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.

Monday, February 18, 2013

That's my secret, Cap: I'm always angry

This advertisement promotes Johnson & Johnson’s flexible plasters (or, ‘band-aids’) in the United Arab Emirates, and it was later deployed to other territories.

The core message is that the plasters are flexible and resilient, evidenced by the use of the Marvel character ‘Hulk’, who transforms into a giant, green rage-monster when angry. Such a message exploits the ‘Extreme Situation’ template from Goldenberg, Mazursky, and Solomon’s (1999) taxonomy. The template states that deliberately over-emphasising a product’s core feature – in this case, the plasters’ flexibility – draws attention to it, despite the absurdity of the plaster withstanding a superhero’s physical transformation.

In addition to the Extreme Situation template, the advert utilises a variation on the ‘High-Status Admirer Altercast’. Although the Hulk is not a typical hero figure that people aspire to be, he is still a highly popular character in fictional media, such as comics and films (Genter, 2007). Consequently, his inclusion adds credibility to the advert. In the scientific literature, high source popularity effects greater attitude change than low popularity. Wrench and Booth-Butterfield (2002) demonstrated that hospital patients assisted by a physician popular with other staff generated greater satisfaction ratings than participants with a quiet, less popular physician.

Genter, R. (2007). “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”: Cold War Culture and the Birth of Marvel Comics. The Journal of Popular Culture40, 953-978.

Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D., & Solomon, S. (1999). The fundamental templates of quality ads. Marketing Science18, 333-351.

Wrench, J. S., & Booth‐Butterfield, M. (2003). Increasing patient satisfaction and compliance: An examination of physician humor orientation, compliance‐gaining strategies, and perceived credibility. Communication Quarterly51, 482-503.

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