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Disentangling effects of subjective and objective characteristics of advertising music

Gordon Liu (The Open University Business School, Milton Keynes, UK)
Morteza Abolhasani (The Open University Business School, Milton Keynes, UK)
Haiming Hang (School of Management, University of Bath, Bath, UK)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 20 April 2022

Issue publication date: 26 April 2022




Drawing on information processing theory, this paper aims to study how consumers’ liking of background music in advertising affects their purchase intention and explore the roles of positive brand attitudes, music mode and music tempo within such a relationship.


We created several radio advertisements that promote two fictitious products: an electric car (EcoCar) and a reusable coffee mug (EcoMug). We study the role of music in these advertisements and examine how it affects purchase intention across multiple experiments.


We confirm the prediction that positive brand attitudes mediate the relationship between music liking and purchase intention. We also show that music moderates such an indirect relationship because major mode music strengthens the effect of positive brand attitudes on purchase intention. Additionally, we find that major mode music with a fast tempo can further strengthen the effect of positive brand attitudes on purchase intention. As a result, the indirect effect of music liking upon purchase intention via positive brand attitudes will be moderated jointly by the music mode and the music tempo.


Limited scholarship explores how the subjective characteristics of music affect consumer buying behaviour in conjunction with the objective characteristics of music. The current research addresses this gap by investigating how music liking (a subjective characteristic of music) and music mode and tempo (objective characteristics of music) affect consumer buying behaviour.



This work was fully supported by the Seedcorn Funding from Faculty of Business and Law, The Open University. The authors acknowledge that these four research dimensions are not mutually exclusive but may be interrelated in important and complex ways. In fact, our research fundamentally addresses the question of how the objective and subjective characteristics of music interact within marketing communication. Nevertheless, we use these four dimensions independently to provide a clearer review of the previous literature on this field.


Liu, G., Abolhasani, M. and Hang, H. (2022), "Disentangling effects of subjective and objective characteristics of advertising music", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 56 No. 4, pp. 1153-1183.



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