To meet or meat? Homophones in advertising encourage judgments and behaviors in children

Jasmina Ilicic, Stacey M. Baxter, Alicia Kulczynski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Despite research on the influence of homophone priming on consumer judgments and behaviors in adults (e.g., the homophone bye primes purchase; target: buy), there is no research to date on the effectiveness of homophone priming on children’s judgments and behaviors. We examine the priming effect of homophonous devices in advertising on children’s (aged six to 13) judgments and behaviors (i.e., the use of the word meet in advertising primes children’s desire to eat chicken; target: meat). Across three studies we provide evidence that homophonous priming effects decrease with age, whereby younger and less skilled child readers focus on the phonology of words, which results in homophone priming. We show that older and more skilled child readers are better able to process the orthography (spelling) of a word and the meaning of the prime, resulting in homophone priming suppression. We illustrate that facilitating, or prompting, spelling verification in younger children results in their ability to disambiguate the word’s meaning and, subsequently, suppress the irrelevant homophone. This research has implications for advertisers in terms of the execution of their advertisements to influence young children’s judgments and behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378-394
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Advertising
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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