Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest day of the year in advertising, with CBS selling 30-second commercials for around $5 million during Sunday’s broadcast. With so much on the line, each brand does its best to come up with the most creative and buzzworthy advertisement to break through the clutter — but to what extent does creativity in advertising impact consumers’ ability to recall other brands?
The creativity-based facilitation effect, well documented by previous research, shows that creative advertisements are more memorable than regular or less creative ads; that is, creativity facilitates memory.
A new paper published in the European Journal of Marketing from Kansas State University associate professor of marketing Jaebeom Suh, along with his colleagues Hyun Sueng Jin and Gayle Kerr of the Queensland University of Technology, extends that understanding by investigating the impact of creativity on regular ads and competitive advertising. The study, “Impairment effects of creative ads on brand recall for other ads,” examines whether creative ads impair the memorability of regular ads to determine whether a “creativity-based impairment effect” exists.
For the study, three experiments were conducted. The first tested creativity-based impairment effects in brand recall. Experiment two replicated and validated the impairment effect in recall, using a different presentation order of ads. In the final experiment, effects of creative ads on competing versus noncompeting brands were examined.
Results found that creative ads impaired the brand recall of regular ads; creative ads impaired the recall of competing brands more than noncompeting brands; and creative ads were recalled earlier in top-of-mind recall positions. This research makes an important theoretical contribution as the first to explore impairment effects in the context of creative advertising. In doing so, it offers important managerial insights for regular and competitive advertising.
Future research may look at whether different memory measures — e.g., recognition — different proportions of creative ads, and ads of familiar versus unfamiliar brands produce differential impairment effects.