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

Think Safe.

I have employed the elaboration –likelihood model (Jae & Delvicchio, 2004) in the ad, where I felt that designing both heuristic and systematic paths is apt for advertising a diet choice. Changing or trying out a new diet is not one that is effortless or comfortable. Thus there is a need for sufficient information to elicit a change in attitude. On the other hand, there is a limited amount of space and time to get a message across to the viewer. To find a balance in both, I focused on the message, and the design of advertisement.

The success of a diet is usually associated with health and biological effects on our body. Content about genetically modified or non-genetically modified food taken from scientific organisations and well-known health and environment organisations. Using information from a relevant and related authority body can increase the truthiness and reliability of the statements. This will lean the viewer towards systematic processing, as the content seem to be sufficiently trusted and in-depth for them to make a choice and be informed about why they should avoid genetically modified (GM) food.

On the other hand, the simplistic and straightforward design of the advertisement serves to appeal to the heuristic route. A comparison technique by Phillips and McQurrie (2004) is adopted for this design process. This model suggests a two dimensional visual structure on ads – richness and complexity. Complexity can be reduced to the minimum when images are placed side by side, similar to the GM and organic product above. This neat comparative platform pave way for the heuristic processing route in viewers, reducing additional cognitive load in disentangling these two products. Though simplistic, the graphics maintains the richness in showing both similarities and differences. The above ad shows two pictures of what seems to be a similar corn, but actually made up of different words. The organic food is made up of familiar nutritional benefits whereas the GM food is made up of foreign words with questionable impacts. This will elicit disgust in viewers, which is found to be the most effective form of appeal (Jónsdóttir, Holm, Poltayski, & Vogeltanz-Holm, 2014). The juxtaposition structure helps saves time for the viewers as it efficiently conveys information and 

Supporting the graphics is a short copy that uses diabolical positioning. By firstly placing the fact that GM food are more widespread and more largely consumed in the population, will allow for a successive counter argument later. The argument then seems like a balanced one to a more educated century of viewers, and ultimately seem more persuasive (O'Keefe, 1999). It turns the perceived strengths of GM products around to that of possible weakness. Vice versa, it overturns the perceived weakness of organic products to that of little known strength and benefits. 

To recap, this ad is constructed with the elaboration-likelihood model in mind, which is further supported by advertising techniques of product comparison  and diabolical positioning. I hope GM food have disgusted you enough.


1. Jae, H., & Delvicchio, D. (2004). Decision making by elaboration likelihood model-analysis journal and model. The Journal of Consumer Affairs, 38 (2), 342-354

2. Phillips, B.J., & McQuarrie, E. (2004). Beyond visual metaphor: A new typology of visual rhetoric  in advertising. Marketing Theory, 4, 113-136.

3. Jónsdóttir, H.L., Holm, J.E., Poltayski, D., Vogeltanz-Holm, N. (2014). The role of fear and disgust in predicting the effectiveness of television advertisements that graphically depict the health harms of smoking. Preventing Chronic Disease, 11, 1-9.

4. O' Keefe, D.J. (1999). News for Argumentation from Persuasion Effects Research: Two Cheers for Reasoned Discourse.

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