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.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Durex: Happy Father's Day

This advert from Durex uses wit and humour to put across the message that their brand is the best, in a simple and succinct manner. It leaves a lasting impression on the consumer’s mind.

Humour’s potential for improving message comprehension depends on its ability to grab the audience’s attention and facilitate learning (Duncan, Nelson & Frontczak, 1984). One explanation that substantiates humour’s influence on the hypothesized attention-learning-comprehension sequence is Helson’s (1947) adaptation-level paradigm, which argues that stimuli will attract attention when perceived as different from previously established stimulus norms. Thus, humour which is perceived as exceptional or unique (such as in this case) will be noticed and remembered better than ordinary or ads with no humour (Duncan, Nelson & Frontczak, 1984).

Duncan, Nelson and Frontczak (1984) tested this in a study where a one-line joke was integrated into a 60-second radio commercial for a hypothetical new men’s hair care product called “New Wave”. Another group was made to listen to the same commercial but without the joke. Results showed that participants recalled the ad better when the joke was present than in the serious ‘no joke’ ad condition.

Helson, H. (1947). Adaptation-level as a frame of reference for prediction of psychophysical data. American Journal of Psychology, 60, 1-29.

Duncan, C.P., Nelson, J.E., & Frontczak, N.T. (1984). The effect of humor on advertising comprehension. Advances in Consumer Research, 11, 432-437.


  1. Great ad, and Duncan et al is perfect here.

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