As brand placement into video games becomes an increasingly popular marketing strategy, little research has examined the role that in-game virtual direct experience (VDE) with branded products plays in affecting recall of and attitudes toward the real-world brands. The current experiment employed the manipulation of performance features of the integral brand needed to play an auto-racing game (a Volkswagen car) to determine if players' VDE would translate into differences in real-world, brand-related outcomes. Results indicate that players who had an easier VDE exhibited greater recall of and attitudes toward the brand than did players who had a more difficult VDE. Effects generally were unique to the integral brand; peripheral brands were unaffected. Results are interpreted via the LC4MP model of memory, VDE and affect-transfer theory, and brand-placement prominence. Practical implications are discussed.
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