Movie genre and audience reaction to product placement.


          Cinematic theory suggests that audience members experiencing a film lit in the noir style will interpret the highly shadowed, dark, and contrasting images with feelings of danger, suspense, depression, mystery, and evil. On the other hand, when lighting a comedy cinematographers use bright lighting setups, less contrast, and a slick, shiny look to trigger emotional responses of joy, enlightenment, honesty, and happiness. In this lighting style, characters are interpreted as good hearted, funny, lovable, and heroic.

Comedies are bright; dramas are uncheerful. Day is yellow; night is blue.Cinematographers light the space inside a movie frame with the intent to persuade a viewer’s perception. The way objects are lit in the frame will focus the viewer’s attention, the amount of shadows cast will limit perception, and changing lights can indicate change in a character or opportunity.

Cinematographers use these lighting approaches to enhance a movie’s plot, characters, theme, style, and overall mood. The film critic Bettetini has made a claim according to which lighting has a monumental impact on cinematic expression but no empirical studies have been performed to support or deny such a declaration.

 But what if we judge such assumptions through product placement and viewers reaction to it?



It could be posited that because comedies tend to elicit good moods, that moviegoers would react more positively to products/brands placed within the comedy genre. The following hypothesis guided  a Texas Tech University  research*: comedy movie will lead to a more positive viewer reaction toward brand placement in general than a drama or science fiction movie.

When participants were asked if product placement was used, participants viewing different genres responded differently: 63.6% of the participants watching comedy clips said they saw product placement while only 35,3% of the respondents watching drama clips said the same. However, 100% of the participants watching science fiction clips reported seeing product placement. When testing for recognition, participants were asked to circle the one product they saw in the movie clip from a list of 20 popular products, participants viewing different genres responded with varying levels of success:

57.6% of the participants watching comedy clips correctly circled the name of the product placed in the clip while a higher 63.2% of the respondents watching drama clips did the same. However, 98.5% of the participants watching science fiction clips correctly circled the name of the product.

Psychological research results seem to support that if a filmmaker can recreate a visual image that draws on the emotional memories of the audience, he or she can enhance the information relayed to the viewer and the overall viewing experience, which obviously happens even more effectively in a fantasy world where references to “real world” products benefit from that effect twice.

This study was conducted to address whether the comedy movie genre favorably affects product placement, specifically in brand recall/recognition, attitude towards the brand, and attitude towards product placement itself. The results of this experiment suggest that product placement is not more effective in the comedy genre and that prominence in terms of “familiarity”  versus “science fiction” of placement may be more important than genre of placement vehicle.



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