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 12, 2015

Accrington Stanley, who are they? Exactly.

If you lived in Great Britain during the late eighties, you will be familiar with these words. The trouble is that you probably can’t remember why. In my school cohort of playground footballers, the phrase was loved by all, thanks to its revival on Saturday morning TV favorite – Soccer AM. We didn't remember what the message was either. No football fan would deny that for entertainment value, it is a fantastic advert. But to persuade you to drink more milk? Useless. Unfortunately for the Milk Marketing Board, the young Liverpudlians are so humorous that they distract us from the message. 

What persuasive technique could be used make more young people drink milk? The advert touches upon one already with the mention of Ian Rush – Liverpool FC’s all-time leading goal scorer. The milk marketing board could have used a popular sportsperson (such as Rush) as a celebrity endorser who hails the benefits of drinking milk on athleticism.

Friedman and Friedman (1979) examined the effectiveness of a celebrity endorser on different types of products. Participants were asked for their opinion about a ‘proposed advert’ which contained a picture of U.S sitcom sweetheart Mary Tyler Moore. The advert contained one of three products: a vacuum cleaner, a box of cookies or costume jewelry; each with a ‘quote’ from Moore endorsing the product. Participants completed a questionnaire in which they rated the advert on twenty adjectives, such as “honest”, “persuasive”, “powerful” and “effective”. A general trend of results was notable across adjectives, reported by the authors in figure 1.

Participants rated the celebrity endorsed advertisement most highly when the product was costume jewelry. Participants made the association between Mary Tyler Moore as the established actress and utilised her endorsement most when the product was relevant to her profession – actress costume. The milk marketing board could have used a sportsperson to endorse the benefits of drinking milk. The evidence suggests that we would be persuaded by an advert when it contains a celebrity who can be associated with the content.

More recently the California Milk Processor Board have used this exact technique in their “Got Milk?” campaign. A milk-mustached David Beckham is used as the credible celebrity along with a tagline “Goal by Beckham, Body by Milk”. Persuasion is achieved as we make the association between drinking milk and having a sporting physique like Becks (see below).

Friedman, H. H., & Friedman, L. (1979). Endorser effectiveness by product type. Journal of advertising research, 19, 63-71.

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