Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

'Staying awake will never be this painful anymore.'

It has been identified by many psychologists that there exists common patterns of creativity behind advertisements. Goldenberg, Mazursky and Solomon (1999) developed a template approach which aimed at providing a categorisation of patterns and a comprehensive model which looked at identifying reactions to advert stimuli. They classified six key templates including sixteen more specific versions and, from an analysis of a large number of high quality adverts, found that the templates could account for 89% of the adverts. Interestingly in further studies, a majority of non-award winning and low quality adverts were found to lack creativity templates suggesting the proposed templates are really a key factor in creating a successful and persuasive advert.

That being said I’d like to look at a successful advert which uses the Extreme Situation template, and more specifically the ‘Absurd Alternative Version’. The idea behind this template is to represent a humorous suggestion to the audience which is an alternative option for achieving the same result. However, of course the conclusion is drawn that the alternative option is absurd. As is demonstrated in the Starbucks advert at the top of the page, the result of the product (the coffee) is staying awake and the absurd alternative is taping open your eyes in order not to fall asleep! Goldenberg et al. also note that the absurd alternative is presented in a seemingly serious manner and this is demonstrated in the advert’s statement ‘staying awake will never be this painful anymore’. The declaration feigns the idea that this is an actually practiced alternative, but of course the unrealism of the option is obvious to the consumer. Attempting to make the alternative more realistic would significantly weaken the impact of the advert.

The scheme can be represented diagrammatically as shown below:

This particular advert is a little difficult to express in this particular diagram because it does not particularly present a situation as such, other than having to tape one’s eyes open! But I have attempted to tailor the information to the scheme given in the paper where possible. It is also noted that in using this template there typically occurs an unexpected shift in the consumer’s frame of mind into an imaginary status but unlikely to a competitive brand. This would be important for this advert as there are so many brands of coffee that the advert needs to incline the customer to purchase Starbucks coffee. The use of the template is successful and in theory should be a persuasive way of urging customers to buy the product the next time they’re feeling drowsy, it’s made me want a Starbucks anyway…

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

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