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.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dyson-This thing SUCKS

In this campaign, Dyson attempts to sell their range of vacuum cleaners, using at first what appear to be controversial statements in their advertisements to catch attention. The Large font causes people to first notice the ‘controversial statement’ and then finish reading the advert to understand that the message is not controversial, but in fact quite funny and positive. Research by Huhmann and Mott-Stenerson (2008) looked at the effect of controversial appeals on elaborative processing and brand message comprehension. The results found that controversial advertisement executions increase elaboration regardless of the levels of product involvement.

 The company used witty, self-deprecating humour by focusing on how context can change the meaning of their statements.  Without context the slogan ‘This Thing SUCKS’ would be viewed in a negative light and be considered a poor product. However, Dyson has cleverly realised that in the context of vacuum cleaners, the same statement is suddenly positive and speaks of how good the product is. Greengross and Miller (2008) looked at the effects of self-deprecating humour in a study with Sixty-four female and 32 male college student. Each participant listened to recordings of opposite-sex people who were described as having different levels of status, and who produced different types humor. They found that self-deprecating humor by high-status presenters (but not low-status presenters) increased long-term attractiveness for both sexes. Relating this back to Dyson, a quite well-known brand that people already associate with good quality, effectively uses this type of self-deprecating humor and makes them seem more attractive through a kind of failed modesty that is humorous in its wordplay.


Greengross, G. & Miller, G. F., (2008). Dissing oneself versus dissing rivals: Effects of status, personality, and sex on the short-term and long-term attractiveness of self-deprecating and other-deprecating humor. Evolutionary Psychology, 6(3), 393-408.

Huhmann, B. A. & Mott-Stenerson, B., (2008). Controversial advertisement executions and involvement on elaborative processing and comprehension. Journal of Marketing Communications, 14(4), 293-313.

1 comment:

  1. Nice. Now should I be more or less self-deprecating?


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