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.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

M&S - Adventures In Imagination

We can all agree that when we see an M&S food advert, our mouths water and we lick our lips! Mmm... How do they do it? Imagery.

The 2014 advert shown above, was used to illustrate how imaginative food is when you shop ‘only M&S’. The retailer who provides 100 new ideas every month was able to showcase its creative talent through this advert.

M&S decided to show us food in a different light. Therefore giving us the chance to imagine the texture, smell and taste through colour and fresh ingredients. Showing customers how imagination can be a reality. The use of music and the sounds of: crackling, bursting and sizzling helps to generate further excitement and increases temptation.

The persuasive technique used is known as ‘Imagery Sells’, by imagining the concept we are more likely to consider or complete the next relevant action. In relation to the advert, M&S showed us how artistic they are with their food, causing us to imagine how delicious it would taste and subsequently buy it. 

George, Cialdini & Carpenter (1982), used the technique to find whether imagination would affect the subjects’ chances of subscribing to cable TV. Using door to door salespersons, subjects were asked to either return a postcard to gain more information, agree to a free trial for one week or subscribe to the service. Two conditions were used to compare solely information or imagination. Subjects were given the advantages of cable TV or they were asked to ‘take a moment and imagine how CATV will provide you with broader entertainment and informational service’. Results highlighted that it was these subjects who were more likely to try a free week of the TV (65.8%) and actually subscribe (47.4%). In comparison to the information condition where 41.5% agreed to the free trial and only 19.5% subscribed to the cable TV, as highlighted in the table below.


From the research we can assume that through imagining M&S food and the potential taste, we are more likely to buy it.
Overall this technique is powerful; it encourages customers to gain insight into the product and buy it.


Gregory, W. L., Cialdini, R. B., & Carpenter, K. M. (1982). Self-relevant scenarios as mediators of likelihood estimates and compliance: Does imagining make it so? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43, 89.

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