WHY METAPHORS IN ADS CONTRIBUTE TO BETTER MEMORABILITY30. 10. 2022
Metaphors like Carvana’s vending machines and taglines like “Red Bull gives you wings” have increasingly become a powerful way for marketers to communicate brand attributes. In this study, we sought to characterize the memorability of ads across three distinct categories (functional, emotional, and metaphorical) using behavioral and neuroimaging methods.
Participants were exposed to 20 ads from each of these categories and underwent a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan while trying to recall details from these ads one week later. We found a significant effect of category on brand recall immediately after exposure and memory recognition for snippets from the ad a week later, with metaphorical and emotional ads outperforming functional ads.
Insights from activation in key memory regions like the bilateral hippocampus during retrieval revealed that while people were likely to remember the salient aspects of emotional ads and rate them as highly vivid, they were weaker in recalling additional central details about the brands featured in them relative to metaphorical ads. These findings demonstrate the superiority of metaphorical ads for integrating contents of the ads and the creation of “sticky” brand impressions.
187 new people participated in the second round of the experiment confirmed previous findings. They also showed that it was the metaphors that influenced participants' memories, not people's existing attitudes towards brands.
Why to know about it? According to the authors, this is "the first set of studies to compare differences in remembering emotional, functional, and metaphorical aspects of ads."
Are there any weaknesses in the study? The authors point out that they couldn't reliably ensure that people watched the ads really carefully. They suggest that this can be prevented in future studies by monitoring participants' eyes. The study also only tested how people remembered the ads, not purchase intent, actual sales, etc.
Study is available here.