, 2015

Many animals exhibit learned behaviors, but humans are unique in their capacity to build on existing knowledge to make new innovations. Understanding the patterns of how new generations of tools emerged in prehistoric societies, ...

First Londoners were multi-ethnic mix: museum

November 23, 2015

A DNA analysis of four ancient Roman skeletons found in London shows the first inhabitants of the city were a multi-ethnic mix similar to contemporary Londoners, the Museum of London said on Monday.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.