Eat to the Beat: Musical Incongruity Resolution in Restaurant Advertising

Abolhasani, Morteza and Golrokhi, Zahra (2022). Eat to the Beat: Musical Incongruity Resolution in Restaurant Advertising. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 34(5) pp. 567–591.



Music is considered an effective tool in shaping consumers’ responses to advertising. The present study examines the effects of mildly incongruent background music upon consumers’ responses to restaurant advertising. It integrates country of origin and genre congruity of music in a single congruity framework through focusing more closely upon the twin components of congruity (expectancy and relevancy) and examines how various quadrants of musical in/congruity affect consumers’ cognitive responses and behavioral intentions. Between-subjects experiment was conducted to explore participants’ responses to an advertisement promoting a fictitious Italian restaurant. Findings indicate how the deliberate crafting of musical incongruity can be used to engage and amuse consumers, proposing that resolving mild musical incongruity may enhance consumers’ attitude toward advertising, perception of brand image and quality, as well as their purchase intent. The present research develops, refines, and redefines the concept of musical congruity in advertising and offers the first empirical evidence for the positive effects of using purposeful, mildly incongruent music upon consumers’ cognitive responses to advertising as well as their behavioral intentions.

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