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.

Friday, February 27, 2015

If you aren't totally clean you are filthy

In this rather disturbing advertisement for Just hand soap, we see a mother with cockroach covered hands reaching down to pick up her crying child. The slogan states that ‘if you aren't totally clean you are filthy’ implying that you’re filthy if you do not use Just hand soap. The mother appears to have failed to use the product and is therefore so filthy that she has attracted cockroaches.

This is an example of the extreme consequences template proposed by Goldenberg, Mazursky and Solomon (1999).  Advertisements using the consequences template indicate the implications of either executing or failing to execute the advice given in an advertisement. The extreme consequences template in particular, presents an extreme consequence of an emphasized product attribute. The viewers of the advertisement realise the absurdity of the consequence and how unrealistic such a situation is. This knowledge does not matter as the absurdity of the consequence is an indication of the quality of the product.

So the advertisement above clearly shows the consequences of not using Just hand soap; cockroaches. We all know that this is completely unrealistic; failing to clean your hands with this particular soap cannot result  in the attraction of cockroaches, but it is the extremity of this consequence that is so attractive. Cockroaches have very negative connotations attached to them, such as filth and decay. No one wants to be associated with terms like these and since the ad says ‘if you aren't totally clean you are filthy' then we must use Just hand soap to avoid this negative consequence. The extremity of the consequence highlights how good of a product Just hand soap must be. Also the use of a mother and baby is particularly gripping. Babies make people’s hearts instantly melt and to think that any harm would come to a child is something many people find difficult to bear. We would want to protect the vulnerable and protect ourselves from germs, so if avoiding cockroaches means using Just hand soap, then that’s what we've got to do.

Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D., & Solomon, S. (1999). The fundamental template of quality ads. Marketing Science, 18(3), 333-351.

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