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.

Monday, December 5, 2016

You’re so MoneySupermarket

‘Dave saved £200 on his car insurance and now he feels epic’, ‘Dave, you’re so Moneysupermarket’. We all know it feels great when we save money and Moneysupermarket have summed up just how great this feeling is in their ads (well with a little exaggeration). These have been some of my favourite ads from the first Dave, feeling epic and chilling with some gorillas to the newest Dave, in his heels and hot pants with his strutting squad.
So why are these adverts so good in terms of psychological theory and not just because there is an epic dance off?


Humour in advertising attracts people’s attention and therefore distracts a person leading to less evaluation and criticism (Sternthal & Craig, 1973). This leads to an increase in persuasion. Humour uses the peripheral route to persuasion (less effortful and less attention needed) which is why it can be very persuasive.
Humour also relates to the availability bias. This is where people rely on immediate and recent examples they can recall easily to help them make a decision (Kahneman, 2011). Humour makes an advert more memorable. How can we forget a pole dancing builder (a previous Moneysupermarket advert)? When making a decision (like what comparison website to use) a funny memorable advert that comes to mind easily, like this dance off, will influence the decision that we make and we are more likely to choose to use this memorable company.  
Research has found also that humour enhances liking, which therefore facilitates persuasion Weinberger & Gulas (1992). We tend to buy/use what we like or are familiar with. This is the familiarity heuristic which stems from the availability bias. If we like an advert, we will likely use the product or service in that advert.

Dave and Colin, your average guys

The Moneysupermarket ad uses a wide range of people, different age, race and profession, who are just your everyday normal people (maybe minus that incredible bum). This is a great use of social modelling. We see these people that we can relate to who are just like we us, feeling great about saving money on insurance so we can also feel that great by doing what they did. This enhances how persuasive the advert is as we are more likely to base our actions and opinions off those who are similar to us (Festinger, 1954)

Mere exposure

Research has found that the more familiar we are with something the more we like it Zajonc (1968). The graph (Figure 5 from Zajonc, 1968) shows that when a face is presented to participants more times it is rated as being more favourable than when it is presented to them less times. This is very similar to the familiarity bias mentioned earlier. This advert is shown a lot on TV and has over 1 million views on YouTube. Due to its humorous nature has also been adapted for online videos. One specific example is ‘you’re so Tory Supermarket, where David Cameron’s face is used on ‘Dave’ (image below). This, though not intentionally by Moneysupermarket, helps increase exposure for the advert and therefore increasing its influence on people’s decisions.


Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparisons processes. Human Relations, 7, 117-140.
Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Sternthal, B., & Craig, C. S. (1973). Humor in advertising. The Journal of Marketing, 12-18.
Weinberger, M. G., & Gulas, C.S. (1992). The impact of humour in advertising: a review, Journal of Advertising, 21, 35-59.

Zajonc, R. B. (1968). Attitudinal effects of mere exposure. Journal of personality and social psychology, 9, 1.

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