Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills 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


THE MARLBORO MAN

« The Marlboro Man », one of the most successful advert ever made. Back in the 1920’s, filtered cigarettes were considered feminine, with the famous advert « Mild as May », showing beautiful women smoking with the slogan « Ivory Tips Protect the Lips ». Then in 1954, Philip Morris decided to expand their sells by targeting a new important population into their market: men. And it worked brilliantly. The original feminine campaign changed to a totally masculine one within months. Sales were originally at $5 billion, and ended up at $20 billion (a 300% increase), by 1957. Thanks to posters and billboards, (Roman, 2009).


So how did it work?

Persuasion, Influence, and identification. The cowboy, most masculine figure in America in the 50’s, was not chosen accidently. He depicts archetypal masculine traits. Marlboro’s target consumers (mid-age men) associate the cowboy with an independent, strong, rough, muscly and manly guy, who at that time almost every men wanted to be. He is living in the wild, does not seem to obey to any rules, relies on no one, invulnerable, and in a way symbolises freedom.

The technique used here is called “similarity altercasting”, (Weisntein, 1963). This technique basically projects an identity, by targeting the social role and the ego (in this case being a « real » man). Altercasting has great effects on behaviour change, by making the audience identifying to the ad and hence wanting to model the behaviour depicted in this ad. In this example, the cowboy, the « Marlboro Man » depicts all of what « masculinity » apparently is for men, and what they all wish to be. Hence the striking success, (Martin & Gnoth, 2009). It is a tactic to persuade people by forcing them into a social role (manhood), so that they then behave according to that role (smoking).
Which is impressive especially in this case considering that cigarettes are unhealthy, addictive, and smoking kills.

A study examined the effect of the communicator physical attractiveness on persuasion, (Chaiken 1979). Results indicate that attractive communicators have a significant impact on persuading people on attitude change, (table 1). They motivate people more, and make people want to identify with them. The « Marlboro Man » links perfectly as he represents the ideal man for men. He persuades them to smoke, pretending that smoking is the key for being like him, and feeling as manly as possible.

 Table1: Proportion of participants (targets) signing petition as a function of communicator attractiveness, communicator sex, and participant sex

ATTRACTIVE COMMUNICATOR
UNATTRACTIVE COMMUNICATOR
Male
Female
Male
Female
Variable
Male Target
Female Target
Male Target
Female
Target
Male Target
Female Target
Male Target
Female Target
Petition signing
.29
.53
.35
.47
.35
.38
.24
.29

The « Marlboro Man » is a perfect example of a successful persuasion and influence technique, however the campaign stopped. A few models incorporating this Marlboro Man died from tobacco related issues, and tobacco companies have seen themselves put a lot of pressure on concerning tobacco advertising by health groups (especially when the fact of smoking is glorified). This image continued until the early 2000’s in Germany, Poland, and Czech Republic but is now forbidden.


References:

Chaiken, S. (1979). Communicator physical attractiveness and persuasion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1387-1397.

Martin, B.A.S., & Gnoth, J. (2009). Is the Marlboro man the only alternative ? The role of gender identity and self-construal salience in evaluations of male modles. Marketing Letters, 20(4), 353-367.

Roman, K. (2009). The Kings of Madison Avenue. New York: St. Martins Press.

Washington, T. (2001). Smoke Screen. InTheseTimes.com.

Weinstein, E.A. & Deutschberger, P. (1963). Some Dimensions of Altercasting. Sociometry, 26(4), 454-466.

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