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.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Carousel

This is a scene from the American period drama called Mad Men, which centres around an advertising agency in the 1960’s. In this clip one of the main characters Don Draper has to present an idea for an ad campaign for a new product to Kodak’s representatives.

In this clip there a two different kinds of persuasive messages going on, firstly there is the persuasive tactic aimed at the viewer in the way of product placement. Secondly, there are the many persuasive techniques used by Don Draper to convince Kodak to choose their company to run the advertising campaign for their new slide projector.

Research has found that product placement can not only increase recall for the product and the brand but also increase consumer purchasing (Gupta & Lord, 1998). This effect on attitudes and beliefs towards the product is exacerbated by the congruency between the plot of the show and the product placement (Russel, 2002). In this case the product placement is part of the story line, therefore creating high congruency.
Don Draper very cleverly introduces the slide projector as a ‘time machine’, claiming it takes you back through time, he even uses some personal ‘happy memories’ of his own by using pictures of his perfectly happy family life. Combine this with his incredibly smooth way with words and you’ve got a very persuasive pitch:

“Nostalgia literally means the pain from an old wound. It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards … it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel, it’s called the carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels — around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know we are loved.”

Don Draper plays on the persuasive technique of nostalgia, it’s effectiveness was recently tested by Muehling, and Sprott (2004). They wanted to investigate into thoughts and attitudinal responses of consumers exposed to nostalgic (versus non-nostalgic) advertisements. Participants were shown either a nostalgic or non-nostalgic advertisements (example shown below), where the ads were identical apart from parts of the text. Nostalgic cue replaced comparable, though non-nostalgic, cues in the headline (“re-live” versus “capture” the moment), in the date inserted below the dominant picture (“August 28, 1985” Versus “August 28, 2001”) etc. Attitudes towards the products and number of brand-/message-related thoughts were measured. Results showed that suggest that nostalgic cues in advertising do indeed influence the type of thoughts consumers have during ad exposure, and that these thought processes appear to have an influence on attitudes toward the advertisement and advertised brand.


Gupta, P. B., & Lord, K. R. (1998). Product placement in movies: The effect of prominence and mode on audience recall. Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising20, 47-59.
Muehling, D. D.,& Sprott, D. E. (2004). The power of reflection: an empirical examination of nostalgia advertising effects. Journal of Advertising, 33, 25-35.

Russell, C. A. (2002). Investigating the effectiveness of product placements in television shows: The role of modality and plot connection congruence on brand memory and attitude. Journal of consumer research29, 306-318.

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