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.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ultra-fine pen



This advert for Papermate ultra-fine pens aims to demonstrate how finely the pen can write as the most salient attribute. In this situation, it is suggested that the nib is so fine that the user can cheat on exams by writing notes on a space as tiny as a nail. This is an example of the extreme attribute version of the extreme situation template (Goldenberg, Mazursky, & Solomon, 1999), as it shows an example of an extreme use of the product. Using a pen to write on a nail is an unrealistic situation, but this advert is suggesting that it is possible with this particular pen.

This template works by making the product’s main attribute salient, demonstrating an unrealistic scenario under which the product performs well. This extreme attribute evokes a sense of awe at the product, hence making it likely to be a more successful product (Berger, & Milkman, 2010). A study by Berger and Milkman (2010) compared several viral adverts invoking different types of positive (e.g. awe) and negative (e.g. sadness/anxiety) emotions. Results showed that adverts evoking strong positive emotions such as awe are more likely to become viral, hence providing a reason why the extreme attribute version of the extreme situation template appears to work so well.  


Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D., & Solomon, S. (1999). The fundamental templates of quality ads. Marketing Science, 18, 333-351.

Berger, J., & Milkman, K.L. (2010). Social transmission, emotion, and the virality of online content. Social Science Research Network Working Paper Series, 1-53.

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