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How background music in ads affects consumers


The researchers used a commercial for women’s running shoes to measure the effect of background music on consumers.

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According to a study by Texas A&M University, adding music to the background of a television commercial can result in more effective advertising for sports products.

The evidence of this lies in consumer brainwaves: study participants shown a version of a commercial with music in the background had higher levels of emotional arousal and attention than those shown a version that contained only a narrative. Background music could also lead to increased brand attitudes and purchase intent, according to the study published in the International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship.

Hyun-Woo Lee, sports management researcher and assistant professor in the Department of Health and Kinesiology at the College of Education & Human Development, said the research team used quantitative electroencephalography (EEG) to measure brain waves in women who participated in the study. While social science researchers are more likely to use psychometric measurements like surveys, Lee said it can be difficult to capture people’s perceptions or emotions in real time using this technique because it relies on memory.

By measuring respondents’ brainwaves, Lee is confident that the results provide strong evidence that background music has a compelling effect in sports advertising.

“In particular, we found that EEG activity in the frontal lobe (the front part of the brain), which is strongly linked to our emotions, was increased by background music,” said Lee.

Two TV spots from the Korean sporting goods manufacturer Prospecs, which were broadcast in 2012, were used for the study. The 15-second advertisement advertised the same women’s running shoe and featured South Korean figure skater YuNa Kim.

A control group was shown the narrative-only commercial, and the experimental group watched the commercial, which featured both narration and the background song “Afternoon March” by Peppertones.

The frontal lobe region was activated more with background music in the group that saw the advertisement, which supports the idea that music induces emotional arousal. Brand attitude and purchase intentions, however, are a different thing from flashes of inspiration. Since these variables could not be recorded by the EEG, they were measured using a questionnaire and tested according to the hierarchy of effects model.

Buying intent was stronger in the group that saw the ad with background music. In the seven-step questionnaire, the average purchase intent of the group that heard background music was 4.36, while the group without music was 3.64.

Although the results show that music works in ads, the researchers found that they can’t promise that all background music will be effective.

“I would suggest that there is a need to consider and test different elements in music, such as a particular genre, tempo, or relationship with a product endorser, based on the type of sports product or brand.” said Lee.

Lee’s co-author, kinesiology student Jun-Phil Uhm ’23, said music that works in harmony with the imagery and message of the ad can be a powerful advertising strategy.

“Background music is particularly important in sports advertising, where even stronger effects can be achieved by mixing dynamic sports images with rhythmic music,” says Uhm. “Advertisers can combine vivid and positive images of sports with suitable background music to improve the perception of the message by the customer.”

Lee and Uhm hope this study will serve as a starting point for further research into how music in advertising affects consumers.


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