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.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Find YOUR Magic

When it comes to creating TV adverts for items such as fragrances and body washes, there is a huge limitation; smells cannot be transmitted through the television (unless, of course, you’re watching BBC on the 1st of April, 1965). This means that the people who get paid to sell us Lynx need to use other methods to persuade our Aunts and Uncles to buy us those ever-coveted gift sets for our birthdays and Christmas. A tough task, yes, but take a look at their early 2016 campaign for an example of marketing wizardry:


Clearly, this advert is different from their normal approach. Instead of showing men with the bodies of Greek Gods successfully pulling women who look fresh out of Baywatch, the focus is on the average man; you, me, Dave down the pub. However, not only are these men fairly ‘average’, but the choice of models is incredibly diverse. Multiple races, multiple facets of the LGBT community, disabled men. All types are included in this advert; no one is left out and this product is for everyone. This is a clever use of social modelling and similarity altercasting, as not only do we see this diverse set of models enjoying using the products, but they appear to be just like you, no matter who you are, which helps to increase the effectiveness of the message, as we are more likely to base our opinions off of those who are similar to us (Festinger, 1954).
Not only does this advert use a variety of ‘average’ men, it also flatters people, suggesting that although we may be ‘average’, we all have the one feature that makes us stand out, for example, intelligence, or the ability to dance on a treadmill. This is reflected in the title of the advert, ‘Find your magic, with the use of ‘your’ suggests that we all have it within us. There is a large body of research suggesting that we like those who flatters us (Gordon, 1996), and that flattery greatly increases the chance of compliance (Pratkanis & Abbott, 1994), suggesting that this advert is on to a winner.
Although this inclusivity tactic is a departure from their previous methods, the team at Lynx have remained true to their roots and still relied on their old favourite tactic; sex. According to Calvin Klein, the man behind everyone’s favourite briefs, ‘sex sell well, it wears well, it smells good, and it sleeps soundly’. And don’t just take Calvin’s word for it – there is science to back this up! According to Barrett (2010), the use of sex in advertising is known as supernormal stimuli, as it appeals to and gratifies our primal urges. And according to Reichert et al (2012), this method particularly appeals to young men.
By using some clever marketing techniques, lynx have been able to create this advert that is able to appeal to use through system 1 thinking (Kahneman, 2011), that is, persuading us to make the decision instinctively, not based on any real information. It’s clearly working as well; I wouldn’t be surprised if pretty much every male in the 18-24 demographic is going to be unwrapping a Lynx gift set this Christmas. It’s safe to say that Lynx have found their magic….


Barrett, D. (2010). Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose. New York: W.W. Norton & Company

Farfan, B. (2016, Jun 04). Calvin Klein Quotable Quotes About Marketing Sexuality, Sexy Brands. Retrieved from

Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparisons processes. Human Relations, 7, 117-140.

Gordon, R. A. (1996). Impact of ingratiation on judgements and evaluations: A meta-analytic      investigation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 54-70.

Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

[Lynx]. (2016, Jan 27). Lynx - Find Your Magic. [Video File]. Retrieved from

Pratkanis, A. R., & Abbott, C. J. (2004). Flattery and compliance with a direct request towards a theory of toady influence. Unpublished manuscript, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Reichert, T., Childers, C. C., & Reid, L. N. (2012). How Sex in Advertising Varies by Product Category: An Analysis of Three Decades of Visual Sexual Imagery in Magazine Advertising. Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising, 33, 1–19.

"Smellovision". (n.d.). Retrieved from

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