Adolescent brand consciousness and product placements: awareness, liking and perceived effects on self and others


Michelle R. Nelson, School of Journalism & Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 5148 Vilas Hall, Madison, WI 53706 US. E-mail:


Product placements in entertainment media are increasing, particularly in content targeted to adolescents. This marketing communication tactic is examined in the context of media socialization and individual differences in brand consciousness. The relative influence of commercial media (TV, radio, movies, online) and perceived peer and parent brand consciousness on US adolescent brand consciousness is assessed, as well as differences in how low and high brand-conscious adolescents view product placements. Awareness, liking and perceived effects of product placements on self and others (third-person perception) were measured. Results of hierarchical multiple regression analyses show that movies and perceived parent and peer brand consciousness were positively related to adolescent brand consciousness. Those adolescents considered to be highly brand-conscious were also those who were most aware of and favourable towards product placements. All adolescents demonstrated third-person perception of media effects in that they considered others to be more influenced by product placements than themselves, with peers influenced more than friends. Highly brand-conscious teens perceived the greatest effects of product placements on their own and others’ buying behaviours, yet low brand-conscious teens revealed the largest gap in perceptions of impact on self vs. peers. The results are discussed in view of media effects; ramifications for marketers and public policy makers are also appraised.