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.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


STRONG, SEXY WOMEN WHO SMELL NICE. Dior’s appropriation of the epitome of feminine beauty and allure, Marilyn Monroe, is both utterly transparent but equally formidable in terms of advertising strategy. In preparation for the catwalk, she not only uses but demands that golden Dior perfume, cradling it like baby Jesus.

Dior piggybacks on the publicity boom sparked by Monroe for Chanel in the 1950s, procuring her proven and famous influence for their perfume instead. This hints at their self-assurance as the modern woman’s preference over the outdated competitor Chanel (Goldenberg et al, 1999), “Marilyn’s moved on to better things, so you need to as well”.

Like almost all perfume advertisers, Dior uses a modern beauty, but their additional use of idols of past generations was genius. Their target market broadens, attracting women of all ages who want to feel beautiful and fashionable. They bring together the forces of Dietrich, Kelly, Monroe and Theron for a fashion show (an event itself embodying adoration, admiration and trend at its height). We follow the modern icon through the dressing room, bringing us into a world where beauty commands respect, fame and power, even if it arrives late! The association of the perfume with these kinds of women is a powerful technique, shown by Kahle and Homer (1985) and described by Pratkanis (2007) as the High Status-Admirer and Physically Attractive-Admirer Altercasts: famous, attractive people make you buy stuff. I mean, you see her back and everything. Also, the golden colour that pervades the ad persuasively enhances viewers’ attitudes, as it mirrors the designers’ “value and success” message (Meyers-Levy & Peracchio, 1995).

Dior uses analogy to powerful effect in more complex ways than are first apparent. The only words spoken on screen are, “Dior, j’adore” by Monroe and, “J’adore Dior” by Charlize Theron. Charlize reflects and embodies Marilyn in this way, as well as standing as a clever and blatant visual analogy (Goldenberg et al, 1999) for the perfume bottle on the catwalk, tying the women to it in a more intimate way than could a simple touch or look. As Theron with her golden necklace fades and becomes the bottle, subject and object blur into one. In being used and treasured by these idols, the perfume persists as them.

In purchasing Dior, you possess the liquid allure, power and beauty of these iconic women.


Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D. & Solomon, S. (1999), The Fundamental Templates of Quality Ads.  Marketing Science, 18:3, 333-351.

Kahle, L.R. & Homer, P.M. (1985), Physical Attractiveness of the Celebrity Endorser: A Social Adaptation Perspective, Journal of Consumer Research, 11:4, 954-961.

Pratkanis, A. (Ed.) (2007). The Science of Social Influence: Advances and Future Progress. Psychology Press.

Meyers-Levy, J. & Peracchio, L. A. (1995), Understanding the Effects of Color: How the Correspondence Between Available and Required Resources Affects Attitudes, The Journal of Consumer Research, 22:2, 121-138.

By Alek Lagowski

1 comment:

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.