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.

Friday, February 8, 2013

'ISA, ISA, Baby' - Halifax advert

The advert above is produced by Halifax, promoting the tax-free ISA accounts they are offering to customers.  A ‘similarity altercast’ has been used as an influencing technique.  Two employees have been portrayed as radio presenters and are advertising the ISA account over a radio show.  The woman links the acronym ISA with the famous 90’s Hip-Hop song, ‘Ice, Ice, Baby’ by Vanilla Ice.  Here, they are trying to create the impression that bank employees are ‘just plain folk’, and have a humorous side.  Brock (1965) found that individuals were more likely to be influenced by a paint salesman if they had recently witnessed him working than a highly experienced paint salesman.  The song is also quite catchy and therefore is used so that the audience can link the song to the advert and the bank.
However, with there being distrust towards financial institutions in general, especially after recent cases of high street banks (such as Northern Rock, Bradford and Bingley) reaching major problems as a result of the credit crisis (2007-2012), this technique may have not been a successful influencing method.  Instead, a highly credible source should have been used. 
McGinnies (1973), ran an experiment on Japanese students and questioned their attitudes towards the continued involvement of American troops in the Republic of South Vietnam.  Control participants all held attitudes which ranged from mild opposition to strong antagonism to the US policy in Vietnam, suggesting that the other participants would too hold similar views, and that none would be supportive of this policy.  McGinnies used an actual author, Ambassador Reischaner (high source credibility) and an American military advisor recently returned from duty in South Vietnam (low source credibility) as the two communicators.  The highly credible source was more persuasive to participants holding strong initial attitudes than the less credible source.  This study highlights why the above advert fails at influencing their audience as they have chosen a low credibility source to communicate its message.
Many businesses aim to be too creative and therefore focus on entertaining the audience and less on the message and whether it will actually inform and persuade its intended audience (Rotfeld, 2002).  The singing and comedy factor of the advert detracts the attention away from the actual message of the advert.  Attempts to persuade and influence the audience by adopting methods of using an altercast similar to its audience and a catchy song have backfired as the source credibility is lowered and attention is drawn away from the actual message.
Brock, T. C. (1965). Communicator-recipient similarity and decision change. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1(6), 650.
McGinnies, E. (1973). Initial attitude, source credibility, and involvement as factors in persuasion. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 9(4), 285-296.
Rotfeld, H. J. (2002). Misplaced marketing The real reason for the real bad advertising. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 19(4), 299-301.


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