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.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Nicole Scherzinger has cleverly been chosen to represent Herbal Essences ‘Honey I’m strong’ range. This advert depicts the singer with strong healthy-looking hair, and directly compares the reader to the star, highlighting their apparent similarities.

The truth is, the experts at herbal essences are using classic persuasive techniques to tempt you to buy their product. They know full well that we are more likely to buy from people that we consider to be similar to ourselves and that there is research supporting this. For example, Aune and Basil (1994) found that donations to charity more than doubled when the requester claimed to be similar to the buyer. So they purposely use the phrase ‘just like the performer Nicole Scherzinger, you’re…’ to make you feel like you and she are one in the same. But think about it, how many of you would really describe yourselves as ‘fierce’ or ‘cool’? My guess is not that many.

Research has also shown that attractive (versus unattractive) communicators are consistently liked more and have a positive impact on the products with which they are associated (Joseph, 1982). Now, let’s be honest ladies, who wouldn’t kill to look like Nicole Scherzinger? We all know she’s gorgeous. And I’m sure the lads out there wouldn’t say no! So using an attractive spokesperson for the product is clearly going to attract people to buy it. Especially if it gives the impression that by using the product, you will have hair that rivals the beauty of Nicole’s.

It is also a well-known fact that celebrities sell. The customer’s attitude towards purchasing a product is heavily influenced by celebrity endorsement (Pughazhendi, Thirunavukkarasu & Susendiran, 2011) and celebrities can be used to gain attention as well as maintain sales (Tom et al, 1999). Nicole Scherzinger has a huge fan base, especially since taking up residence on the ‘love it or hate it’ show X-factor and herbal essences are using this to their advantage as they know that people who like Nicole are much more likely to buy a product that is associated with her.

So ladies, and perhaps even all you men out there seeing as we’re now in an era where you seem to be just as obsessed with your hair… in future, don’t be fooled! It is simply a combination of clever persuasive techniques used to boost sales that is drawing you to products such as this.

Aunel, R.K., & Basil, M. D. (1994) A Relational Obligations Approach to the Foot-In-The-Mouth Effect. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 24(6), 546–556.
Joseph,W.B. (1982),"The Credibility of Physically Attractive  Communicators: A Review,"Journal of Advertising, 11(3), 15-24.
Pughazhendi, A., Thirunavukkarasu, R., & Susendiran, S. (2011) A Study on Celebrity Based Advertisements on the Purchase Attitude of Consumers towards Durable Products in Coimbatore city, Tamil Nadu, India. Far East Journal of Marketing and Management, 1, 16-27.
Tom, G., Clark, R., Elmer, L., Grech, E., Masetti, J., & Sandhar, H. (1992) "The Use of Created Versus Celebrity Spokespersons in Advertisements". Journal of Consumer Marketing, 9(4), 45 – 51.

Natasha Foxon.

1 comment:

  1. Very good, nicely written and nicely structured.


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