Does advertising change our memory?

What kind of impression advertising makes on consumer? Most of marketers are using brands, symbols, images, logos, slogans or jingles to remind consumers of their products and services. But how many of us really notice the relation between the brand and the product in commercial messages. The important point of the message is probably soon forgot instead of being memorized.

A lot of money is spent for ads in order to consumers to remember them for later purposes. The consumers store the information both on internal and external memory which can then be applied when purchase decisions must be made. The information itself can include all possible details of products and even experiences. These memories of remembered products or services can also be more favorable than they actually were. This can happen when name of the brand or pictures of the products are very well known. The more effort consumers use for processing information the more likely it will be placed in long-term memory.

The biggest problem for marketers is probably when consumers forget and their memories fade. Our memories are constantly interfered by additional information which then displaces the earlier learned information.  Same way, also earlier learned information can interfere with new learning. Retrieving the information from long-term memory does not necessarily happen on demand. Memories do not go away but we will need appropriate cues to present them.  For some of us visual cues are needed and others may need verbal cues. These cues are more likely depending on how well we know the product or service.

Ads are also reminding us from our past. What kind of music did you listen when you were about 20-25 years old? Does that earlier good or bad experience determine what you like now? Today our tastes in films, clothing, events and songs may be influenced by what we used to like in our youth. But consumers’ memories are updated to fit today’s concept by repeating commercials and ads. Is this causing us unwillingly to change the original memories? Memory is not a permanent store which can be just accessed with . Advertising is a way to increase sales but consumers should know the power of ads and how they can alter memory.

Roger K. Pitman the Harvard psychiatrist states: ‘When you recall something, you don’t recall what originally happened; you recall what you recalled the last time you recalled it.’


McKinzie, Cheryl. Memory and Marketing. Read on 6th of March 2013.

Solomon, Michael & Bamossy, Gary & Askegaard, Soren & Hogg, Margaret K. Consumer Behaviour A European Perspective. Third edition. Prentice Hall Europe 2006.

Third City 2012. Memory and Marketing. Read 6th of March 2013.

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9 Responses to Does advertising change our memory?

  1. mikatuppurainen says:

    This is a really interesting article because we are bombarded by 300-5000 advertisement messages per day depending on who is measuring, and what part of the world. It’s amazing that we remember any advertisers at all and brands in recall surveys. One has to pay attention to so many other things too…Well, usually spontaneous recalls are low; few percent but usually under 10.
    Everybody knows that the end purpose of advertising is to sell the products and hopefully the product will live up to the expectation and make consumers brand loyal (to keep it short).
    So, the advertising clutter is usually huge and to get through the clutter you either need an unique creative idea or lots of money or a REALLY unique product . P&G CEO (can’t remember his name though) said like 30 years ago “don’t mind about the creative, we have enough money to put on media to get the message through and get top-of-mind”. Well, IBM CEO in the 60′ said that we need only a few personal computers (like 5), so…
    Nowadays advertisers are cutting down budgets and trying to find alternative ways to influence consumers and to get them with the brand. And there comes the point about the creative idea. If you can find an unique idea people will remember it and furthermore like, where they where when they saw it the first time. And good slogans and words tend to stay with consumers and become part of everyday language.
    People remember DNA, Fazer, Saunalahti, Tupla adverts and slogans because of their unique and different ideas. Of course not all of them but anyway…

    The question is: do you buy the product due to the advertisement? No, of course not!
    Have to say that I enjoy the humour of DNA and Saunalahti advertising but I never would have taken DNA mobile interface without the cheap deal and the phone that came with it… 😀

  2. raisavarsta says:

    Excellent writings here, really! Creating a differentiating USP (unique selling point) and making people to remember it, is becoming harder and harder. Some brands still manage to do that.
    It’s all about the total package. Unless the brand is able to communicate relevant customer benefit (like Mika mentioned here), in addition to visual and other cues, people tend not to give enough focus on you message – and then they forget…

  3. johannakuisti says:

    Sometimes ads are made intentionally irritating that people would remember them. But I always wonder, is it really smart thing to do? I remember one ad from the 90’s where there was a young man walking in jeans. The man was somehow very yucky. I don’t know whether other people saw him that way. But nevertheless Diesel jeans got a bad name in my mind and even now I wouldn’t buy them…

  4. istop2013 says:

    I’m a little bit got nervous of massive advertisements I experience everywhere. I try to advoid of watching adds on the TV etc. and all the other channels. For me it’s important to test and try. if I find something has value to me I don’t see any reason to change my behaviour.

    I started to think about brand which has made impression to me and it has been Angry Birds. Now you can even buy Angry Bird bicycle’s. I havent’ bought ever any stuff but it’s been funny to keep tracked what they are doing.

    World is changing any way and it means that advertising is decreasing on newspapers etc. and moving to the internet where it’s more difficult to control. Therefore adds will have increased power for the people of doing their purchasing decision in the future.

  5. katilindfors says:

    I have noticed that Roger K. Pitman’s opinion is often the case. When a particular issue related to the strong emotional response, emotional response will be remembered, and the thing itself is forgotten. It is very difficult to get rid of the negative memory. It effects a long time to your buying behaviour, even if you notice that recollection is not truthful.
    I agree with Johanna Kuisti´s comment that irritating advertising is not necessarily the best way to approach customers. Getting back to these displeased clients might be an impossible task.

  6. Sarem Lotfollahi says:

    Advertising is the most part of marketing and selling. In this way sellers approach consumers. In other hand because human is a creature who forgets things very easily, the best way to remind him/her is advertising. By helping of advertising human gets cures and even he/she can think that there is need for the specific product or service. Advertising can be in different ways for example. various brands, images, slogans, jingles and logos are good alibis. Advertises noticed that making an unique name not only can remind people about specific service or product but also it is cheap way to advertise.

    Now a days even some firms which provide services or products, make more budjet for advertising than the service or product. One alive example is Holly wood movies.

    In fact truth is that advertising affects people mind and brains straightly and it is very difficult to avoid that.

  7. Pingback: Memorize it! | mikkorahikainen

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