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When background music in audiovisual advertisements can boost the perceived competence of the advertised brands – an empirical study from South Korea

You Jeong Hong (Music and Audio Research Group, Department of Intelligence and Information, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)
Beomjoon Choi (California State University, Sacramento, California, USA)
Kyogu Lee (Music and Audio Research Group, Department of Intelligence and Information, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea) (Interdisciplinary Program in Artificial Intelligence, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea) (Artificial Intelligence Institute, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)

Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics

ISSN: 1355-5855

Article publication date: 21 December 2022

70

Abstract

Purpose

The authors aim to explore whether and how variations on pitch levels of background music in audiovisual commercials affect consumers' judgments of the competence of the advertised brands and for which group of consumers such changes in ad backgrounds are more influential.

Design/methodology/approach

Consumers are presented with an audiovisual advertisement in which the pitch of background music is lowered or raised. They are subsequently asked to evaluate the music and traits of the advertised brand and indicate their predisposed styles of thinking.

Findings

Consumers tend to judge a brand in an audiovisual commercial as possessing a higher level of competence traits when the brand is accompanied by lower-pitched (vs higher-pitched) background music, which is mediated by levels of powerfulness they perceive from the background music. Consumers with holistic (vs analytic) thinking styles, who are known to devote more focused attention to background information, tend to be more (vs less) susceptible to the changes in pitch.

Research limitations/implications

The current research approaches thinking styles as predisposed individual differences as in prior works in marketing. Provided that the predisposed thinking styles can be influenced by individuals' cultural backgrounds, the authors suggest cross-cultural studies as an approach to further validate the present findings.

Practical implications

Given the recent trends that consumers are increasingly exposed to audiovisual ads with the rapid growth of various video-based platforms (e.g. YouTube) and mobile advertising, this empirical study may assist contemporary marketers in considering an acoustic strategy for brand communication using the audiovisual advertisement. This study suggests that the pitch of ad background music can serve as a manageable strategic tool that can assist in establishing an image of a competent brand.

Originality/value

This research highlights a seemingly-trivial element in audiovisual advertisements, the pitch of background music, as a crucial determinant of the perceived competence of an advertised brand upon which further brand evaluations (e.g. brand trust, purchase intention) are based. An important yet overlooked effect of ad recipients' predisposed thinking styles on how consumers respond to the changes of background cues in audiovisual commercials is also proposed.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Institute of Information and Communications Technology Planning and Evaluation (IITP) grant funded by the Korean government (MSIT) (No. 2019-0-01371, Development of brain-inspired AI with human-like intelligence). The authors also thank Charlie Coquillard for assistance with materials used in this study.

Conflict of interest: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Citation

Hong, Y.J., Choi, B. and Lee, K. (2022), "When background music in audiovisual advertisements can boost the perceived competence of the advertised brands – an empirical study from South Korea", Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/APJML-03-2022-0275

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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