Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2012 M&M's "One Track Mind" Date commercial

Several persuasive techniques have been used to advertise M&M’s Ms. Brown’s (the M&M character) 2012 ‘One Track Mind’ candy commercial. Firstly, the commercial has high source credibility. In addition, by using the famous William Levy to create the idea of a sexy Latin-lover and integrating it with the idea of a sassy talking, milk chocolate candy they created a perfect skit for a somewhat naughty but nice way to imply stereotypical ideas of the simplistic and insecure thoughts of some women and the manipulative yet charming ways of some men, played out in a modern dating situation. The use of William levy, an admired person, helps to persuade others to purchase this product since consumers begin to make an association between the product and the famous person. This technique is titled High Status-Admirer Altercast (Cooper, 1984).

Other techniques used in this commercial include humor and personification. Humor is used in this commercial not only to make the brand appear more light heartened but also to increase liking. Research shows that humor increases liking and persuasion through implicit attitude change (strick, van Baaren, Holland, van Knippenberg, 2009). Participants viewed humorous and nonhumorous cartoons in a mock-up magazine. One of two products was consistently presented in the vicinity of the humorous cartoons, whereas the other product was consistently presented in the vicinity of the nonhumorous cartoons. The results showed that mere association with humor enhanced product evaluations and product choice (strick, van Baaren, Holland, van Knippenberg, 2009).

Finally, one of the most effective methods used in modern advertising which has an effect on the consumer’s mind is to create a character that becomes synonymous with the brand being promoted. M&Ms serve as a prime example of this, since they turn their candies into characters, as in this example with Ms. Brown (the sophisticated female character). These characters have been M&Ms brand ‘mascots’ for a long time.


Cooper, M. (1984). Can celebrities really sell products? Marketing and media decisions, 19, 64-65.

Strick, M., Van Baaren, R.B., Holland, R.W., & Van Knippenberg, A. (2009). Humor in advertisements enhances product liking by mere association. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Applied, 15,35-45.


  1. William Levy is definitely fun to watch. Nice selection of research, especially the Strick et al.

  2. I used to watch him when I was a highly hormonal teenager years ago in South American soap-operas. For even more sassiness, see the link:


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