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

The Unusual Advertising of the New Dodge Dart

The new Dodge Dart has been criticised for generating a lot of attention and excitement from the media, but being a complete disappointment in terms of sales and public enthusiasm. There are many technical reasons for this and many ideas the company has come up with to overcome it, and the first of these ideas was in the form of a pretty clever ad campaign and unique way of purchasing the car itself based on crowdfunding. Basically they took the idea of creating a registry, like people tend to do for weddings, and applied it to buying this car. You post your registry to your social networks like facebook and twitter and hope friends and family will contribute by buying you a part.

The tv campaign uses a lot of advertising techniques and is worth a watch but for this blog post I’d rather focus on the unique way they’ve chosen to advertise in a less obvious way; through people and social media. By utilising such different ways of relaying the product to potential consumers, the Dodge Dart is repeating it’s message over and over again. A positive relationship has been shown between the number of presentations of an advert and the attitude people hold towards it (McCullough and Ostrom, 1974).  The persuasive technique of multiple sources is also being used. Moore and Reardon (1987) found that there was a more positive attitude towards an advertisement when it was shown multiple times, but only if a strong argument was used.

By having people post about the car to social media sites, others may be influenced by the social consensus effect. If someone sees even just one friend posting a link to this registry they have created, the likelihood is someone else will comment or post him/herself about helping to buy this friend a car part, no matter how small. It will start to seem like a lot of people like this car and should make the person seeing this on their social site more positive about it. Reingen (1982) showed the effect of social consensus in a study whereby participants were shown a list of fictitious donators and their donations and then asked to donate money to a heart foundation charity. A control condition was used where subjects were only requested for the money and no fake donors were shown first. Reingen found participants were much more likely to donate money when others were thought to have donated first, and also that the likelihood of a donation increased as the number of donors shown first increased. Relating this back to the dodge dart, this shows why posting on social sites would be so important to the campaign. The more people thought to be interested in the car may in turn influence more people to be interested in it as well.

There are many more persuasive techniques I could write about this advertising campaign, like legitimizing paltry contributions by encouraging people to contribute as little as they like towards the car, and the pique technique because this is such a strange and novel idea. Now the company need to hope that even if this registry idea doesn’t sell many cars (you can cancel it and get the money donated back after a number of days of your choice), it generates a lot of discussion and attention for the product!

McCullough, J. L., & Ostrom, T. M., (1974). Repetition of highly similar messages and attitude change. Journal of Applied Psychology, 59(3), 395-397.

Moore, D. J., & Reardon, R., (1987). Source magnification: The role of multiple sources in the processing of advertising appeals. Journal of Marketing Research, 24(4), 412-417.

Reingen, P. H., (1982). Test of a list procedure for inducing compliance with a request to donate money. Journal of Applied Psychology, 67, 110-118.


  1. Just thought I'd mention - Sorry this is so long, I can cut out a section if I need to, I just got too into the research for it! I made the font small so that it didn't take up too much room on the blog. Just let me know if it needs shortening.

  2. Fascinating and great work. It really does combine a huge number of persuasive techniques.


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