A new study has found the personality of a brand can influence a consumer to act in ways consistent with that personality when exposed to brand imagery, like Red Bull drinkers tend to act more aggressively.
The new study by two Boston College professors found that in a car racing video game, players put in control of the Red Bull car displayed the characteristics often attributed to the brand - like speed, power, aggressiveness and risk-taking.
However, in some cases, drivers' recklessness caused them to crash and lose valuable time.
"In a performance context, what we see is that people racing the Red Bull car race faster and more aggressively, sometimes recklessly, and they either do very, very well or they push themselves too far and crash," said Adam Brasel.
"They tend to do great or they tend to do horrible. There's very little middle ground."
And the consumers themselves weren't aware of their behaviour, the team noted.
It appears that the personality of a brand can non-consciously "push" or "nudge" a consumer to act in ways consistent with that personality when exposed to brand imagery.
"This highlights some unintended consequences of ambient advertising and product placement," said Brasel.
"It's an effect that we as advertisers have not been aware of or have been ignoring. All of these brands that surround us are probably having a greater effect on our behavior than most of us realize."
The study appears in the current edition of the Journal of Consumer Psychology.