The implicit influence of bimodal brand placement on children: information integration or information interference?

Haiming Hang

University of Bath


Recently, brand placement has attracted many researchers’ attention (for reviews see Balasubramanian et al. 2006; Shrum et al. 2009; van Reijmersdal et al. 2009). Although previous studies provide valuable insights about the impact of brand placement on brand recall (e.g. Lee & Faber 2007; Mackay et al. 2009; van Reijmersdal et al. 2010), brand attitude (e.g. Homer 2009; Mackay et al. 2009) and brand choice (e.g. Law & Braun 2000; Auty & Lewis 2004; Hang & Auty 2011), questions remain. For example, whether presenting a brand placement in multiple modalities is more effective than presenting it in a single modality is still unclear. Some scholars argue that presenting a stimulus in different modalities can activate more memory nodes, and thus it will lead to information integration (e.g. McCracken & Macklin 1998; Jiang & Benbasat 2007; Wang & Muehling 2010). This, therefore, suggests a bimodal placement (a visual-plus-auditory placement)1 is more effective than a unimodal one (a stand-alone visual placement or a stand-alone auditory placement). Supporting this view, Brennan and Babin (2004) find that consumers are more likely to recall/recognise a bimodal placement. However, other scholars argue that information in different modalities may require different cognitive resources (Tavassoli 1998), and thus they may compete against each other for a person’s limited resources, leading to attenuated cross-modality information integration or even information interference (Tavassoli 1998; Ryu et al. 2007; Cauberghe et al. 2010). This, therefore, suggests that a bimodal placement is not always more effective than a unimodal one, and sometimes the reverse can be true. Supporting this view, Gupta and Lord (1998) report that brand recall of a bimodal placement and a unimodal placement does not differ. Furthermore, Law and Braun (2000) suggest that although viewers are more likely to recall a bimodal placement, they are less likely to choose it.