Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills 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

Samsung battles Apple...


This recent advert by Samsung attempts to dissuade smartphone users from buying the iPhone, and instead buy the Samsung Galaxy SIII, by trying to prove it is much better.



Most noticeably in this ad, Samsung uses the caption 'it doesn't take a genius', a deliberate reference to Apple's 'genius' employees in each Apple branch. In addition, Samsung have chosen to show the screen display for their product, but not for the iPhone. Thus, the Samsung product is more colourful (as opposed to the black iPhone), which draws more attention the product. The screen display is also blue, which has been found to signal high-quality and trustworthiness in many countries (Aslam, 2006).

However, the main persuasive technique used in this ad is that of comparison. Samsung directly compare their product to Apple's iPhone, by listing features of each phone in a way so that consumers can clearly see that the Samsung phone apparently has much more to offer. Pechmann & Esteban (1994) found that direct comparative adverts with strong arguments (like Samsung in this case) yielded the highest purchase intent from consumers (compared to non-comparative, and direct-comparative with weak arguments), whether they had low, medium or high involvement in the ad.

Prior research seems to show that low-share brands (fewer people buying them) are more likely to benefit from direct comparative ads as they generate more attention than they would usually, through naming a high-share product that is more well-known (much like how we pay attention when somebody calls our name); another reason may be that the low-share brand is associating itself with the high-share brand and thus improving its image generally (Pechmann and Stewart, 1991). This study analysed a data set consisting of 1,016 advertisements showing low, moderate and high-share brands. 400 participants viewed these ads and were later tested on recall (how well they remembered the ad three days later), as well as persuasion (the difference between the proportion of subjects who chose the product before exposure to the ad, and after). It was found that low-share products were more persuasive and easily recalled than indirect comparative ads and non-comparative ads. High-share brands also yielded fairly good results, but Pechmann & Stewart explain this effect due to novelty of the ad, and that it generates more attention. This attention may have a worse effect for high-share brands though, as people will be more likely to associate the leading brand with a 'worse' low-share brand.


Aslam, M. M. (2006). Are you selling the right colour? A cross cultural review of colour as a marketing cue. Journal of Marketing Communications, 12, 15-30.

Pechmann, C., & Esteban, G. (1994). Persuasion processes associated with direct comparative and noncomparative advertising and implications for advertising effectiveness. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2(4), 403-432.

Pechmann, C., & Stewart, D. W. (1991). How direct comparative ads and market share affect brand choice. Journal of Advertising Research, 31(6), 47-55.

1 comment:

  1. This is great. In addition, the add also works along the heuristic route -- more features is better than fewer features, whatever they are. Even though this can sometimes be wrong. Alba and Marmorstein have done some nice work on this.

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