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.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Miss Dior


This Christian Dior perfume advertisement used beautiful and adorable actress Natalie Portman. In the background the audience could hear the "Je t'aime...moi non plus" song by Gainsbourg and Birkin's, which is positive, romantic and so French. The advertisement used numerous techniques to persuade the audience to purchase this product.

Firstly, Dior invited a well known and iconic actress to promote his perfume. Portman performed in films such as ‘Black Swan’ or ‘The other Boleyn girl’ and her name made the advertisement, and the perfume memorable for consumers. Famous persons used in advertisements create positive feelings about the company, they are also perceived as more influential, entertaining, and more appealing to the audience (Salomon, 2002).

What’s more, the advert has intimate and romantic connotations, which is a successful tactic in persuasion (Reichert & Ramirez, 2000). In one scene we can see Portman in the bathtub wearing only sunglasses, in another she wears only a hair band and eyeliner. She also undresses her partner and kisses him passionately on a bed, and he is attracted to her. However, the advert is not overtly sexual, Portman looks elegant and feminine. The message to the audience is to be sexually appealing like Natalie Portman, and use Miss Dior perfume, and then, they too will attract a man.

Dior evokes positive emotions in women, because he portrays a romantic relationship in which a woman is adored, kissed, and receives flowers from her partner. In addition, the colours in the advertisement are subtle pastels, which indicates delicacy and purity, and the white swan in one of the scenes is a symbol of innocence and beauty. The advert has connotations related to romance, youth, and love, which money cannot buy (although, this could be questionable). Dior used visual persuasion to generate sensory expectations. Puffery and imagery employed in the advert involved exaggerated visual (and verbal) statements, which has a powerful influence on the audience’s attitudes and beliefs (McQuarrie & Phillips, 2005) related to the romantic scenario portrayed. The overall message to women is very appealing, but exaggerated.

Toncan and Fetscherin (2012) studied women’s fragrance advertisements. They presented the participants with some ads, and asked them to describe with the use of adjectives, how they envisioned the scent, and what expectations they had. Then the olfactory perception test was performed, participants evaluated the fragrance, described it using the same adjectives, and compared the actual product with their expectations. It was found that very high expectations regarding perfume adverts were not met when the participants used the fragrance.

Visual puffery was an effective technique in fragrance advertisement, because it magnified the features of the product. Visual puffery captures consumer’s attention, it may lead to the product purchase, and it is not recognized immediately (Toncan & Fetscherin, 2012). Puffery gives expectations of the product that may be greater that it subsequent evaluation. On the other hand, weaker message may not motivate the consumers enough, and they may not develop expectations leading to the fragrance purchase.

Perfume adverts appeal to consumers, because not only they offer the fragrance, but also the imagery that is associated with the product.


McQuarrie, E., & Phillips, B. (2005). Indirect persuasion in advertising: How consumers process metaphors presented in pictures and words. Journal of Advertising, 34, 7-21.

Reichert, T., & Ramirez, A. (2000). Defining sexually oriented appeals in advertising: A grounded theory investigation. Advances in Consumer Research, 27, 267-273.

Solomon, M. R. (2002). Consumer behavior: Buying, having, and being. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Toncar, M., & Fetscherin, M. (2012). A study of visual puffery in fragrance advertising: Is the message sent stronger than the actual scent? European Journal of Marketing, 46, 52-72.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, Miss Dior is so French, non?

    So, you are using Toncar and Fetscherin to argue that because expectations are not met..."It was found that very high expectations regarding perfume adverts were not met when the participants used the fragrance"...that "Therefore, perfume adverts appeal to women, because they offer high expectations associated with romance, beauty and youth." That seems odd. I would expect women to demand that their expectations be met as much as any other gender. Maybe Toncar and Fetscherin also suggest that expectations lead to great intentions to purchase? If that were the case, then it would explain the utility in creating high expectations. Non?

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