Keven Malkewitz of Oregon State University and Damon Aiken of Eastern Washington University surveyed 396 college students in three universities.
The study participants were shown five minutes of war programming -- war footage in Iraq -- followed by two 30-second commercials, and then showed another five minutes of war news and more commercials.
The commercials had been aired during the nightly national news and featured common, name-brand products.
"More intense" war news was defined as showing more explosions, more disturbing images of bodies and amputees and more key words, such as "suicide" and "explosive" than the programming defined as "less intense."
However, the study subjects who self-identified as supporting the war when it came to the coverage defined as "less intense" often did remember the advertising, while the intensity did not seem to affect the recall of those who defined themselves as against the war, the researchers say.
"Our research shows that it doesn't have the same effect in all situations, because in war news there is a range of anger, contentment, sadness, hostility and even enthusiasm," Malkewitz says.
The findings are published in the Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising.