The company considering buying a product placement has several issues to consider, such as how central the product is to the plot; how the placement appears— visual, auditory, or both; whether it is seen in a positive or negative context; and how to best measure the product category. Based on research into explicit and implicit memory, the following suggestions are made: Product centrality. Gupta and Lord (1998) found that prominent placements outperform subtle depictions in audience recall.
If the manufacturer’s goal is conscious recall, centrality to the plot is key. These products are likely to perform well on CinemaScore and other methods employing only explicit memory measures. Modality. In our study on placements we found it difficult to separate the effects of centrality from modality; typically those products both seen and heard were more central to the plot (Law & Braun, 2000).
In general, however, the evidence from the cognitive psychology literature shows that modality tends to have a large effect on perceptual implicit memory tasks (Blaxton, 1989) but little or no effect on explicit memory tasks (Roediger & Blaxton, 1987). In contrast, other research suggests a memory benefit from having both modality presentations: Paivio’s (1986) dual processing theory states that two different memory traces will be formed on exposure if a product is both seen and heard.
This stronger memory trace is more likely to be expressed on explicit measures of memory. However, if a marketer were faced with a choice between presentation modalities, and the goal was to exert a more subtle influence, visual modality is preferred. We live in a primarily visual world, and our ability to process that type of information is enhanced.