Do Happy Brand Placements Lead to Happy Brands?

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Effect of emotions on brand placement effectiveness is, hitherto, an unexplored area. This study examines the impact of positive emotions (happy, interest) and level of character-brand interaction level (CIL) on consumers’ response to brand placements. In the experiments conducted, it was observed that consumers in a positive emotional state were more likely to respond favourably to the placed brands when the character interaction with the placed brand was low. However, with high plot integration and character’s emotional integration with the brand in a placement sequence, the scenario changed: for happy emotion states consumers showed no change in attitudes as opposed to interest and neutral emotions, the latter, interestingly, indicated an increase in brand attitude change.

Given the high attention level of happy and interest as emotions, it was observed that in case of high character interaction with the brand for happy placement, the attitude for consumer was negligible which indicates that although happiness may allow for a decrease in cognitive processing it does not prove productive for brands looking for reinforcing their brand image or enhance their resonance if the happy placement is juxtaposed with a highly stimulating execution strategy. On the other hand, placing brands as part of the programme’s mise-en-scene (visual/verbal) with low character-brand bonding may lead to greater return on investment if the sequence generates interest for explicit processing of brand evaluation.

Besides, the role of characters when interacting with brands in a placement sequence becomes crucial under emotions vs. neutral condition. If the brands are placed in plot connection with low emotional integration with the characters, the neutrality of the placement sequence will actually lead to decrease in the consumer attitude. An evidence of affect transfer is also seen for no emotions sequence whereby, although the sequence does not generate any emotion, the high emotional character-brand interaction leads to increase in brand attitude (mimicking the effect seen in Interest evoking placement condition with high character-brand interaction level).

Thus, the findings of this study indicate that emotions have a significant effect on the consumer attitude towards the placed brands and practitioners may need to re-evaluate the placement strategies, particularly, when placing the brands in a happy situation with high plot integration. However, the findings further discern that not all positive emotions may forge the same attitude in context of executional variables, such as, the character-brand interaction within plot modality, indicating that pairing brands with characters in affective placements sequences lead to formation of brand attitudes with varying strength. Also the neutrality of the placement sequence may be overcome by the emotions generated by the characters for the brands but only if the consumers perceive it as novel.