Eating Popcorn At The Movies Could Make Advertisements Less Effective

Dillon Smith gets popcorn for customers in the concession stand at the TK/Starlite Drive-In Theater on Sept. 28, 2013 in Neligh, Nebraska.

Physicist Sameet Sreenivasan of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York conducted a detailed data analysis of novel and unique elements in movies throughout the 20th century. Sreenivasan analyzed keywords used on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) to observe trends. A novelty score was given based on the number of times any given keyword was used to describe another film. Films that had higher novelty scores featured a word that was rarely used to describe it. While films with lower novelty scores had a keyword used to describe a variety of them. A range from zero to one was applied as the novelty score, with the least novel being zero. To depict the evolution of film culture over time, Sreenivasan then lined up the scores chronologically. “You always hear about how the period from 1929 to 1950 was known as the Golden Age of Hollywood,” Sreenivasan said to Wired. “There were big movies with big movie stars. But if you look at novelty at that time, you see a downward trend.” After studio systems fell in the 1950s, filmmakers burst with new ideas which enhanced the movies during the 1960s. Films like Bonnie and Clyde in 1967, Breathless in 1960, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in 1966 were all very well received. In addition, plot lines, novel styles and film techniques helped create the increase in Sreenivasan’s analysis of that period. The films analyzed spanned a 70-year period and the study appears in Nature Scientific Reports . 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

After a documentary and several shorts, Godard made his first feature, "Breathless (A Bout de Souffle)" (1960), a brisk dark comedy starring Jean-Paul Belmondo as a petty thief and Jean Seberg as an American ex-pat.

28, 2013 in Neligh, Nebraska./ Scott Olson/Getty Images Snacking on popcorn while watching a movie may help you tune out all those advertisements, a new study suggests. Research published online in late September in the Journal of Consumer Psychology claims that film ads are less effective when viewers are eating the movie snack staple. “The mundane activity of eating popcorn made participants immune to the pervasive effects of advertising,” researcher Sascha Topolinski, from the department of psychology at the University of Wuerzburg in Germany, said to the BBC . Researchers asked 96 Germans to watch a movie, which kicked off with a variety of advertisements. Half of the audience was given popcorn, which was constantly filled throughout the screening. The others received a small sugar cube. The ads were all real commercials of products that would typically not be known to a German audience, including a spot for the Scandinavian butter brand Lurpak. A few weeks later, the subjects were asked to rate a list of different products, some of which had been advertised. The sugar cube-eating group rated the products they had seen ads for higher, but those in the popcorn group were not influenced by the ads. The researchers conducted a second experiment with 188 people, except that in addition to their snacks the subjects were given money they could donate to charity. Again, the sugar cube group was more likely to give money to charity organizations that had been advertised, but people in the popcorn group were not swayed by what they had seen. “This finding suggests that selling candy in movie theaters actually undermines advertising effects, which contradicts present marketing strategies,” Topolinksi said. “In the future, when promoting a novel brand, advertising clients might consider trying to prevent candy being sold before the main movie.” The researchers hypothesize that the chewing motion of popcorn might have something to do with this effect.

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