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, September 22, 2016

"Smell Like a Man, Man"

The more unique, bold and attention-grabbing an advertisement seems, the more standardized and clichéd it probably actually is. Or at least that that is what Goldenburg, Mazursky and Solomon (1999) believed. They identified 6 basic templates that 89% of 200 award-winning advertisements seemed to fall into. These templates included: Pictoral Analogy, Extreme Situation, Consequences, Competition, Interactive Experiment, Dimensionality Alteration. The above Old Spice ad created a lot of stir amongst viewers, and gained great popularity, reaching over 50 million views on YouTube. One explanation for its effectiveness may be due to its use of the consequences template, specifically the extreme consequences version

In the extreme consequences version, a set of situations is linked to a set of consequences via a linking operator. A consequence is a phenomenon, flow of events in the situation. "The situation in our example is a action, or behavior which results from the product attribute appearing in the message" (Goldenburg, Mazursky & Solomon, 1999, pp. 342). The consequences themselves need not be extreme, for example the advertisement repeatedly mentions that Old Spice will make "your man" smell more like a man (and less like a lady), an attainable consequence. In fact, this consequence needs to be both realistic and familiar to the audience. It is the linking operator which takes a select potential consequence and takes it to the extreme. This is demonstrated in Table 1 below.

In this situation, smelling more like a man is a feasible goal. The advertisement takes this a step further by implying that once this goal is attained anything is possible - "your man" may become attractive like the Old Spice man who has tickets "for that thing you like", diamonds and rides a horse. This linking operator is clearly quite extreme and absurd, and probably the very reason this ad has been so effective.

Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D., & Solomon, S. (1999). Creative sparks. Science285, 1495-1496.

Shareen Rikhraj

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