Fast Talking Slows Purchasing, Trust

You know those fast talking ends to radio and television commercials that you never can quite tell what is being said? They  sound like the micro machines guy from the television commercials of my youth somehow got an earmark through congress requiring that he be used in all general advertisements. If you’re like me, you never really quite know what they’re saying. Some are harmless, such as the proclamation, “Member FDIC.” Others warn of possible side effects such as drowsiness, headache, high blood pressure, dizziness, jock itch, leprosy and HIV.

Do these piss you off a little? Does it seem like they’re trying to sneak information past you that they’re legally obligated to say but not legally obligated to make fully comprehensible? Thanks to some insider information, it seems that a lot of it is fairly innocuous. Its things they have to say but don’t really matter, and are said fast so that there is more time in the commercial for actual advertisement. This is especially important in ads that are only 30 seconds long or less.

No matter the reason, if you’re like most Americans, your interest in purchasing or acquiring the object or service in the advertisement is diminished by these fast-talking bits according to a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research. That is, unless, you already trust the brand enough to care.

In the recent study, Northwestern University researcher Eli J. Finkel got 158 undergraduates to participate in a study. (No word on whether or not they were able to complete the study with the laces out.) The subjects listened to two ads – one by unknown Omega and the other by trusted-brand Gatorade. One version had a fast disclaimer while the other slowed it down to normal speed. After, they completed a measure of purchase intention among other tests for checks and balances to make sure the results were accurate.

Pretty clearly, the respondents did not trust the unknown brand’s fast disclaimer and it made them less inclined to buy the product. On the other hand, it made no difference in the Gatorade commercial whether the disclaimer was read fast or slow.

But the really interesting part is that it didn’t matter what it was that the fast disclaimer said. Some trials had the fast-talking narrator say positive things about the product. In the end, though, no matter what was said quickly, it was a negative influence.

Odd. I guess I’m the only one who actually tries to hear what those people are saying.


About bigkingken

A science writer dedicated to proving that the Big Ten - or the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, if you will - is more than athletics.
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