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 30, 2013

Come a little closer

This is an advert for the funeral services from Bergemann & Sohn. These adverts were placed next to underground railways and the minimalist content of the advert "Come a little closer" jokingly encourages the audience to walk on to the tracks which would of course be beneficial to their funeral service. This advertisement is slightly distasteful, but nevertheless amusing.

Humour has been shown to increase persuasion, enhance source credibility and attract attention (Sternthal & Craig, 1973). The effect of humour on advertising was investigated by Cline and Kellaris (1999) in which the fictitious brand, "Awesum Bubble Gum" was created and two versions of this advert were manipulated differing in terms of humor level. The humorous version of the ad included an image of Julius Caesar blowing an enormous bubble with the subtitle "Legendary Flavor". The non-humorous version was identical, except that it included an image of a packet of gum instead. Participants were asked "How much do you like or dislike the Awesum Bubble ad?" and the extent to which they agreed with "I like Awesum Bubble" on seven-point Likert scales. The results indicated participants reacted more favourably to the humorous version of the advert, indicating humour induces preferences and increases susceptibility to persuasion.

Of course writing "Come a little closer" in a smaller font would yield the business more customers.

Cline, T. W., & Kellaris, J. J. (1999). The joint impact of humor and argument strength in a print advertising context: A case for weaker arguments. Psychology & Marketing, 16 (1), 69-86.
Sternthal, B., & Craig, S. C. (1973). Humor in advertising. Journal of Marketing, 37 (4), 12-18.


  1. Well done. Did they react more favourably by buying the gum or choosing it as a gift, or something else?

  2. Thanks!
    Attitudes towards the brand were measured by asking participants directly "How much do you like or dislike the Awesum Bubble ad?" as well as requring participants to rate how much they agreed with "I like Awesum Bubble" along seven-point scales.
    Hopefully that clarifies it.


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