Research on the effect of congruity between an ad’s message and its background music on consumer memory indicates that ad music that is congruent with an ad’s message can enhance the consumer’s memory of the ad. Based on Heckler and Childers’ (1992) study on the nature of incongruity, we suggest that cultural tone incongruity between an ad’s message and its music can also lead to better ad memory. We demonstrate that East/West cultural tone incongruity between an ad’s message and its music does increase the consumer’s memory for the target ad, but it can also have an adverse effect on consumers’ attitudes towards the ad. This memory enhancement effect is stronger for high-attention respondents than for low-attention respondents. Moreover, the incongruity also leads to retroactive memory interference for the ad that immediately precedes the target ad. However, the predicted effect of proactive memory interference for the ad following the target ad was not found. Finally, the academic and managerial implications of the study for global product advertising are discussed.
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