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How background music in ads impacts consumers

How background music in ads impacts consumers
July 30, 2021 Heather Janak

How background music in ads impacts consumers

You may not pay much attention to the background music playing in an ad, but new research suggests that it has more of an impact than you think.

Dr. Hyun-Woo Lee found that ads with background music elicit higher emotional arousal and attention level, as well as increased purchase intention and brand attitude than those without.

Lee is a sport management researcher and assistant professor in the Department of Health and Kinesiology with an interest in marketing and communication strategy in sport. He said many advertising studies have suggested that men and women process advertising messages differently, but no study has revealed the specific differences in sports advertising.

“There has been a dramatic increase in women participating in sports and countless advertisements of sports products exclusively for women, which drove us to conduct this research and fill in the gaps,” Lee said.

Lee and his team of researchers showed female participants a women’s running shoe ad and then used quantitative electroencephalography to measure their brain waves. They found that when played properly, female sports consumers respond positively.

“By finding that background music is a positive stimulus for increasing the effectiveness of sports advertisements, this study suggests that the appropriate use of music for sports advertisement producers and marketers can be effective,” Lee said.

Measuring brain waves

A quantitative electroencephalography evaluates a person’s brain waves in real time determining the extent to which their brain wave patterns diverge from normal. Lee used this technique in the study, which is widely used in medicine and natural sciences.

More commonly social science researchers use psychometric measures, such as surveys. Lee said this technique can be difficult to capture people’s perceptions or emotions in real time because it must rely on memory.

By measuring brain waves and surveying participants he is confident that they provided strong evidence that background music has a convincing effect for sports advertising.

“Specifically, we found that EEG activity in the frontal lobe (the front part of the brain), which is heavily associated with our emotions, was increased by background music,” Lee said.

Further research

Although this study is strong evidence that music in ads work, they cannot promise that all background music will be effective.

“I would suggest that it is necessary to consider and test various elements in music, such as a certain genre, a certain tempo, or the relationship with a product endorser, doing so based on the type of sports product or brand,” Lee said.

Lee’s co-author and kinesiology student Jun-Phil Uhm ’23 said music that harmonizes with the ad’s visuals and message can make for a powerful strategy when producing a sports ad.

“The significance of background music is particularly true in sports advertisement, where even stronger effects can be created by blending dynamic sports images with rhythmical music,” Uhm said. “Advertisers can match vivid and affirmative images of sport with suitable background music to enhance the customer’s perception of the message.”

Lee and Uhm hope this study will be a jumping off point for more research in how ad music affects sport consumers.

About the Writer


Heather is responsible for news coverage in the Department of Health and Kinesiology, as well as the Department of Educational Administration and Human Resource Development.

Articles by Heather

For media inquiries, contact Justin Elizalde.

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