First, the technique of social consensus was adopted. When the more it appears that people are doing something, the more likely others will follow. Milgram, Bickman and Berkowitz’s (1969) study showed that people observed others’ response and readily conformed to their behaviour. The advert quoted that a majority of people in the UK (74%) drink coffee (“Coffee Facts”, n.d.), knowing others’ choices will form a social agreement on coffee-drinking behaviour.
Another persuasion technique that used in this advert was high status-admirer altercast. The celebrities, famous people, and movie stars influence others as people admire and would like to win their approval by following what they do. Lefkowitz et al. (1955) found that the likelihood of people jaywalking increased when they observed people dressed in a suit than that of dressed in a denim doing so. Dressing in a suit indicated high status, and thus was more influential to people’s behaviour. In this advert, ‘Sherlock does’ was used to persuade coffee-drinking behaviour. Sherlock Holmes was a well-known British fictional character. He was a consulting detective, who was also good at logical reasoning and forensic science. An internet meme, fan-made strip of conservation from a radio situation comedy was produced from a scene in the second episode "The hounds of Baskerville" of Sherlock (Season 2, TV series co-produced by BBC and WGBH) as shown below (“Nice hot cup of coffee”, n.d.). Originally Sherlock was just talking about coffee, but the meme boosted the popularity of the scene and created the idea that Sherlock drinks coffee. Therefore, ‘Sherlock does’ in the advert persuaded people to drink coffee.
|"Nice Hot Cup of Coffee" meme|
The technique of association is persuasive by linking an idea to a positive or negative concept. It can transfer a meaning from the subsequent concept to the original idea (Staats & Staats, 1958). Developing from the phrase ‘Sherlock does’, Sherlock gives the impression of being intelligent, knowledgeable and logical. There was a possibility of associating coffee-drinking behaviour and these positive characteristics that Sherlock possess. As a result, the idea of ‘smart’ was transferred to the consequences of drinking coffee.
Similarity increases with persuasion and influence. The idea of Similarity Altercast was illustrated in Berscheid’s (1966) study. The advert was an example using similarity altercast as ‘Brits do drink coffee’ highlighted that people in the UK, from a similar culture behave similarly, as majority of them drink coffee. Recognising people with a similar background could increase the compliance of coffee-drinking behaviour.
The advert made use of repetition of a message. Zajonc (1968) found that mere exposure increased favourability, believability and acceptance of something. The phrases ‘Drink coffee’, ‘Drink some coffee’, and ‘nice hot cup of coffee’ in the advert were repetitive. As such effect of persuasion disappears when individuals attend to the message carefully, the wordings used were slightly varied (for example, by adding ‘some’ between ‘drink coffee’) so as to maintain the effect of repeating a message (Schumann, Petty & Clemons, 1990).
Researchers found that using a credible source was more effective in persuading (Hovland & Weiss, 1951). In this advert, a peer-reviewed medical journal was used to provide statistical information of how coffee consumption reduced risks of diseases. The phrase ‘researchers said so’ with arrows pointing towards the source and statistical figures raised readers’ awareness to their trustworthiness. It increased the reliability of the message that the advert tried to convey.
Berscheid, E. (1966). Opinion change and communicator-communicatee similarity and dissimilarity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4(6), 670.
Cano-Marquina, A., Tarín, J. J., & Cano, A. (2013). The impact of coffee on health. Maturitas, 75(1), 7-21.
Coffee Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://www.britishcoffeeassociation.org/about_coffee/coffee_facts/
Hovland, C. I., & Weiss, W. (1951). The influence of source credibility on communication effectiveness. Public opinion quarterly, 15(4), 635-650.
Lefkowitz, M., Blake, R. R., & Mouton, J. S. (1955). Status factors in pedestrian violation of traffic signals. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 51(3), 704.
Milgram, S., Bickman, L., & Berkowitz, L. (1969). Note on the drawing power of crowds of different size. Journal of personality and social psychology, 13(2), 79.
Nice hot cup of coffee. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://9gag.com/gag/3382370/nice-hot-cup-of-coffee
Schumann, D. W., Petty, R. E., & Clemons, D. S. (1990). Predicting the effectiveness of different strategies of advertising variation: A test of the repetition-variation hypotheses. Journal of Consumer Research, 192-202.
Staats, A. W., & Staats, C. K. (1958). Attitudes established by classical conditioning. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 57(1), 37.
Zajonc, R. B. (1968). Attitudinal effects of mere exposure. Journal of personality and social psychology, 9(2p2), 1.