The above is an advertisement created for Dove in 2004 in order to promote their new range of firming lotions. The advert shows a group of women in their underwear reading “As tested on real curves”.
A persuasive weapon that this advert uses is social proofing. This is the idea that we decide what is correct based on what other people think is correct. A study by Milgram, Bickman and Berkowitz (1969) found that when they placed a few confederates to stand in the street and look up at a building, passerbys copied the looking up response just because they saw others doing it. In another study, Nosanchuk and Lightstone (1974) asked participants to judge the quality of some anecdotes. They found that in the presence of canned laughter, participants laughed out loud even though their private ratings indicated they did not find it funny. So the more it appears that everyone is doing ‘it’, the more people are likely to join in! The women in the advert are using Dove firming products so therefore it is clearly good and all women should use it. As a result Dove do not need to tell us how good their product is because the women in the advert show it is with their happy appearances.
Additionally, this advert uses the technique of similarity in order to sell the firming products. This is because they use ‘real women’ in the advert and not the usual stick thin catwalk models that normally appear in advertisements for beauty products. The use of similarity is when social proofing works the best. If we see that people like us using a product then we are more likely to buy it ourselves. For example, Aune and Basil (1994) found that when the requester claimed to be similar to the buyer (e.g. both being students), donations to a charity more than doubled compared to when the requester was talking to a faculty member.
So the question is, will you be trying Dove on your real curves?
Aune, R. K., & Basil, M. D. (1994). A Relational Obligations Approach to the Foot-In-The-Mouth Effect. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 24, 546-556.
Milgram, S., Bickman, L., & Berkowitz, L. (1969). Note of the drawing power of crowds of different size. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 13, 79-82.
Nosanchuk, T. A., & Lightstone, J. (1974). Canned laughter and public and private conformity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 29, 153-156.