Popcorn makes cinema-goers immune to advertising

By Efrosini Costa

Popcorn makes cinema-goers immune to advertising
New research has found that munching on popcorn whilst at the movies may make advertising previews ineffective.

Popcorn, candy and of course the infamous choc tops have long been synonymous with the experience of cinema.

However a study has found that those who indulge in snacks during a film may be making themselves immune to the advertising previews before the main feature.

Researchers at Cologne University believe that chewing whilst watching advertisements interrupts our brain’s ability to process the sales message.

When we watch an advert our lips and tongue automatically stimulate and pronounce the new name of the product or brand when we first hear it. Our mouths will subconsciously practice the pronunciation of the word or name every time we re-encounter it.

It is this ability that advertisers rely on to imprint those brand names and products into our minds.

According to the study, published recently in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, chewing interrupts this ‘inner-speech’ and renders the repetition that would normally take place redundant.

“The mundane activity of eating popcorn made participants immune to the pervasive effects of advertising,” said Sascha Topolinski, one of the Cologne University researchers.

Researchers invited close to 100 people to a cinema to watch a movie proceeded by the customary series of advertising previews. Half of the movie watchers were given free popcorn throughout the session the other half of the room only received one small sugar cube that dissolved in their mouths.

Testing done at the end of the screening found the adverts had no lasting affect on those viewers who had enjoyed free popcorn, while their popcorn-less counterparts displayed ‘positive psychological’ responses to the names and products encountered in the previews.

Researchers believe their study could spell the end of popcorn and candy shops at cinemas: “This finding suggests that selling candy in cinemas actually undermines advertising effects, which contradicts present marketing strategies. In the future, when promoting a novel brand, advertising clients might consider trying to prevent candy being sold before the main movie.”

Somehow we don’t think that the research will be enough to stamp out popcorn from cinemas, perhaps advertisers will simply need to adapt their methods in future.


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