Pictures are grate! Examining the effectiveness of pictorial-based homophones on consumer judgments

Alicia Kulczynski, Jasmina Ilicic, Stacey Baxter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


We introduce pictorial-based homophones as effective priming cues that influence consumer product attribute beliefs (i.e., a picture of a sail primes the perception of ‘discount’: target perception: ‘sale’), advertisement attitudinal judgments (i.e., a picture of a grater primes more ‘favorable’ attitudes toward an advertisement; target perception: ‘great’), and purchase intentions (i.e., a picture of wood primes ‘intent’ to purchase; target perception: ‘would’). Across three studies we demonstrate that pictorial-based homophone priming effects manifest only when consumers subvocalize (inner voice) the homophone in the image. Results provide evidence to suggest that the absence of orthography (spelling) in pictorial-based homophones and the inability to pre-activate spelling representations results in a failure to suppress the priming effect. Results also demonstrate that facilitating spelling verification disambiguates the word's meaning, resulting in suppression of the irrelevant homophone. This research has implications for advertisers and brand managers in the executional development of advertisements designed to influence consumer judgments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-301
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Research in Marketing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


  • Homophone
  • Priming
  • Pictorial-based homophones
  • Subvocalization
  • Spelling verification

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