Priming a Cross-Category Brand Alliance: The Moderating Role of Attribute Knowledge and Need for Cognition


Correspondence regarding this article should be sent to: Laura Smarandescu, 3254 Gerding Building, Department of Marketing, College of Business, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, 50011 (


Firms often enter cross-category advertising brand alliance strategies with the goal to increase their market share by association with popular but noncompeting brand allies. However, firms are often not aware of the effects of these alliances on consumer perceptions of participating brands. This research explores the factors moderating brand attribute inferences following exposure to a cross-category advertising brand alliance. It is proposed that attributes of a brand ally may serve as anchors that produce assimilation effects and move perceptions of a target brand toward the ally's attribute value, or as standards of comparison that produce contrast. This work provides evidence that attribute judgments in a cross-category advertising brand alliance are moderated by attribute knowledge and individual differences in information processing motivation as reflected in self-reported need for cognition (NFC) ratings.