Priming is a psychological phenomenon in which subtle cues in the environment (pictures, text, sounds, etc.) influences subconsciously (or without awareness) how one thinks, feels, and acts. Priming can play an important role in how advertisement is interpreted and whether it is effective. TV and radio shows as well as adjacent magazine articles and advertisements for other products and brands can all be primes.
The effect of primes on advertising has been well document. Consider a few examples:
– Mood induced by television programs carriers over to commercials. In general, commercials placed in happy programs tend to be more persuasive and receive more positive evaluations by consumers.
– Prestige of a magazine could “rub off” on advertized brands and products. Advertising in prestigious magazines enhances perception of advertised brands and products.
– Magazine articles can also be used as primed. An ad for a large laptop generates more favorable perception when the ad is preceded by an article on visual quality and versatile functionality (attributes positively related to a large laptop). The interest in the large laptop dropped when the ad followed an article about mobility and convenience.
– Advertising media choice can be creatively leveraged to communicate a specific benefit or advantage of a product. An energy drink ad placed in an elevator generates more interest among consumers than the same ad placed in a newspaper. Apparently, an elevator serves as a prime for uplifting, powerful, easy, and fast.
Implications: Priming can activate certain thoughts and feelings as well as influence how information presented in ads is interpreted. Marketers and advertisers can use the power of priming strategically by exerting control over media context in which ads are embedded to ensure advertisement persuasiveness is enhanced rather than harmed. Obviously, media primes in themselves cannot generate success or failure of a product or brand; the product needs to be meaningful and relevant to consumers.