A study conducted by Cologne University into the effectiveness of cinema advertising screened whilst audiences eat popcorn has found that the traditional treat not only distracts those sitting nearby but the eater from what is happening on screen.
According to researchers the reason for this tail off in recognition is that our brains automatically simulate the pronunciation of brand names with our lips and tongue when we hear the word mentioned for the first time, actions which are impossible when the mouth is stuffed full of butter toffee popcorn.
Moreover this ‘inner speech’ is activated on each subsequent occasion we hear these words, reinforcing their importance, but this effect is again muted by the act of chewing.
The study, published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, involved a group of 96 selected cinema-goers attending the screening of a movie preceded by adverts. Half of these were given free popcorn to snack on throughout the screening whilst the remainder received a small sugar cube.
Those sucking on sugar cubes were found to have a positive response to the ads after the experiment whilst those given popcorn were left ambivalent.
Report author Sascha Topolinski, said: “The mundane activity of eating popcorn made participants immune to the pervasive effects of advertising. This finding suggests that selling candy in movie theaters actually undermines advertising effects, which contradicts present marketing strategies. In the future, when promoting a novel brand, advertising clients might consider trying to prevent candy being sold before the main movie.”