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, January 23, 2014

Push up bra that really works

It can be noticed that many adverts posted up on this page uses the persuasion methods of physical attractiveness or humour, suggesting that they are popular methods applied by advertising firms and brands.  This Thai brassiere advert by Wacoal has cleverly manipulated both methods and became so popular with a hit rate over 11,209,000 on Youtube.  (The video link posted above is not the original copy of the video, the official copy of the video has been age restricted.)

In the beginning of the advert, a physically attractive girl with sexy outfit was shown.  Physically attractive persons are more attention getting and human has the desire to admire and become attractive (Pratkanis, 2007).  Moreover, studies have shown that when attractive models or communicators are used, receivers tend to make a more positive evaluation of the advert and the advertised product, in which attractive communicators tend to be more effective in persuading others.  This can be further explained by the halo effect, that people employed the heuristic of viewing attractive people as favourable in general, hence, people are more likely to comply with the ‘beauties’ (Langlois et al., 2000).  Despite the fact that sexual content may act as a distractor and inhibit specific information contained in the advertisements, it is more likely to catch attention, resulting in a greater recognition of the advert (Fried & Johanson, 2008).

The model removed ‘her’ makeup and her brassiere, then the audience realises the model is a man (sorry for the disappointment!).  Since this is a female brassiere advert and the model is physically attractive, the unexpected result has created humour, which is another persuasion method applied.  When humourous and non-humourous information are presented together, people are more likely to attend the humourous information (Hansen et al., 2009).  Hansen et al. (2009) further suggested that humour does not only increases attention paid on the advert but moderate humour can also facilitate encoding and retrieval of the associated advertisement components.  Therefore it is generally believed that humour improves the effectiveness of adverts.

Wacoal has successfully employed a combination of physical attractiveness, sex appeal and humour in the advert.  Nevertheless, the persuasion method, similarity, has also been applied. Female audience of the Wacoal advert may compare themselves with the model, even those without big boobies (just like the model) can create a ‘big boobies effect’ with the help of the Wacoal brassiere.  Then, those who like to have big boobies will be attracted to buy the brassiere.  When people see someone similar to them use the product, they are more likely to comply and purchase it.  In other words, when advert communicator and recipient are similar, the effectiveness in influence and persuasion increases (Pratkanis, 2007).  This social influence process is explained by the Festinger’s (1954) social comparison process, which people tend to compare with those who are similar to them.

Wing Shan Jennifer Chan


Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. Human relations, 7, 117-140.

Fried, C. B. and Johanson, J. C. (2008), Sexual and Violent Media's Inhibition of Advertisement Memory: Effect or Artifact?. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 38, 1716–1735.

Hansen, J., Strick, M., van Baaren, R. B., Hooghuis, M., & Wigboldus, D. H. J. (2009). Exploring memory for product names advertised with humour. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 8, 135-148.

Langlois, J. H., Kalakanis, L., Rubenstein, A. J., Larson, A., Hallam, M., & Smoot, M. (2000). Maxims or myths of beauty? A meta-analytic and theoretical review. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 390-423.

Pratkanis, A. R. (Ed.). (2007). Social influence analysis: An index of tactics. The Science of Social Influence: Advances and future progress. New York: Psychology Press.


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