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, February 15, 2013
Nike Hyperdunk Shoes
This is one of the print ads that Nike used in its 2008 for its Hyperdunk basketball shoes. The TV adverts were a great success featuring Kobe Bryant wearing the shoes and jumping over an Aston Martin. The print ads were not so successful as they were supposed to show a basketball player wearing the Hyperdunk shoes being able to out jump and slam dunk over another player not wearing the shoes, causing embarrassment to this player. However in doing this, the picture shows the defenders face in another man's crotch, with the slogan "that ain't right" causing outrage as some as depicted a homophobic attitude, rather than it not being right being on the receiving end of an impressive dunk as intended. The public outcry resulted in the adverts being scrapped.
The advert tried to use embarrassment as a persuasive technique, so that people would buy the shoes in order to avoid being embarrassed like the player in the picture, which can be a very influential when used correctly, and without any connotations to homophobia. Compliance increases in individuals who have been embarrassed, Aplser (1975) found that students were more likely to help another student on a project when they had been asked to perform an embarrassing act, regardless of what the other student knew about it due to needing to restore self-image. Embarrassment is also a powerful tool as people tend to want to avoid embarrassing situations as Foss and Crenshaw (1978) found in a study using 64 participants (equal numbers of male and female) and non-emergency situations. Men were more likely to help a women who dropped envelopes than when she dropped a box of tampons, which could be a potentially embarrassing encounter. Therefore companies can use this technique to promote their product by embarrassing people who don't own the product, so that the target audience avoid the chance to be embarrassed by purchasing the product, in this case Hyperdunk shoes.
The advert had a good idea motivating it, and to many people the advert is humorous. But for adverts to be successful they should't be associated with negative public attitudes, so the embarrassment should have be depicted in a non offensive way.
Aplser, R. (1975). Effects of embarrassment on behaviour towards others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 145-153.
Foss, R. D., & Crenshaw, N. C. (1978). Risk of embarrassment and helping. Social Behaviour and Personality, 6, 243-245.