This is an advertisement by Mercedes Benz promoting their E-Class cars. There is an increase number of deaths on roads and it has become a public concern, inattentiveness is one of the main reasons resulting in these consequences. In this advertisement, a situation is depicted whereby the ‘death god’ is sitting in the passenger seat while the driver is driving and looking at the ‘death god’ surprisingly but not paying attention to the road. The driver does not realise there is a roadwork ahead until the ‘death god’ says ‘Sorry’ then the driver immediately slams the brake so as to avoid a road traffic accident. The message Mercedes wants to imply is that safety is the most important feature of a car and their E-class has achieved this high level of safety requirement.
This advertisement employs emotional tactic such as emotional see-saw (i.e. fear-then-relief). When people experience an emotion that is then removed they will then be more likely to comply with a request. Dolinski and Nawrat (1998) carried out five experiments to test the effectiveness of the ‘fear-then-relief’ technique for producing compliance. One of the experiments was that in the streets of Opole during the rush hour, participants were selected from those who crossed the road in the wrong place (Group 1 and Group 2) and those who walked along the sidewalk (Group 3). While crossing the road, one participant from Group 1 heard a whistle from a ‘policemen’ (the experimenter), leading them to be quite nervous and searching for the policemen for a while. After approximately 20 seconds later, another female experimenter asked the participant to fill in a questionnaire which would take around 10 minutes. Similar requests were made to Group 2 and Group 3 participants too, and the results are shown below:
The results suggest that there is a greater number of participants in the whistle group complied with the request to complete the questionnaire. Therefore it supports the idea that subjects who experience an emotion (in this case nervousness) then it is withdrawn will be more likely to comply with a request.
In the case of the Mercedes ad, the audience might think they would experience a car smash yet, it turned out to be a false alarm Although after watching this advertisement the audience may not necessarily buy the brand new E-class cars still, they will be left with a vivid impression of ‘this car can perform well on safety’. I think this advertisement successful shaped the image of Mercedes Benz- reliable, safety, innovation and perfection.
Dolinski, D., & Nawrat, R. (1998). "Fear-then-relief" procedure for producing compliance: Beware when the danger is over. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 34, 27-50.