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 26, 2015

Let's Kill Spiderman!

The above image is an advertisement for Baygon, an insecticide. Apparently, this product is so effective that it doesn’t just kill insects, it can kill human-insect superheroes! Although this might be bad news for Spiderman, and his bug-themed friends, it’s certainly good news for us insectophobes.

This advertisement is an example of the consequences template, as identified by Goldenberg, Mazursky, and Solomon (1999). Specifically, it’s an example of the extreme consequences version (as opposed to the inverted consequences version), whereby the real attribute of the product is demonstrated through an extreme outcome. This outcome may be completely unrealistic, and the viewers of the ad are aware of this, but this isn’t necessary. The idea is to make accessible the key feature of the product. Figure 1, below, demonstrates the template used here.

In this example, it is clearly unrealistic that the insecticide could kill a fictional superhero. However, Spiderman is a relatively well-known figure, and helps to build the association between the product and its key attribute – killing insects. So, if you want to ensure a spider-free home, it’s best to buy the product that goes one step further and ensures a Spiderman-free home.


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

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