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.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

The above image is an advertisement for a mouthwash product. The preacher in the picture has failed to use the advertised product which results in negative consequences; the congregation are sitting as far away as possible from him because of his bad breath. This advertisement is an example of the consequences template.

Goldenburg, Mazursky, and Solomon (1999) identified six fundamental templates for quality advertisements. One of the templates identified was the consequences template. The aim of this advertising technique is to indicate the implications of either executing or failing to execute the recommendation advocated in the ad. There are two types of consequences templates; the extreme consequences version and the inverted consequences version. The above is an example of the inverted consequences template. This is because it warns against the implications of not executing the recommendation of the ad (e.g. the ad depicts a preacher in his every day environment, unable to address to the congregation because of his bad breath, from failing to use the mouthwash).

The consequences template often contains two specific elements. Firstly, the consequences are based on a true fact which is taken to the extreme. Secondly, the irrationality and extreme unrealism of the consequences are obvious and recognizable by the viewer. Both these conditions are fulfilled in the featured ad. It is possible that not using the mouthwash could lead to bad breath in which others would want to avoid, but it is highly unlikely that the effort  they would go to would be this extreme (sitting at the back of the church). This is considered an effective advertisement technique as it links the negative consequences with not using a product. It therefore creates a necessity for the product, to either obtain or avoid the consequences.


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

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