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.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The power of a great advert

Many people will remember this advert from its appearances on our TV screens several years ago. The fact that it is so memorable is part of the reason the advert was such a success, leading to a 400% increase in visits to Honda’s website (Hall, 2003). There are a variety of techniques employed in this advert to make it so memorable. Firstly is the use of creativity.  This in an effective advertising tool for a number of reasons, not least because people talk about creative adverts! (Altsech, 1997). This effectively provides free publicity for the company, through word of mouth, meaning the advert reaches more people and even gains ‘free’ views from people watching it online. The principle of social proof (Cialdini, 2007) is also engaged as people hearing good things about the advert from friends are getting positive endorsements of the product and are therefore more likely to like it themselves. Furthermore, according to Altsech (1997), creative adverts generate more favourable views about the brand which therefore not only help to successfully promote the product, but also to improve the brand’s image as a whole.

As well as being creative, the advert is unique, and it is clear to the viewer that a lot of thought and effort has gone into making it. Interestingly, the sequence was all filmed for real and without the aid of computer graphics. In fact the only computer assisted alteration made was to reduce the glare on the cars windows at the end of the sequence! (Hall, 2003). The unique and artistic qualities of the advert mean that it attracts the viewers’ attention and sparks their interest resulting in the advert not only being remembered better, but also more liked, and people’s positive feelings towards the advert may be transferred onto the product through the principle of association (Pratkanis, 2007).

The advert also uses Goldenburg, Mazursky and Solomon’s (1999) dimensionality alteration template. The dimensions of the product in relation to the environment are manipulated, in this case by dividing the product into its components and creating a relationship between the parts emphasizing how all the components work well together. This is further evidenced toward the end of the advert where the voiceover questions the audience, “isn’t it nice when things just work?”, suggesting to the viewer that the product is just as functioning as the impressive Rube Goldberg-esque sequence that they have just observed.

This advert is a great example of how techniques such as creativity and association can be used to create highly successful adverts; if we enjoy watching an advert we are more likely to think highly about the product, which may in turn sway our decision making when choosing our next car!

Altsech, M. B. (1997). The assessment of creativity in advertising and the effectiveness of creative advertisements. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, 35, 3585-3585.

Cialdini, R. B. (2001). Influence: Science and practice. (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

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

Hall, E. (2003). Honda ad generates global buzz. Retrieved Feb. 5, 2014, from

Pratkanis, A. (2007). The science of social influence: Advances and future progress. New York: Psychology Press.

Ellen Quigley

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