Cue Compatibility and Framing in Advertising

By Kevin Lane Keller
1989| Working Paper No. 1051

The findings from a laboratory experiment supported three research propositions concerning the effects of processing goals at ad exposure and retrieval cues present during later recall of communication effects and ad and brand judgments. The first proposition, the “cue compatibility principle,” states that there must be compatibility or a match between the type of information stored in memory at encoding and the type of information present as cues at retrieval for successful recall of communication effects (e.g., cognitive responses). The second proposition states that although retrieval cuts can facilitate recall of strongly associated information, they can also inhibit recall of other, less-strongly associated information in memory. The third proposition states that because processing goals and retrieval cues affect the accessibility of communication effects, they “frame” brand judgments by influencing: 1) the importance or weight placed on different types of cognitive responses in ad and brand judgments; and therefore 2) the actual favorableness of the judgments reached. The theoretical and managerial implications of these memory factors on advertising effectiveness are discussed.