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Purpose: This research aims to investigate the impact of incorporating product shadows in brand advertising on consumer brand evaluations. Design/methodology/approach: Three studies were designed using experimental approach to demonstrate how the presence of a product’s cast shadow in a brand’s promotional frame implicitly influences brand evaluations differently for experiential vs functional brands. Findings: The presence of a product’s cast shadow in a visual frame implicitly complements abstract processing of an experiential brand but hurts a functional brand’s concrete gestalt by acting as visual noise, thereby improving an experiential brand’s overall evaluation in comparison to a functional brand. Research limitations/implications: Current findings highlight the importance of using appropriate visual elements (especially subtle elements such as product shadows) to ensure communication consistency between the firm-formulated brand concept and the consumer-perceived brand image. Practical implications: Experiential (vs functional) brand images are harder to build and maintain. Current findings show that a mere presence of the product’s shadow in an experiential (vs functional) brand’s ad frame reinforces the experiential brand image by acting as a consistent element in the experiential brand’s ad frame that enhances the overall ease of product evaluation. Hence, product shadows should be used as strategic tools by brand managers, rather than a random ad-execution choice. Originality/value: This research makes an initial attempt to explore the relationship between product shadows and consumer brand perceptions. It provides a deeper understanding of the underlying process (based on associative networks memory model, construal level theory and processing fluency model) that influence specific brand perceptions (experiential vs functional) when a product is showcased with its shadow in a promotional frame.


Copyright 2018 Emerald Publishing Limited

The author post-print has been archived here with permission from the copyright holder.

Publication Title

Journal of Product & Brand Management

Published Citation

Sharma, Nazuk. "Decoding the effects of a product’s cast shadow in brand advertising." Journal of Product & Brand Management 27, no. 2 (2018): 103-114.



Peer Reviewed