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.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Nike’s perfect marketing equation: Attractive Celebrity + Humour = Sales

When this Nike advert came out I remember thinking it was one of the best adverts I had ever seen. It was funny, it was different and it had Cristiano Ronaldo in it – what a brilliant advert it was. But what’s so interesting about this advert is how memorable it is. It has over 24 million views on YouTube and, as you can tell by the title the uploader wrote, some people really think it’s one of the best adverts ever.

But why?

It’s no secret that celebrity endorsement is extremely common these days. In fact, Malik & Guptha (2014) show that celebrity endorsement is one of the most valuable factors in persuading consumers to purchase a product.

Clearly celebrity endorsement is extremely effective and there are many reasons for this. We like celebrities, because they’re ‘cool’ right? They’ve got the most desirable lives and we want to be successful, like them. Celebrities are attractive and everyone wants to know about what they get up to, they have the best cars and the best homes, so it only makes sense that when they are using a product or associated with a brand that we want to try that brand out too – maybe we will be more like them if we do?

However, Nike went the extra mile, they didn’t just get a celebrity, they got a bunch of some of the most famous footballers in the world, the most attractive ones, and combined our liking for them with humour – ensuring we are very satisfied. You see, not only does celebrity endorsement sell, but so do attractiveness and humour.

A study by Dion, Berscheid, and Walster (1972) asked participants to look at pictures of men and women who were perceived to be either unattractive, average looking or attractive and rate their personality. They found that attractive people were perceived to have more socially desirable personality traits than average looking or unattractive people – suggesting we really are influenced by good looking people. 

So if attractiveness is associated with more positive traits, having an attractive celebrity associated with your brand gives you a good chance at making people want to be associated with your brand too.

But why stop there? Just to top it all off, Nike added humour.
Bohner, Crow, Erb and Schwartz (1992) suggested that happier people pay less attention to detail in an advert and are more susceptible to the peripheral route of persuasion, including weaker cues like the attractiveness of the source.

So there you have it, Nike came up with the perfect advert. It’s one that people enjoy watching because it’s funny. It makes them listen to the attractive people on screen more because it is funny, oh and the attractive people are some of the most famous people in football – just to make sure we know that if we buy Nike clothing then we will be more like them.


Bohner, G., Crow, K., Erb, H., & Schwarz, N. (1992). Affect and persuasion: Mood effects on the processing of message content and context cues and on subsequent behaviour. European Journal of Social Psychology, 22(6), 511-530. 

Dion, K., Berscheid, E., & Walster, E. (1972). What is beautiful is good. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 24(3), 285-290. 

Malik, G., & Guptha, A. (2014). Impact of celebrity endorsements and brand mascots on consumer buying behavior. Journal of Global Marketing, 27(2), 128-143. 

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