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.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Burger King vs. MacDonald's

A student from last year’s cohort simply stated that this advert (run by Burger King in 2006) was using the competition template. This is one of the six templates identified by Goldenberg, Mazursky and Solomon (1999) that the majority of the adverts they analysed conformed to.  I do not disagree with the interpretation that this advert seeks to suggest that eating experience at Burger King is superior to that of MacDonald’s and hence belittle it’s competitor but I also think a number of other techniques are being employed which are worth exploring.

In order to link the advert to MacDonald’s Burger King has chosen to use the term ‘clown’. This is clever because not only does it quickly associate the observer with MacDonald’s but it also can be interpreted as a derogative term. The word clown has connotations of a fool. Hence this could be an example of another one of Goldenburg et al.’s (1999) templates- the consequences technique. The consequence being: if you eat MacDonald’s you are a fool. This negative consequence is further emphasised by the contrast between the clown and king (yes, you’ve guessed it, another one of Goldenburg’s et al.’s (1999) templates!).

The use of all three templates tap in to a basic human desire- to have a positive self-image. We want to eat somewhere we feel like a king rather than clown. The desire to avoid an insult or jeer was explored by Janes and Olson (2000) who found that participants exposed to video recordings of someone being ridiculed by a comedian were more likely to subsequently conform to the instructions of the experimenter than those that watched a film clip containing non-target comedy. So by created an atmosphere or connotation of ridicule we can increase conformity because people seek to avoid the negative feelings associated with insults.

The messages described above are the focus of the advert rather the taste and value of the food itself- although we are given an example of the product and price. The radiating beams of angelic light really hammering home the point how the superiority of their brand. Although, if we are honest, the burgers never actually look that good!

By Alex Bamsey

Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D., & Solomon, S. (1999). The fundamental templates of quality ads. Marketing Science, 18(3), 333-351.

Janes, L. M., & Olson, J. M. (2000). Jeer pressure: The behavioral effects of observing ridicule of others. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26(4), 474-485.

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