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.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Buy Diesel shoes and people will lick them clean.

This advert for Diesel shows an attractive man sitting in an armchair with an older man lying at his feet, appearing to worship the younger man’s shoes. By combining the techniques of attractiveness, contrast and an extreme situation, this advert is successful in trying to persuade people to buy Diesel shoes.

Using an attractive model helps sell the Diesel brand. Joseph (1992) found that physically attractive people in adverts were more likely than unattractive people to have a positive impact on the products they are being associated with. In this case, the attractive model is creating a positive image of the shoes; giving the impression that Diesel shoes are worn by attractive people, and you too could be attractive if you bought them. Furthermore, using attractive models increases people’s perceptions of the expertise the model has of the product, (Bower & Landreth, 2001). This means we will trust that the attractive man is a credible source, giving an impression of a quality product that we would be silly not to buy. Attractiveness not only suggests that this is a good product, but also that the model is an expert we can trust.

The contrast between the attractiveness of the two men also aids the persuasive message. Tormala & Clarkson (2007) found that after being exposed to a high credibility source, people rated a persuasive advert with a moderate credibility source as less persuasive than people who were initially exposed to a low credibility source. The perceptual contrast effect is used here: pairing an attractive man with an unattractive man means each makes the other look more extreme. With regard to the credibility argument, this means the attractive man will appear to be even more of an expert source of knowledge, and create an even better image of the product.

The extreme situation template is used here to create an unrealistic image of how much other people will love your new Diesel shoes. For example, having a man on the floor, rubbing his face on someone else’s shoes is an exaggeration, but it gives the impression that these are THE shoes to have, and that they will gain you respect from other people, (Goldenberg, Mazursky & Solomon, 1999).

The main technique used here is attractiveness, but by also using contrast and an extreme situation, Diesel are exaggerating the persuasive message even further, which is what makes this advert so effective.


Bower, A., & Landreth, S. (2001). Is beauty best? Highly versus normally attractive models in advertising. Journal of Advertising, 30, 1-12.

Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D., & Solomon, S. (1999). The fundamental templates of quality ads. Marketing Science, 18 (3), 333-351.

Joseph, W. B. (1982). The credibility of physically attractive communicators: A review. Journal of Advertising, 11, 15-24.

Tormala, Z., & Clarkson, J. (2007). Assimilation and contrast in persuasion: The effects of source credibility in multiple message situations. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33, 559-571.

Katherine Stevens

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