Child: Over here Mrs. Rodriguez, it’s our week to take the recycling down to the center. (Child hands a paper bag filled with newspapers to his mother who places it in a truck. Mrs. Rodriguez does the same.
Child: Gee, dad, where is Mr. Jenkins? (Mrs. Rodriguez rolls her eyes)
Dad: (disappointed) Well, son, you see, Mr. Jenkins doesn’t recycle.
Camera rolls over to Mr. Jenkins’ garden filled with newspapers and then back to the child. A single tear rolls down the child’s cheek.
One way to persuade people to behave in a certain way is to show all people who engage in that positive behavior. This message, however, uses a strategy of focusing the attention of the recipient on the minority who do not adhere to the rules of a community. This way that minority (in this case the people who do not recycle, or rather Mr. Jenkins) is pointed out to the large group who abide by the rules. The message is over exaggerated by the single tear rolling down the child’s face – this is supposed to show the deep emotions of the child towards the fact that Mr. Jenkins is such a bad example in their community. The idea of the single tear was used before in the 70s Keep America Beautiful message. In this commercial a Native American reacted to a destruction of the environment by shedding a single, powerful tear.
Goldstein, N.J., Martin,S.J., Cialdini,R.B., (2008) Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive. New York City, NY : Free Press Simon&Schuster Inc.