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.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

How one advert convinced me to spend nearly £300

Back in September of 2015, I bought tickets to 3 different matches to watch Ireland play in the 2015 Rugby World Cup that just happened to be held in the UK, and I have one advert to blame for making me spend £300 on them. 

In the above advert, the idea that the event will be a spectacle to behold is highlighted constantly by Charles Dance (i.e. Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones), who gives an arousing speech to all players, staff and fans who will be attending the event. One moment in this speech stood out for me,“I’m not going to stand in a mirror years from now and say ‘I didn’t turn up’ ”. It suggests that the event will be a spectacle that you’ll hate if you miss, that it will form great memories leaving you wondering “why didn’t I go?” This plays on the fact that it’s not a tournament like the premier league which is annual. This is a rare opportunity to attend something that you may never be able to attend again! Cialdini (1993) refers to this as scarcity and that as the rarity of an item, in this case, a world cup, increases so does the desire to attend the event. The advert tell me it’s once a year, all it is merely doing is bringing my attention to the fact it’s a one time opportunity. 

The advert also creates another aspect that Cialdini (1993) calls social proof by showing the vast amount of people going. Nearly every shot features over 5-6 piled into a small changing room, with big names and faces in rugby, people from the host cities, Charles Dance himself, are all shown in the advert. It shows and suggests that if all these people are going then it has to be good. 

Looking back, the tournament was widely successful, overall selling 2.47 million tickets (RWC 2015, 2015), and even before the event started, needing an extra 100,000 tickets added to keep up with demand (RWC 2015, 2015). It is also regarded as one of the most expensive tournaments to date, which the average ticket price higher than the London 2012 Olympics (Rumsby, 2015) But this begs the question as to why I spent a ludicrous amount of money on the tickets. This in itself can be explained by the heuristic that “expensive = good” as mentioned by Cialdini (1993). The high ticket prices could be explained as a trigger feature to customers, they (and I) assumed that because the ticket were priced at such a high rate, that the money must be worth it because it’ll be ridiculously good! 

I may have been tricked into buying tickets (putting me £300 out of pocket) for 3 different matches to watch Ireland play, but it was amazing, and I’m not left wondering “what if I had gone?”


Cialdini, R. B. (1993). Influence: The psychology of persuasian. New York: Morrow

Ben Rumsby (2015). Rugby World Cup 2015: England Rugby confirms record ticket sales for tournament. Retrieved 1 December, 2016 from The Telegraph:

RWC 2015. (2015). RWC 2015 declared biggest and best tournament to date Retrieved 1 December, 2016 from Rugby World Cup:

RWC 2015. (2015). England set to become biggest Rugby World Cup to date. Retrieved 1 December, 2016 from Rugby World Cup:

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