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.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Diet Coke Hunk


The celebration of Diet Coke’s 30th anniversary reintroduced the famous ‘Diet Coke hunk’ back onto our screens who, to the despair of many, hasn’t been sighted since 2007. The advert shows a girly group of friends taking their typical Diet Coke break in the middle of the park when 'Mr Hunky Gardener' strolls past, casually mowing the grass. The ladies’ idea to prank him and soak him in Coke gives them more than they’ve bargained for - he is forced to slowly remove his sticky t-shirt and reveal his washboard abs, leaving them practically drooling as he walks away.
The persuasive elements of this advert are clearly focused on the target audience of young women as they are the primary drinkers of Diet Coke due to its low calorie content and stylish branding. The actresses in the advert are portrayed as a normal group of friends having an everyday break,  we like people who are similar to us and are more likely to comply with what they are doing (Burger, 2004) so the characters seem very relatable.
The use of the male model exploits the fact that ‘sex sells’ in advertising. Chaiken (1979) found that attractive people are more persuasive in changing the opinions of others, if the sexy gardener likes a cold can of Coke then why don’t you? During castings, Coca Cola chose the model that would be considered to be the most attractive to the widest audience, it is clear that tall dark and handsome is universally desired.
The backing track of Etta James’ famous ‘I Just Want to Make Love to You’ was used on the original advert in 1997. Hahn and Hwang (1999) found that familiar background music in advertising can increase message recognition as well as creating positive feelings and enhancing product perception. The song also related to the content of the advert and reinforced the women’s desire for the gardener.
This modern rendition of the advert from 1997 also contributed to its popularity, there was a certain amount of social media hype surrounding the revelation of a new ‘hunk’, teasers and behind-the-scenes videos were released on YouTube which additionally contributed to popularity. This can be related to the theory of social proof; if lots of people are watching the videos and talking about them then it is seen as the correct thing to do (Pratkanis, 2007).
Drinking Diet Coke in a public place isn’t always going to get you flirtatious eye-contact and a semi-naked strip show with a conveniently placed hottie but that’s not what the advert is trying to suggest. People know what Diet Coke is; the advert just boosts its appeal by relating it to attractive ideas and desired scenarios which get people talking.

Burger, J. M., Messian, N., Patel, S., Prado, A., & Anderson, C. (2004). What a coincidence! The effects of incidental similarity on compliance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30(1), 35-43.

Chaiken, S. (1979). Communicator physical attractiveness and persuasion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37(8), 1387.

Hahn, M., & Hwang, I. (1999). Effects of tempo and familiarity of background music on message processing in TV advertising: A resource-matching perspective. Psychology and Marketing, 16, 659
Pratkanis, A. R. (Ed.). (2007). The science of social influence. Psychology Press.

Katie Ashcroft

1 comment:

  1. Well done, I enjoyed it this! I definitely had the thought 'better get to the gym if girls like washboard abs'. Apparently that hadn't occurred to me before now!


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