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.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Warning! Dangerous Sausage!

This advertisement belongs to the Northern Bariatric Surgery Institute, delivering a clear and succinct message- obesity is suicide, which is featured by the double-chinned fat man hanging himself with a bunch of sausages. Whoever thought of committing suicide with sausages? “Does it have to end this way?”

Similar to the former analysis of this advertisement, the image with the obese man being killed by the sausage-shaped rope, and the affirmative and declarative sentence: obesity is suicide provoke fear among readers. Apart from the study conducted by Yan et al. (2012) introduced in the previous analyses, back to 1966, Debbs and Leventhal have already come across similar results, stating that fear leads to more persuasive messages. Accordingly, the experiment examined on whether tetanus shots were perceived as perfectly preventive or as the only preventive measure although it is imperfect. Subjects were divided into different groups receiving three types of descriptions of the shots: non-threatening talk, mildly threatening talk, and strongly threatening talk.

      Unsurprisingly, the study therefore suggested that high-fear messages created stronger beliefs and were considered as more persuasive than low-fear messages regardless of the ascribed effectiveness of shots. This can be explained by the self-protection system that is activated by the fear-eliciting cues. (Res, 2009) Regarding Alcock (2005), when an animal is threatened by a predator, rather than being the individual target, it will walk back to the crowd of animals in order to look less salient. Likewise, human beings are evolved to survive and self-protection state will be activated in harmful situation. (Leventhal, 1971) Applying the phenomenon to this advert, the threat of being killed by obesity can provoke fear that raises people’s awareness. Hence, in order to protect themselves, they may try to keep fit and maintain a healthy diet. Fear increase is thus explained to be positively associated with persuasion.

     Furthermore, this particular advert adopted two templates from the creative template approach: the Pictorial Analogy Template and the Consequences Template, which underlies the formation of a quality advert, with the enhancement of focused creativity and more effective outcomes. (Goldenberg et al., 1999) The Pictorial Analogy Template describes the symbolic introduction of the product. The advert symbolises obesity with sausage and demonstrates the message of “suicide” with the sausage-shaped rope to represent suicidal act as hanging oneself. This indicates over-eating of unhealthy food (sausage) that may possibly lead to obesity (the double chin fat man) is seen as committing suicide (hanging oneself with the sausage-shaped rope). While for the Consequence template, consequence means the phenomenon that is resulted from the product-attributing message. It does not have to be exaggerating or extreme. In this advert, both image and the message “obesity is suicide” clearly convey the consequence: commit suicide.

     Whoever realised that sausage could kill people? This advert presents the danger of obesity in a fearful yet creative way. From now on, stay away from sausages and beware of obesity.

Alcock, J. (2005). Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach (8th ed.). Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates.

Dabbs, J. M. and Leventhal, H. Effects of varying the recommendations in a fear arousing communication. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4, 525-531.

Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D., & Solomon, S. (1999). The Fundamental Templates of Quality Ads. Marketing Science, 18, 333-351.

Leventhal, H. (1971). Fear Appeals and Persuasion: The Differentiation of a Motivational Construct. American Journal of Public Health, 61, 1208-1224.

Res, J. M. (2009). Fear and Loving in Las Vegas: Evolution, Emotion, and Persuasion. Journal of Marketing Research, 46, 384-395.

Yan, C., Dillard, J. P., & Shen, F. (2012). Emotion, Motivation, and the Persuasive Effects of Message Framing. Journal of Communication, 62, 682-700.

Ching Yiu Ng

1 comment:

  1. I laughed out aloud at your intro! Well done. I felt the tetanus research could have been explained more clearly.


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