The inclusion of branded products in media entertainment has become a popular marketing strategy, because viewers are less likely to recognize the persuasive intent of sponsored content as compared with traditional advertising. To guarantee fair communication and protect consumers against unobtrusive persuasion attempts, European media policy has obligated broadcasters to disclose the presence of brand placement in their television shows. Recent studies demonstrate that disclosures raise viewers’ persuasion knowledge; however, the circumstances under which brand placement disclosures may affect brand evaluations and resistance to the persuasive impact of brand placement
are still unclear. In two experiments, we uncovered self-control depletion as an important moderator of disclosure effects on brand evaluations and resistance to brand placement influence. Whereas disclosures increase resistance and decrease persuasion for viewers not depleted of their self-control, disclosures do not affect resistance and even result in more favorable brand evaluations when viewers’
self-control is depleted by a previous self-control task. Because a state of self-control depletion can be perceived as the “couch-potato” mindset in which people expose themselves to entertaining television content, our findings imply that instead of protecting consumers from hidden persuasion, disclosures may unintentionally increase the persuasive effects of brand placement. We discuss several possible mechanisms that could explain our findings.