The movie ads compelling you to go grab a soda and a bucket of popcorn at the concession stand might work on movie goers, but a new study suggests that munching on popcorn during those other pre-movie commercials might actually make you immune to their effects.
According to BBC News on Monday, a study entitled "Popcorn in the cinema: Oral interference sabotages advertising effects" has found that viewers remember brands and words through "subvocal pronunciation," in which people are said to subconsciously move their throat muscles in a subtle fashion to start committing the new word or brand to memory. However, researchers at Germany's University of Cologne concluded that eating while watching ads prevents subvocal pronunciation and thus negates the effect of the ad.
Study participants were broken into two groups and asked to watch a movie, including ads for products sure to be unfamiliar to them. One group was given popcorn throughout the screening, while each viewer in the other group received a sugar cube. The participants were invited back a week later to rate a sample of products, including products from the movie ads.
Researchers found that the sugar cube group showed a clear preference for products they saw advertised the previous week, while the popcorn group did not, leading scientists to believe that the act of snacking undermined the ads.
"The mundane activity of eating popcorn made participants immune to the pervasive effects of advertising," researcher Sascha Topolinski said.
A similar experiment was done with charities that were also advertised during the screening, and the sugar cube group again preferred to donate money to the organizations they had seen.
Though it remains to be seen how and if the movie industry acts on the study's findings, it might be something to think about next time you're munching away while waiting for a movie to start.