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.

Monday, February 11, 2013

McDonalds "Nah, you're alright"

McDonald’s launched the next part of their favorite brand campaign with a TV advert created by Leo Burnett. This ad titled “Nah, you’re alright” uses emotion to capture its audience and is therefore a “Feeling ad” rather than a “Thinking ad” (Bagozzi, Gopinath, and Nyer 1999).  It brings to light the idea that McDonalds burgers can mend bridges between families. This is a very exaggerated opinion and I personally think a poor way of showing that “We all have McDonalds in common”. Thus although research shows that emotional appeal works in advertising, this advert uses negative rather than positive emotions which doesn’t fit into McDonalds “happy” feel. Emotions are omnipresent throughout marketing as they influence information processing, mediate responses to persuasive appeals, and measure the effects of marketing stimuli (Bagozzi, Gopinath, & Nyer 1999). Affective responses, such as moods and feelings evoked by an advertisement are found to be antecedents of the attitude toward the ad (Batra & Ray, 1986). It is generally acknowledged that emotions and moods trigger buying responses (Gardner 1985).

A study by Geuens and De Pelsmacker (1999) investigated emotions and affect intensity on communication effects of different emotional (warm, humorous, and erotic) and non-emotional advertising appeals. Participants were asked to complete the 40-item 6-point Likert-type AIM scale. Then they were asked to rate their cognitions, attitude towards the brand and feelings for every ad. Cognitions were measured by having the respondents indicate whether or not the ad evoked ad-related, brand-related, advertiser-related, or other thoughts. Attitude towards the ad was measured by means of a five-item scale. An manipulation check consisted of two statements for each emotional appeal (e.g., “the ad is humorous” or “the ad is amusing”). Results showed that affect intensity seems to be mood specific, and the predicted effects of affect intensity seem to occur more in the case of warm and humorous appeals than erotic appeals.

Repetition in advertising is known to lead to increased memory for that brand.  However, this advert uses repetition of the phrase “Nah, you’re alright” which although may increase consumers memory for the give situation may not necessarily increase memory for the brand, McDonalds. Especially given that McDonalds slogan is “Im Lovin’ It”. The language used in this advert also comes across as rather incomprehensible. Instead of being grammatically correct and saying, “No, I am okay”, the response is in a Northern accent, “Na you’re alright”, which is slightly confusing at first.  However, due to the repetition of this phase, it becomes clearer what they mean.

The visual effects of this advert is also not appealing. For example, at the start the atmosphere is that of a rainy and cloudy day. The dim and dark shades used throughout the advert create a negative and low mood for the observer since studies have shown some colors have positive effects and negative effects on people. According to (Ou., Luo., Woodcock & Wright, 2004) “Colors play an important role for customers in making decisions on what they like and dislike. They evoke various emotional feelings such as excitement, energy and calmness”. Research by K. Fehrman (2000) revealed, “color accounts for 60 percent of the acceptance or rejection of an object or a person”. Thus the dull and grey-tone colors used in this advert evoke a dull and low mood in those watching it, which in turn makes the observer less likely to want to go McDonalds. 

Therefore, although a lot of people do have McDonalds in common, surely a burger cannot mend a family issue like this advert seems to depict.


Bagozzi, Richard P., Mahesh Gopinath, and Prashanth U. Nyer (1999), "The Role of Emotions in Marketing," Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 27 (2), 184-206.
Fehrman, K., & Fehrman, C. (2000). Color: The secret influence. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.
Geuens, Maggie D. and Patrick De Pelsmacker (1999), "Affect Intensity Revisited: Individual Differences and the Communication Effects of Emotional Stimuli," Psychology and Marketing, 16 (3), 195-209.
Ou, L., & Lou, M., & Woodcock, A., & Wright, A. (2004). A study of colour emotion and colour preference. Color Research & Application, 29 (3), 232-240.

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