CASE: THE MODERATING EFFECT OF INVOLVEMENT IN PRODUCT PLACEMENT EFFECTIVENESS
Xavier Gonzalez Garcia is a Business Administration student at a big, reputable university in England. Xavier loves to play soccer and tennis, he very much enjoys listening to music (he is a big fan of Muse), and he is fond of watching movies. He is a student with excellent research skills as evidenced by his academic record and the quality of his bachelor thesis.
The topic of Xavier’s bachelor thesis was “product placement”. Product placement has been defined as the marketing practice in which a firm pays to have its branded product included in entertainment media, such as video games, movies, and television programs. This relatively new form of marketing took off in 1982 with the movie E.T., in which the alien is offered a piece of Reese’s Pieces. Since then the number of product placements has increased rapidly.
After having spent the summer in his home country – Spain – Xavier has just started with his first year as a master student. During his holiday he has read more research papers on product placement which have further fueled his interest in this topic. Based on these papers and several discussions with his former bachelor thesis supervisor, dr. Casey Finneran, Xavier has decided to take on further empirical research into this issue. He has already discussed a research proposal and the theoretical background of his study with dr. Finneran, who has agreed to help him with this study. Now, he is ready to discuss the design of his study. Xavier has handed in the following outline for an experiment.
Many researchers in the marketing field have examined the effect of product placements on memory, attitudes, and behavior. These studies have shown that product placements affect brand recall, brand recognition, and consumers’ attitudes toward the brand. The current study aims to investigate the moderating role of product involvement on the effects of visual and auditory product placements on brand preferences. The results of this study build on prevailing knowledge in marketing and help marketing practitioners who want to place their product in a movie, television program, or video game to decide whether they should do this visually or auditory.
© Roger Bougie 2011
How does involvement influence the effect of auditory and visual product placement on brand choice?
Hypothesis 1: Auditory product placements are more effective for high involvement products than for low involvement products.
Hypothesis 2: Visual product placements are more effective for low involvement products than for high involvement products.
Participants: The sample will consist of 80 to 100 university students. These students are divided into four groups, with 20-25 students per group. The participants are randomly assigned to one of the experimental conditions.
Design: The study has a 2 (visual versus auditory product placement) x 2 (high versus low product
involvement) experimental design. Participants are told a cover story; they are told that the goal of this study is to evaluate whether brand choice depends on the mood people are in. They are informed that mood is manipulated by a video clip, which will be either funny or sad.
Manipulations and manipulation check: Four short movies have been selected for the experiment, with four types of product placements. Each participant will only see one of these movies. One of the following movies will be shown to the participants of the study: (1) visual product placement of a low involvement product (a candy bar); (2) visual product placement of a high involvement product (sneakers); (3) auditory product placement of a low involvement product (a candy bar); and (4) an auditory product placement of a high involvement product (sneakers). The short movies will all come from episodes of the television show Seinfeld. To ensure that the involvement manipulations (candy bars versus sneakers) elicit the intended amount of involvement, this manipulation was carefully pre- tested with a separate sample of 77 respondents. What’s more, a manipulation check of involvement is also included in the study. Involvement is measured with a 7-point, multi-item scale adapted from Zaichkowski (1985). The scale is introduced with the following question: “How involved are you with this brand?.”
Control variable: Because the product placements in the four video clips differ in terms of prominence, we will control for brand prominence. Prominent placements are those in which the product is made highly visible by virtue of size or position on the screen or its
© Roger Bougie 2011
centrality to the action in the scene. Subtle placements are those in which the brand is not shown prominently, for instance, small in size, a background prop outside the main field of visual focus, lost in an array of multiple products or objects, or low time of exposure (Gupta and Lord, 1998). Following Gupta and Lord, brand prominence is measured with a 7-point, multi-item scale.
Dependent variable: Brand preference is measured by providing the respondents with a shopping list. The shopping list mentions twelve product categories (including those under study) and the participants are asked to pick one of the brands from each product category. They are instructed to act like they will need an item from each product category in the near future.
Xavier has developed a lab experiment to test the hypotheses of his study. In lab experiments, control and manipulation are introduced to establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables in an artificial setting.
1a. Explain, based on the afore-mentioned research finding, why and how ‘gender’ may affect the results of the study if Xavier would not control for gender?
1b. Explain (in detail) possible ways in which Xavier can control for gender in this study.
2a. Xavier has indicated that he wants to give the participants a cover story. What could be the purpose of this cover story?
2b. Do you think that telling a cover story is ethical? Why not)?
© Roger Bougie 2011
Sekaran, U., & Bougie, R. (2013). Research methods for business: A skill building approach (6th ed.). Chichester, United Kingdom: Wiley. ISBN: 978-1-119-94225-2