Product Placement related IMPLICIT memory and consumer behavior

Recently, we described how advertising works and how to measure it. In this post, we want to provide you more (scientific) details on how consumer behavior is linked to the implicit memory of Product Placement.


Implicit memory – the background

What exactly the implicit memory is, was very controversial in the past (Richardson Klavehn and Bjork 1988, Schacter 1987). Basically it was discussed, whether it is just a lower degree of activation or even a second memory system besides the explicit memory (Küst 1998, Shapiro and Krishnan 2001). Based on recent findings in brain research (Deecke 2012) the theory of multiple memory systems seems to be more likely. The implicit memory primarily includes subconsciously processed information (Küst 1998) and thus correspondingly more content than the explicit memory (Graf and Masson 1993). Accordingly, the implicit memory is an automatic, subconscious and unintentional process that handles perceived information (Coates, Butler, and Berry 2004; Schacter 1987; Shapiro and Krishnan 2001). The knowledge that is associated with the implicit memory is mainly used in everyday situations and decisions, such as low involvement, pulse or emotionally charged purchase decisions (Krishnan and Chakravarti 1999; Shapiro and Krishnan 2001). There, the conscious collection and analysis of relevant information is relative to “expensive” for the consumer. That’s why the implicit memory is much more relevant for the decision (Coates et al. 2004). Taking a closer look at the implicit memory, it must further distinguished in terms of perceptual and conceptual types (Roediger 1990). While some research assumes that subconscious cognition is reduced to perceptual processing of the stimuli (Janiszewski 1993; Shapiro, MacInnis, and Heckler 1997; Shapiro and MacInnis 1992), there is also evidence that at the same time, even a semantic analysis of the stimulus can take place in a given context (Shapiro 1999).


When and how it works

Generally, the implicit memory of a stimulus is indicated by an increase in performance in tasks that do not require conscious recollection of past events (Coates et al. 2004). Thus, consumers might not remember a product placement, but experience a change in terms of attitude towards the placement (Cowley and Barron 2008) or decisions (Kardes 1986. Shapiro et al 1997; Shapiro et al 1999; Shedler and Manis 1986). This can be explained, among other things, by the processes that influence the subconscious mind. Thus, product placement can even on a subliminal level increase familiarity with a given brand (Processing Fluency) (Buss 1998; Klinger and Greenwald 1994). This improves both the assessment (Janiszewski 1988; Nordhielm 2002; Perfect and Askew 1994) as well as the attitude (Janiszewski and Meyvis 2001; Krishnan and Shapiro 1996; Lee and Faber 2007; Yoo 2007, 2008) towards the brand and increase the likelihood it is choosen in a purchase decision (Coates, Butler, and Berry 2006; Ferraro, Bettman, and Chartrand 2009). The stronger this congruence between the product placement and the rest of the content is, the stronger is the implicit influence on the attitude towards the placement (D’Astous and Bitz 1995, McDonald 1991, Parker 1991). Priming can also support the process that a brand is shortlisted (in the consumer’s consideration set) for a purchase decision (Coates et al. 2004), even when the brand is not known at all (Holden and Vanhuele 1999). Additionally, Priming can affect the purchase decision (even long term) (Chartrand and Bargh 1996; Chartrand et al. 2008; Dijksterhuis et al. 2005).

Although there are some studies that deny an implicit relationship between product placement and purchase intent (Chaney, Lin, and Chaney 2004; Ong and Meri 1994), indication predominate that there indeed are relevant effects (Auty and Lewis 2004; Baker and Crawford 1995; Law and Braun 2000; Mallinckrodt and Mizerski 2007; Morton and Friedman 2002; Yang and Roskos-Ewoldsen 2007).

