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The present research examines recall for advertising messages that are presented via two musical formats: either via an instrumental version of a popular song or via a vocal version. For individuals who are familiar with the song, recall of the message is greater when an instrumental version of the song appears than when a vocal version of the song appears. This finding is attributed to the greater likelihood that familiar consumers will sing along with the instrumental version and thus generate the lyrics that carry the message. Generating lyrics causes the message to be more memorable than simply listening to lyrics. For individuals who are not familiar with the song, recall of the message implied by the lyrics is greater when a vocal version appears in the advertisement than when an instrumental version appears. Unfamiliar consumers, who cannot sing along with the song and generate the lyrics, require lyrics to be presented in order to derive the intended message.
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