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 13, 2015

Run until you kill your dog!

 “Run until you kill you dog!” Hmm… Running shoe brand Peal Izumi published this campaign in September 2013, to advertise their new trainers. “If you wear Pear Izumi trainers you will be able to run faster and longer than you ever have before, even your dog won’t be able to keep up with you and might even die!” I don’t know about you, but in my opinion this so called shocking message doesn’t necessarily persuade you to buy these trainers, for numerous reasons. Firstly, I don’t particularly want to kill my dog, ‘a mans best friend’! Secondly, the ad just makes people feel really sorry and sad for the dying dog rather than conveying the actual message about the trainers! For these reasons this advertisement completely fails – even Pearl Izumi agreed and apologized for overstepping the bounds of good taste and made a $10,000 donation to Boulder Valley Humane Society.

Perhaps, Pear Izumi would have produced a much more successful, less distasteful and influential advert by employing pictorial analogy imagery, specifically the replacement version. The advert should employ this technique, displaying the dog trying to slow down the owner, rather than the extreme analogy, of the dog dying. In this case, the advert still employs the same message – the trainers are so amazing that even the dog can’t run that fast, so has to slow down the owner – but in a much less offensive and persuasive way.

Goldenberg, Mazursky & Solomon (1999) confirm the replacement version of pictorial analogy leads to more favourable adjustment than the extreme analogy.  Researchers contacted experts to choose the top 200 advertisements as a pool of highly evaluated adverts. The extreme situation template used examples such as a commercial for locks showing an old lady scaring away burglars by barking at them. This communicates the message that a safe and peaceful evening could be achieved by purchasing a lock or by barking. The replacement version showed the old lady reading a book threatened by the burglar, which provokes the need for safety, to buy an alarm to enhance protection. The templates were then distributed among trained judges who had at least 10 years of advertising experience. The judges were asked to correctly identify the template and discuss inter-judge agreement.

 Table 1: Results for replacement and extreme analogy for highly evaluated ads 

  The results indicate than pictorial analogy accounted for the majority of correctly matched templates (38%), which suggests pictorial analogy is a suitable technique for advertising. Therefore, Pearl Izumi had the right idea choosing pictorial analogy to advertise their product. However, table 1 suggests 44 out of 200 replacement version advertisements were identified compared to only 24 out of 200 for extreme analogy. Therefore, advertisements do not necessarily need to be extremely shocking to have a massive effect; advertisements need to convey a clever message. The researchers suggest pictorial analogy is more successful when humour is the envisioned strategy within the replacement version, such as the dog holding the owner back because he cant keep up, rather than a picture of a dead dog!

To conclude, advertisements that utilise pictorial analogies are much more likely to be recognised and remembered. It is not necessary for advertisers, to use a dead dog to promote there product, it’s more beneficial to pick a clear message and replace imagery to reflect the message, such as the dog slowing the owner down because the animal can’t run as fast as the owner with Pearl Izumi trainers. Therefore, adverts fail, if they use dead dogs to promote their message!


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

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