It should also be noted that the implicit memory is always used simultaneously with the explicit memory (Shapiro and Krishnan 2001), since among other things a subconscious stimulus processing always takes place before a conscious processing (Elger et al. 2004; Libet 2005). In the context of explicit memory, the concomitant recognizability of the persuasion tactic often results in defense reactions of the consumer, as explained before. However, this can also again interfere with the effects of the implicit memory. If the advertiser wants to improve the attitude towards the brand and also to increase the probability of purchase, product placement should be integrated more subtle into a given scene (D’Astous and Chartier 2000).


Auty, Susan and Charlie Lewis (2004), “Exploring Children’s Choice: The Reminder Effect of Product Placement,” Psychology and Marketing, 21 (9), 697–713.

Avery, Rosemary J. and Rosellina Ferraro (2000), “Verisimilitude or Advertising? Brand Appearances on Prime-Time Television,” Journal of Consumer Affairs, 34 (2), 217–44.

Baker, Michael J. and Hazel A. Crawford (1995), “Product Placement,” unpublished working paper, Department of Marketing, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland G1 1XQ.

Bandura, Albert (1977), Social Learning Theory, New York: General Learning Press.

Bargh, John A., Mark Chen, and Lara Burrows (1996), “Automaticity of Social Behavior: Direct Effects of Trait Construct and Stereotype-Activation on Action,” Journal of personality and social psychology, 71 (2), 230–44.

Buss, Dale D. (1998), “Making your mark in movies and TV,” Nation’s Business, 86 (12), 28–32.

Butler, Laurie T. and Dianne C. Berry (2002), “The Influence of Affective Statements on Performance on Implicit and Explicit Memory Tasks,” Applied Cognitive Psychology, 16 (7), 829–43.

Chaney, Isabella M., Ku-Ho Lin, and James Chaney (2004), “The Effect of Billboards within the Gaming Environment,” Journal of Interactive Advertising, 5 (1), 54–69.

Chartrand, Tanya L. and John A. Bargh (1996), “Automatic Activation of Impression Formation and Memorization Goals: Nonconscious Goal Priming Reproduces Effects of Explicit Task Instructions,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 464–78.

Chartrand, Tanya L., Joel Huber, Baba Shiv, and Robin J. Tanner (2008), “Nonconscious Goals and Consumer Choice,” Journal of Consumer Research, 35 (2), 189–201.

Coates, Sarah L., Laurie T. Butler, and Dianne C. Berry (2004), “Implicit Memory: A Prime Example for Brand Consideration and Choice,” Applied Cognitive Psychology, 18 (9), 1195–211.

________ (2006), “Implicit Memory and Consumer Choice: The Mediating Role of Brand Familiarity,” Applied Cognitive Psychology, 20 (8), 1101–16.

Cowley, Elizabeth and Chris Barron (2008), “When Product Placement Goes Wrong: The Effects of Program Liking and Placement Prominence,” Journal of Advertising, 37 (1), 89–98.

D’Astous, Alain and Pierre Bitz (1995), “Consumer Evaluations of Sponsorship Programmes,” European Journal of Marketing, 29 (12), 6–22.

D’Astous, Alain and Francis Chartier (2000), “A Study of Factors Affecting Consumer Evaluations and Memory of Product Placements in Movies,” Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising, 22 (2), 31–40.

Deecke, Lüder (2012), “There Are Conscious and Unconscious Agendas in the Brain and Both Are Important—Our Will Can Be Conscious as Well as Unconscious,” Brain Sciences, 2 (3), 405–20.

Dijksterhuis, Ap, Pamela K. Smith, Rick B. van Baaren, and Daniël H. Wigboldus (2005), “The Unconscious Consumer: Effects of Environment on Consumer Behavior,” Journal of Consumer Psychology, 15 (3), 193–202.

Duke, Charles R. and Les Carlson (1994), “Applying Implicit Memory Measures: Word Fragment Completion in Advertising Tests,” Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising, 16 (2), 29–39.

