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

Skittles - Taste the Rainbow


This is an advertisement launched by Skittles in 2011, taking the “Taste the Rainbow” concept to the next level. In this advertisement, it first asks you to put your finger on the screen, toward a cat’s face while it licks your fingers. However, the cat is later switched to a guy dressed up as a cat. This content may be enough to give you nightmares.

Skittles’s famous advertising slogan “Taste the Rainbow” urges consumers to experience a cross-sensory perception – to taste colours that can literally only be seen. Association has been a common persuasive technique used in many advertisements. In this case, it used the concept of synethesia, meaning “joined perception”, and associated the taste of Skittles with the sight of rainbow colours (and also with a sense of touch).  In a study by Nelson and Hitchon in 1999, they found that cross-sensory advertisements are perceived to be pleasanter, more novel and better advertisements than literal advertisements. In their study, 112 University students viewed a cross-sensory and a literal advert one at a time and have to assess their pleasantness and novel qualities. One of the stimuli used in the experiment was an advertisement of the Radio Station. While the literal advert consist only the auditory sense (e.g. Radio is full of sound), the cross-sensory advert combines both auditory and visual senses (e.g. Radio is full of colour). The participants also completed a 7-item comparison measure indicating their preference for one of the two advertisements on various criteria, including questions such as, “Which ad did you prefer” and “Which ad do you think would be more successful?”

Unsurprisingly, this advertisement also used humor. Humor has been supported by many previous researches as a persuasion technique (French, 1998; Strick, Van Baaren, Holland, & Van Knippenberg, 2009).

French, C. (1998). “Does a smile sell the product?” The Globe and Mail, 17, 21-32.

Nelson, M. R., & Hitchon, J. C. (1999). Loud tastes, colored fragrances, and scented sounds: How and when to mix the senses in persuasive communications. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 76(2), 354-372.

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, 15, 35-45.

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