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Disclosing brand placement to young children


children sponsorship disclosure brand placement advertising literacy scepticism

Publication details

Year: 2017
DOI: 10.1080/02650487.2017.1335040
Issued: 2017
Language: English
Volume: 37
Issue: 4
Start Page: 508
End Page: 525
Authors: De Pauw P.; Hudders L.; Cauberghe V.
Type: Journal article
Journal: International Journal of Advertising
Publisher: Informa UK Limited
Topics: Literacy and skills; Content-related issues; Online safety and policy regulation
Sample: 98 third-grade students/children between 8 and 10 years old, equally divided by gender, recruited from four West-European primary schools in a rural area


In spite of the EU's prohibition on brand placement in children's programs, it is argued that children may still be exposed to this advertising format in many occasions. Consequently, and as children may have even more difficulties than adults to distinguish the commercial content from the editorial media content in which it is embedded, an advertising disclosure may be necessary to enable them to cope with brand placement. Entailing two one-factorial between-subjects experiments, the current article examined how different types of brand placement warning cues influenced cognitive advertising literacy and the attitude toward the placed brand, among children between 8 and 10 years old. In a first study, it was investigated how these outcomes were influenced by warning cues with different perceptual modalities (no vs. auditory vs. visual cue, N = 98). The results showed that a visual warning cue was more effective than an auditory warning cue (vs. no warning cue) in triggering cognitive advertising literacy. However, this activated cognitive advertising literacy could not account for the effect of the visual warning cue on brand attitude. In a follow-up study, it was examined whether the effectiveness of this visual warning cue was influenced by the timing of disclosure (cue prior to vs. during media containing brand placement, N = 142). Additionally, it was tested whether the effect of the cue on brand attitude could be explained by cognitive advertising literacy if children's sceptical attitude toward the brand placement format was taken into account. The results showed that cognitive advertising literacy was higher when the cue was shown prior to than during the media content. This cue-activated cognitive advertising literacy resulted in a more positive brand attitude, but only among children who were less sceptical toward brand placement. This positive relation disappeared among moderately and highly sceptical children. These findings have significant theoretical, practical and social implications.


"Visual warning cues were more adequate than the auditory warning cue (in comparison with no cue) in activating the cognitive advertising literacy for brand placement within chuildren. This result is in in line with the psychological literature finding visual stimuli superior in terms of ease of processing and memorization. Significant differences in cue effectiveness may also be expected between a forewarning cue and a cue that is presented concurrently with the sponsored content. In particular, a forewarning cue is likely to be more adequate than a concurrently displayed cue among children. As children may not be expected to process both the disclosure and the editorial plus the commercial content at the same time, a cue that is displayed prior to the media containing brand placement should be more promising. However, the study could not find an association between (cue-activated) cognitive advertising literacy and a reduced susceptibility for advertising effects forms on contemporary advertising formats. This phenomenon is by the fact that children’s contemporary advertising strongly appeals to their emotions, which may distract them from processing the commercial message in a cognitive, elaborate way, and may ultimately prevent them to critically evaluate the advertisement, the advertised brands or products." (De Pauw et al., 2018, pp. 11-12)

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