Elger, Christian E., Angela D. Friederici, Christof Koch, Heiko Luhmann, Christoph von der Malsburg, Randolf Menzel, Hannah Monyer, Frank Rösler, Gerhard Roth, Henning Scheich, and Wolf Singer (2004), “Das Manifest. Elf führende Neurowissenschaftler über Gegenwart und Zukunft der Hirnforschung,” Gehirn & Geist (6), 30–37.

Ferraro, Rosellina, James R. Bettman, and Tanya L. Chartrand (2009), “The Power of Strangers: The Effect of Incidental Consumer Brand Encounters on Brand Choice,” Journal of Consumer Research, 35 (5), 729–41.

Graf, Peter and Michael E. J. Masson (1993), Implicit Memory: New Directions in Cognition, Development, and Neuropsychology, Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Herrmann, Jean-Luc, Björn Walliser, and Mathieu Kacha (2011), “Consumer Consideration of Sponsor Brands They Do Not Remember: Taking a Wider Look at the Memorisation Effects of Sponsorship,” International Journal of Advertising, 30 (2), 259–81.

Holden, Stephen J. S. and Marc Vanhuele (1999), “Know the Name, Forget the Exposure: Brand Familiarity versus Memory of Exposure Context,” Psychology and Marketing, 16 (6), 479–96.

Janiszewski, Chris (1988), “Preconscious Processing Effects: The Independence of Attitude Formation and Conscious Thought,” Journal of Consumer Research, 15 (2), 199–209.

________ (1993), “Preattentive Mere Exposure Effects,” Journal of Consumer Research, 20 (3), 376–92.

Janiszewski, Chris and Tom Meyvis (2001), “Effects of Brand Logo Complexity, Repetition, and Spacing on Processing Fluency and Judgment,” Journal of Consumer Research, 28 (1), 18–32.

Kardes, Frank R. (1986), “Effects of Initial Product Judgments on Subsequent Memory-Based Judgments,” Journal of Consumer Research, 13 (1), 1–11.

Klinger, Mark R. and Anthony G. Greenwald (1994), “Preferences Need No Inferences?: The Cognitive Basis of Unconscious Mere Exposure Effects,” in The Heart’s Eye: Emotional Influences in Perception and Attention, ed. Paula M. Niedenthal and Shinobu Kitayama, San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 67–85.

Krishnan, H. S. and Dipankar Chakravarti (1999), “Memory Measures for Pretesting Advertisements: An Integrative Conceptual Framework and a Diagnostic Template,” Journal of Consumer Psychology, 8 (1), 1–38.

Krishnan, H. S. and Stewart Shapiro (1996), “Comparing Implicit and Explicit Memory for Brand Names From Advertisements,” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 2 (2), 147–63.

Küst, Jutta (1998), “Implizite Gedächtnisleistungen bei Kindern. Experimentelle Untersuchung zur Altersinvarianz,” unveröffentlichte Dissertation, Fachbereich Psychologie, Universität Konstanz, Konstanz, Baden-Württemberg 78462.

Law, Sharmistha and Kathryn A. Braun (2000), “I’ll Have What She’s Having: Gauging the Impact of Product Placements on Viewers,” Psychology and Marketing, 17 (12), 1059–75.

Lee, Mira and Ronald J. Faber (2007), “Effects of Product Placement in On-Line Games on Brand Memory,” Journal of Advertising, 36 (4), 75–90.

Libet, Benjamin (2005), Mind Time. Wie das Gehirn Bewusstsein produziert, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

Mallinckrodt, Victoria and Dick Mizerski (2007), “The Effects of Playing an Advergame on Young Children’s Perceptions, Preferences, and Requests,” Journal of Advertising, 36 (2), 87–100.

McDonald, Colin (1991), “Sponsorship and the Image of the Sponsor,” European Journal of Marketing, 25, 31–38.

Morton, Cynthia R. and Meredith Friedman (2002), “’I Saw It In The Movies’: Exploring the Link Between Product Placement Beliefs and Reported Usage Behavior,” Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising (CTC Press), 24 (2), 33–40.

