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.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Find your greatness

The official sponsors of the 2012 Olympics were Adidas. If you asked someone at the time, they were actually 10% more likely to identify Nike as the sponsor (Bruzzone et al., 2013). This is somewhat shocking considering the Adidas logo would have been shown on every Olympian and staff member’s clothes and shoes, displayed on endless posters and so on. So how was it that Nike were able to outcompete Adidas over this period?

This was largely due to the success of Nike’s Find your Greatness campaign. This campaign used social media videos and posters to associate a feeling of self-efficacy with the brand. The poster this post will focus on is pictured: a small child standing on top of an extremely high plank, seemingly deciding whether to jump or not.

This powerful image creates an extreme situation, with the slogan: “Find your greatness,” increasing an individual’s ability to complete tasks- in this example, diving from a high distance. By focusing on normal individuals, they created a self-efficacy effect, which was reinforced with the mantra across the campaign, which created inspiration and gives power to the viewers. Linking the brand to self-efficacy is a persuasion technique which underlies mechanisms explored in classical conditioning. It is thought that linking a neutral word to a positive/negative concept (Barnabei, 1970) will lead to future positive/negative inferences of the word, respectively. The word Nike becomes associated with positive words (greatness)/message, and thus influencing attitudes towards Nike overall.

Another persuasion technique employed by the campaign is through the use of Goldenberg, Mazursky, & Solomon’s (1999) ‘templates for a quality ad.’ The aforementioned extreme situation depicted embodies the use of an Extreme Situation template. This form of template presents unrealistic expectations in the form of striking images, intended to emphasise the powerfulness of the message. Nike needed an eye-catching campaign to make up for potential losses they may have incurred from Adidas’ Olympic sponsorship. The use of Nike products enabling the ability to overcome potentially limiting situations (it is hard to imagine many that would be willing to jump from the height shown in the advert) provides consumers an insight into the effectiveness of Nike products. The use of this template, or another of the 6 creativity templates (Goldenberg et al., 1999), has been shown to be successful in comparison to other creative techniques. The extreme situation template has been found to be moderately more successful in different aspects of the advertisement (creativity, brand attitude etc.) and thus may explain the widespread manifestation in contemporary media.


Barnabei, F. (1970). Attitudes of Children Established by Classical Conditioning. Washington, D. C.: Education Resources Information Center.

Bruzzone, R., Ciobanu, V., Chummun, M., & Fabbroni, F. (2013). Business Today website.  Retrieved 5 March, 2018, from

Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D., & Solomon, S. (1999). The Fundamental Templates of Quality Ads. Marketing Science, 18, 333-351.

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