Finally a charity ad campaign with some originality!
Initially this advert is funny because of the juxtaposition of a man in what looks like Saharan Africa casually holding a pint of lager. It is an unexpected image that successfully catches our attention, and in particular to the all-too-familiar cheeky pint. However once we look closer and see that the advert is a charity appeal, we feel guilty for laughing.
Guilt is a popular way for companies, through advertising, to get you to comply – guilt sells (Pratkanis, 2007).
Daniel J. O'Keefe (2002) states that one of the ways that guilt is aroused is by drawing the subject's attention to an existing inconsistency between the target's behaviour, and his or her own standards. In this case, our standards are likely to be that we believe in helping others and reducing world suffering. However our behaviour or actions are likely to be inconsistent with this i.e. we give little, if any, money to charity. We don't even think twice, however, when opening our wallets at the pub for our weekly (or daily) sesh. Now we feel guilty.
So what can we do to reduce our guilt? As if by chance, the advertisement then recommends a solution to your current state of guilt by stating that a mere €1.50 can buy 50 litres of fresh water. 'People In Need' are actually helping you reduce your guilt by offering you a solution – how thoughtful of them (O'Keefe, 2002).
This advert is particularly successful due to its subtlety. Cotte et al. (2005) asked a group of students to rate their initial reactions to televised adverts (MCI, EDF, Save the Children & Wrigley's Gum) using a Likert scale. They found that more explicit guilt appeals are significantly less persuasive than their less explicit counterparts. Results showed that more explicit guilt adverts arouse feelings of anger and annoyance. I'm sure we have all grumbled when our weekly 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians' marathon has been interrupted by a 'Unicef' commercial that shows depressing footage of skeletal children and crying babies in questionable hospitals of remote Ethiopia. It's not that we don't care, it's just that the adverts are the same every time and the ramming it down our throats method has gone stale.
The advert above is clever, and therefore successful, because instead of making us angry, it makes us smile. The skinny African man is nonchalantly holding a pint of beer in his hand instead of desperately staring into the camera as a single tear roles down his cheek; like all other charity ad campaigns. This is original and a welcome change.
Furthermore comparing the price of 50 litres of fresh water to the price of a third of a pint is a great way to capture the audience because if we don't think twice about handing over €4.50 for a drink, why should we think twice about SAVING THE WORLD.
Charities if you want our money, you gotta be funny!
Cotte, J., Coulter, R. A., & Moore, M. (2005). Enhancing or disrupting guilt: the role of ad credibility and perceived manipulative intent. Journal of Business Research. 58, 361-368.
O'Keefe, D. J. (2002) Guilt as a mechanism of persuasion. In J. P. Dillard & Michael Pfau (Eds.) The persuasion handbook: developments in theory and practice. CA: Sage.
Pratkanis, A. R. (2007). The Science of Social Influence. NY& East Sussex: Psychology Press.