When choosing an advert from last year’s cohort there was no way I could pick any other than the above, as analysed by Deborah Willis:
The advert produced by Skoda for the release of the Skoda Fabia caused quite a stir, and even won an advertising award. What then, apart from the nation’s love for Julie Andrews, made this such a persuasive advertising campaign?
One important aspect to consider in this analysis is that Skoda had been developing a bad reputation before this ad campaign and therefore this ad was their bid to increase confidence in the brand. The first persuasive technique that has been taken advantage of is association. This is a technique which involves linking an idea or an object to another concept so that the original aspect takes on the positive aspects of the associated object. In this case the car is associated with (the best thing ever?) cake. By associating these two things, the advertisers have evoked positive feelings from us about the product despite the fact the two items are in no way related! Association was shown to be a powerful tool in liking by Lott and Lott (1960) who demonstrated that liking for a previously neutral person went up significantly when paired with the receiving of a prize. It has even been found that association is particularly effective when the item is associated with the other item on irrelevant attributes (Warlop and Alba, 2004). Which is this ad in a nutshell!
Another aspect of the ad that wasn't directly used but that ensued after its release is the idea of social consensus. Social consensus is that feeling we get when everyone is doing something and we want to do it too! In the case of this ad I vividly remember people asking “have you seen the Skoda cake advert?” We then begin to feel that because everyone else is doing it, this must be the correct thing to do. Milgram, Bickman and Berkowitz (1969) demonstrated this in a simple study in which confederates were told to stand on a street and look up. They found that the more confederates there were was directly related to the amount of people who came and copied their behaviour. In the case of Skoda the surge in popularity for the ad is believed to have been the reason it came out of its slump. By creating an advert that everyone had to watch, they were able to regain their popularity. They did this without having to revamp the company or investing in a radical new design but simply by associating their car with cakes!
This shows how popularity of an advert, which hinges on the principles of association, is enough to completely change a company’s image. Everyone loves a success story. Although to mar this with tragedy apparently by the time the cake car had been made it was too mouldy to eat. I could have cried.
Milgram, S., Bickman, L., & Berkowitz, L. (1969). Note on the drawing power of crowds of different size. Journal of personality and social psychology, 13(2), 79.
Lott, B. E., & Lott, A. J. (1960). The formation of positive attitudes toward group members. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 61(2), 297.
Warlop, L., & Alba, J. W. (2004). Sincere flattery: Trade-dress imitation and consumer choice. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 14(1), 21-27.