A fairness cream for men? Seems a bit unnecessary and barbaric doesn't it? Why would a product as ridiculous as this sell? But with all their reasons, this product sells. It has become quite a popular brand of cream in the domestic market of India where fairness is seen as desirable trait. The company behind this product, Emami, were smart in their advertising as they decided to use the face of a very well known Bollywood actor to endorse their product. Shah Rukh Khan is one of the most well known and liked Bollywood superstars. To have his face endorse a fairness cream is a tactful move made by their marketing team. He has a high status in the hierarchy because of his line of work and popularity. Most indians worship Shah Rukh Khan and he has a massive fan following. This works to the company's advantage as people will want to buy products their beloved superstar claims to use or support. Therefore this advertisement provides an example of the 'High status-admirer altercast' technique used to persuade customers.
A study performed by Lefkowitz, Blake and Mouton (1955) shows us how status judgment can affect conformity behavior. They had confederates dress up one of the two ways:
1) In a suited attire - to depict high status
2) In a scuffed attire - to depict lower status
These confederates crossed a pedestrian cross walk along with individuals being observed (participants). The confederates either abided by traffic rules and waited at the signal or walked over the road, violating the 'wait' signal. Experimenters recorded how many individuals would cross the road in each of the above mentioned circumstances. They found that there was a significant increase in the number of pedestrian violations by people when the status of the confederate violator went from low to high (from 4% to 14%). This can be seen in the figure below:
Thus it can be seen that individuals with a higher status have more effective power and influencing ability as compared to individuals with a lower status. These higher status individuals are frequently used to help in selling products, commodities and in campaigning. They have a better hold over people and are able to influence them with ease. This is why even seemingly ridiculous products, like the one above, manage to sell and become popular.
Lefkowitz, M., Blake, R.R., & Mouton, J.S. (1955). Status factors in pedestrian violation of traffic signals. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 51, 704-706.