Bling-bling brand placements : measuring the effectiveness of brand mentions in hip-hop music

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Ferguson, Nakeisha Shannell, 1980-

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This dissertation contributes to the body of literature on consumer behavior and marketing communication by exploring how brand mentions in music influence memory, attitudes, and purchase intentions. Even though the definitions of product placement have expanded to include a variety of media, there is no scholarly literature that explores this phenomena. More importantly, there are conceptual differences between product placement and brand mentions that differentiate this form of promotion. Thus, two studies were conducted to test the influence of brand mentions on hip-hop consumers ages 18-36. Study One (n=204) used a hip-hop song created specifically for this research with four brands in the lyrics with varying degrees of prominence in the song and congruence with hip-hop culture. Three fictitious press releases were also used to manipulate perceived initiator. A 3x2x2x2 repeated measures with between subjects design was employed to analyze the effects of the executional factors (prominence and congruence), perceived initiator and primary beneficiary, along with involvement on the dependent variables. In Study Two, 30 in-depth interviews were conducted to gain a deeper understanding of the phenomena in Study One. The overall findings suggests that brand mentions may be an effective tool to increase brand awareness. In Study One, highly prominent, incongruent brands were remembered more in comparison to high prominent congruent brands, but this effect was reversed in the low prominent conditions. In addition, 87% of the subjects were able to recall at least one brand mentioned in the song. Highly involved participants had more favorable attitudes towards the brands than low involved participants. However, the difference was most evident in the rating of congruent brands. The hypothesized interaction between perceived initiator and involvement was not supported. Additionally, the findings did not support the predicted effects of perceived primary beneficiary. However, findings in Study Two reveal possible explanations. Study Two also revealed four emergent themes that influence the effectiveness of brand mentions in hip-hop music: third person effect, authenticity, consumer skepticism, and ethics. The current research is the first attempt to tackle this phenomena empirically. Thus, there were some limitations as well as many future research directions.