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.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Blue Ukulele vs. Nick Swain's Sister?

Being in the position of a candidate in the most recent SU elections I got to see everyone's persuasive techniques. One of the tightest races was the fight for Welfare & Campaigns Officer, and the 2 main candidates were Amy Swain and Cathryn (Cat) Turhan. Aside from their policies, both had opening gambits to try and gain attention from voters, both of which worked to great effect.

Amy opened the majority of her interactions with potential voters with the line 'Hi I'm Amy Swain, no relation to Nick Swain - I'm not his sister, or his wife!'. At the time Nick Swain was in a certain amount of hot water, but was still very popular. Research has shown that using a celebrity endorser is a worthwhile investment (Agrawal & Kamakura, 1995), but also that if negative information about that celebrity endorser comes to light it can damage the brand (Till & Shimp, 1998). Amy Swain seemed to pitch herself perfectly by both mentioning Nick Swain, associating herself with him to those with whom he was still popular, and also saying that she was no relation to him, which would dissociate herself from him for those who were not fans of his who were considering that they may be in some way related. Essentially she managed to both associate herself with him and dissociate herself from him in one light-hearted sentence.

Cat on the other hand, carried around her blue ukulele, and used music to appeal to voters. The use of music has equally been shown to be effective, and seemed to work well for Cat. Music used in advertising can cause the product/brand/person to be associated with the positive feelings for the liked music (Gorn, 1982). The association with the colour blue may also have contributed to Cat's campaign. Blue is associated with trustworthiness and dependability in many cultures (Aslam, 2006), which are perfect traits for a Welfare & Campaigns Officer.


Agrawal, J., & Kamakura, W.A. (1995). The Economic Worth of Celebrity Endorsers: An Event Study Analysis. Journal of Marketing, 59, 56-62.

Aslam, M.M. (2006). Are You Selling the Right Colour? A Cross-cultural Review of Colour as a Marketing Cue. Journal of Marketing Communications, 12(1), 15-30.

Gorn, G.J. (1982). The effects of music in advertising on choice behaviour: a classical conditioning approach. Journal of Marketing, 46, 94-101.

Till, B.D., & Shimp, T.A. (1998). Endorsers in Advertising: The Case of Negative Celebrity Information. Journal of Advertising, 27(1), 67-82.

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