Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

“Smart, the less polluting car of the world” - re-analysis




Last year, this poster was analysed as using ‘selective use of information’ and ‘imagination’ as the two persuasive techniques. I agree, nevertheless, I think contrast is the overarching technique used here. The poster displays two different landscapes (one showing polluted air and factory on the horizon and second showings beautiful, fresh and green nature).  In this context, the polluted landscape seems even more horrid than it would usually seem like and the beautiful natured seems somehow more greener and fresher. The contrast technique influences individual’s perception of two different products so the qualities are enhanced and the weaknesses are emphasized (e.g. Cantrill & Seibold, 1986; Pratkanis, 2007).

I do not want to push my luck here, but I think there are another two closely connected techniques used. These are association and metaphor. 

We enjoy fresh air and beautiful nature; furthermore contrasting it to polluted air and ugly factory increases our liking of nature. Smart car represent an eco-friendly car. Because the picture of nature represents the Smart car our liking of nature is thus transferred onto the car. The use of association is supported by Krishnan (1996).

Moreover, all of this yields one big metaphor. This metaphor emphasizes the state of the planet Earth and thus implying that our conscious will be “clean, pure and fresh” if we buy a Smart car but it will be “polluted and dirty” if we buy any other car.  Both Mitchell and Olson (1981) and Se-Hoon Jeong (2008) suggested that using metaphor in advertisements may be more persuasive compared to advertisements that use non-metaphorical verbal arguments. Petty and Cacioppo (1986) and Eagly and Chaiken (1993) explained this success by the degree of cognitive involvement we dedicate to the ad; the greater the involvement, the greater the persuasive strength. Furthermore, people are more likely to adopt something if they figured it out by themselves (Messaris, 1997).

So what it is going to be, clean conscious or polluted one?


Cantrill, J. G. and Seibold, D. R. (1986), The Perceptual Contrast Explanation of Sequential Request Strategy Effectiveness. Human Communication Research, 13: 253–267.

Eagly, A. H. & Chaiken, S. (1993) Psychology of Attitudes (Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt, Brace,
Jovanovich).

Krishnan, H.S.(1996) Characteristics of memory associations: A consumer-based brand equity perspective, International Journal of Research in Marketing, 13(4), 389-405.

Messaris, P. (1997) Visual Persuasion: The Role of Images in Advertising (Thousand Oaks: Sage).

Mitchell, A. A. & Olson, J. C. (1981) Are product attribute beliefs the only mediator of advertising effects on brand attitude?, Journal of Marketing Research, 18(3), pp. 318–332.

Petty, R. E. & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986) Communication and Persuasion: Central and Peripheral Routes t to Attitude Change (New York: Springer-Verlag).

Pratkanis, A. R. (2007). Social influence analysis: An index of tactics. The science of social influence: Advances and future progress, 17-82.

SeHoon Jeong (2008) Visual Metaphor in Advertising: Is the Persuasive Effect Attributable to Visual Argumentation or Metaphorical Rhetoric?, Journal of Marketing
Communications, 14:1, 59-73.




A blog by Bebe

(Alzbeta Husakova)

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