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.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The commercial that never happened - but succeeded anyway

Superbowl - the biggest marketing event in the US. A huge beer drinking event. And the best possible opportunity to create a catchy advertisement and attract millions of new customers.

There was only one minor setback destroying Newcastle Brown Ale's hopes to feature alongside other titans on the big game, and that was the lack of budget or legal rights to actually do it.

This is where the best part comes in. Instead of just giving up, the company has decided to create a set of videos showing 'how they would've done it', had they done it. Starting with teasers of trailers combined with complete Behind the Scenes video clips with stars who ''would've'' featured in their ads, they have created a website called If we made it, posted their videos and celebrity 'endorsements' on YouTube and all in all created a huge sensation.

''The only thing I haven't done is a nude scene and get paid a s***load of money to be in a commercial... for a beer I don't even drink. So, this gave me the opportunity to basically do both of these things,'' states Anna with a completely serious face in one of their humorous Behind the Scenes videos; offering something of a interesting 'anti-endorsement'.

This alongside another video anti-endorsement and teaser clips, has gathered 10 million views in 2 weeks, generated 600 organic media placements resulting in over 1 billion total media impressions. The Forbes have commented saying it is ''the best commercial on the Super Bowl, and it's not even on the Super Bowl'', and it was trending on Facebook for two days. ahead of the game itself. In conclusion, simply by coming up with a brilliant idea, a much smaller company in terms of size and scale compared to those that ran commercials during Super Bowl, has managed to put the spotlight on themselves.

Now that we've covered that, let's look at the actual persuasion technique Newcastle is using to get people to buy their beer. Looking at their other video commercials, starring Elizabeth Hurley (1, 2) or Aubrey Plaza, we can see that Newcastle's approach of 'anti-endorsements' which still star celebrities just like other brands' endorsing videos would, but instead of praise they are filled with sarcasm or straight up honest opinions, is consistent and goes well with the brand's punch line ''No Bollocks''.

Regardless of the twist in the script that deviates from the traditional endorsement template used in most commercials, Newcastle still relies on one of the most common methods of persuasion, the High Status- Admirer Altercast. Both Kendrick and Hurley as well as Plaza are famous people occupying a prestigious position in the social hierarchy. The public naturally wants to be more like them and they are therefore inclined to listen to the celebs' advice.

Friedman, Termini and Washington have conducted a study to analyse whether an advertisement featuring an endorsement is more effective than a simple one without an endorsement; and also which of the four major types of endorsers is most effective. The four main types being analysed in this study are the celebrity, the typical consumer, the professional expert and the company president.

The researchers have presented four groups of students with identical advertisements for sangria wine, each one endorsed by a different type of endorser. A fifth group of student was presented with a no-endorser, but otherwise identical advertisement. The subjects were to rate the wine on scales of expected selling price, anticipated taste and intent to purchase, as well as the overall believability of the whole advertisement.

The results of the study have shown that it is worthwhile for an advertiser to use an endorser for his product. Not only that, but as we can see from the table below, the actor endorser worked especially well on the scales of probable taste and overall believability. Based on what we have learned so far about Newcastle and their brand strategy, it seems that this choice of an endorser was the right one especially if their goal was to stand out for being real and believable.


Friedman, H., Termini, S. & Washington, R., (1976). ''The Effectiveness of Advertisements Utilizing Four Types of Endorsers''. Journal of Advertising. Vol. 5, No. 3, pp. 22-24.

New Castle Brown Ale Case study

Diana Drgonova

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