Nordhielm, Christie L. (2002), “The Influence of Level of Processing on Advertising Repetition Effects,” Journal of Consumer Research, 29 (3), 371–82.

Ong, Beng Soo and David Meri (1994), “Should Product Placement in Movies be Banned?” Journal of Promotion Management, 2 (3/4), 159–75.

Parker, Ken (1991), “Sponsorship: The Research Contribution,” European Journal of Marketing, 25 (11), 22–30.

Perfect, T. J. and C. Askew (1994), “Print Adverts: Not Remembered but Memorable,” Applied Cognitive Psychology, 8 (7), 693–703.

Richardson-Klavehn, Alan and Robert A. Bjork (1988), “Measures of Memory,” Annual Review of Psychology, 39 (1), 475–543.

Roediger, Henry L. (1990), “Implicit Memory. Retention without Remembering,” The American psychologist, 45 (9), 1043–56.

Schacter, Daniel L. (1987), “Implicit Memory: History and Current Status,” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 13 (3), 501–18.

Shapiro, Stewart (1999), “When an Ad’s Influence Is Beyond Our Conscious Control: Perceptual and Conceptual Fluency Effects Caused by Incidental Ad Exposure,” Journal of Consumer Research, 26 (1), 16–36.

Shapiro, Stewart and H. S. Krishnan (2001), “Memory-Based Measures for Assessing Advertising Effects: A Comparison of Explicit and Implicit Memory Effects,” Journal of Advertising, 30 (3), 1–13.

Shapiro, Stewart, Deborah J. MacInnis, and Susan E. Heckler (1997), “The Effects of Incidental Ad Exposure on the Formation of Consideration Sets,” Journal of Consumer Research, 24 (1), 94–104.

Shapiro, Stewart, Deborah J. MacInnis, Susan E. Heckler, and Ann M. Perez (1999), “An Experimental Method for Studying Unconscious Perception in a Marketing Context,” Psychology and Marketing, 16 (6), 459–77.

Shapiro, Stewart A. and Deborah J. MacInnis (1992), “Mapping the Relationship between Preattentive Processing and Attitudes,” Advances in Consumer Research, 19, 505–13.

Shedler, Jonathan and Melvin Manis (1986), “Can the Availability Heuristic Explain Vividness Effects?” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51 (1), 26–36.

Yang, Moonhee and David R. Roskos-Ewoldsen (2007), “The Effectiveness of Brand Placements in the Movies: Levels of Placements, Explicit and Implicit Memory, and Brand-Choice Behavior,” Journal of Communication, 57 (3), 469–89.

Yoo, Chan Y. (2007), “Implicit Memory Measures for Web Advertising Effectiveness,” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 84 (1), 7–23.

________ (2008), “Unconscious Processing of Web Advertising: Effects on Implicit Memory, Attitude toward The Brand, and Consideration Set,” Journal of Interactive Marketing, 22 (2), 2–18.


You like it?
Share it!
Rate this post!
Product Placement related IMPLICIT memory and consumer behavior
Ø 5; 5 Votes
Jens Kürschner

Author: Jens Kürschner

Jens Kürschner is founder and managing director of Placedise. As an expert in the field of consumer behavior and media enthusiast, he is especially responsible for the product know-how. In our blog, this knowledge and the experience of many years of research and study will be shared with you.

Related Posts

Checking SKY in “Joy of Fatherhood”

Placedise is a software to automatically evaluate product placement. Therefore, we analyzed a lot of different product placement regarding their psychological advertising effectiveness over the last years. In our magazine/blog, we sometimes present some of those cases. (Those are usually never projects of our clients due to terms of privacy.)   The Format: Joy of Fatherhood […]

Why we don’t believe in the media value

Unlike most other tools, Placedise doesn’t output any monetary media value in its analysis. Many ask why. The answer is more or less pretty simple: Because we want to provide honest, meaningful and (as far as possible) transparent results and reports. A media value owns not one of those attributes and that’s why we don’t […]