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, March 3, 2016

Too sweet on sugar?

The purpose of the above advert is to encourage viewers to cut down on the levels of sugar they intake by cutting out sugary drinks from their diets. The advertisement was designed to be a simple yet effective way of demonstrating how drinking a bottle of coca-cola is similar to consuming a bottle of obesity, heart disease or tooth decay - all potential outcomes arising from the consumption of too many sugary drinks. There were three persuasion techniques utilized within the above advertisement, which are outlined below.

Association.  Research indicates that if the judged similarity between two products are based on features that indicate product quality then the similarity-based inferences have the potential to speed up and encourage consumer learning (Warlop & Alba, 2001; Meyer, 1987). Therefore, by using the coca-cola bottles and a similar classic coca-cola font, the advertisement attempts to invoke a sense of association and familiarity within the viewer. Coca-cola was chosen due to its high popularity and connection with high quality within the market; Therefore, consumers are more likely to associate the advert with coca-cola and quickly soak up the information. The advertisement should be fairly memorable and will come to mind when the viewer sees a coca-cola bottle, leaving a lasting message with the viewer.

Fear appeal. Dillard and Anderson (2004) investigated the role of fear within persuasion, concluding that fear can raise levels of persuasion – providing that the message is not too scary. The use of emotion aims to lead the viewer to reflect upon their decisions in an attempt to avoid the threat that is causing the fear. Therefore, the advert aims to create a sense of fear within the viewer, through implying that drinking a bottle of coca cola is much like drinking a liquid that will result in you increasing your odds of obtaining heart disease, tooth decay or obesity.

Granfalloon/Social identity (Manded Altercast). The advertisement attempts to play on the viewers’ self-esteem, which has been found to aid persuasion. Pool, Wood and Leck (1998) found that people wish to be associated with the positive group and this desire can aid in influencing their decision. By stating within the advert that the viewer is ‘smarter’ than those who will continue to consume highly sugary drinks, we have put them into the positive group. However, we are also suggesting that if they do not cut down on their sugary drink consumption then they will no longer be associated with positive group of ‘smarter’ people, reducing their self-esteem. Wanting to avoid being grouped in with those who are not smart enough to heed the advice from the advertisement, the viewers will hopefully be persuaded to cut down on sugary beverages. 


Dillard, J. P., & Anderson, J. W. (2004). The role of fear in persuasion. Psychology & Marketing, 21(11), 909-926.

Meyer, R. J. (1987). The learning of multi-attribute judgment policies. Journal of Consumer Research, 14, 155–173.

Pool, G. J., Wood, W., & Leck, K. (1998). The self-esteem motive in social influence: Agreement with valued majorities and disagreement with derogated minorities. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(4), 967-975. 

Warlop, L., & Alba, J. W. (2004). Sincere flattery: Trade-dress imitation and consumer choice. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 14(1-2), 21-27. 

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