When I first saw this poster, I was shocked at the direct and sad message. Essentially, the poster did its job… it left me wanting to save the giant Pandas! However, after thinking about it a bit more, it was quite nice to see some powerful persuasive techniques used for a good cause, rather than the advertisements you see everywhere trying to make big companies more money.
For instance, one common technique used by this poster is The Scarcity Principle (Cialdini, 2007). That is, the poster directly addresses the fact that ‘today’ there are only so many Pandas left. But what about tomorrow? And what about the day after? It makes you feel as if you must act now to save the small number of Pandas. It may actually be the case that there has been 1,600 Pandas for a while, and this number may stay relatively stable. However, the poster is persuading you that there is limited time and availability, in order to make you more likely to not only donate, but donate straight away (Cialdini & Goldstein, 2002).
In addition, the poster effectively uses emotion to persuade you to donate. While it is sad that there are a small number of Giant Pandas left in the world, this message is augmented by the clever visuals. For instance, the eyes of the Panda look as if they are slightly drooping, and it is looking directly at you, almost as if it is about to cry. Importantly, by invoking emotion in you, the poster is more likely to be remembered and acted upon (Ray & Batra, 1983); as people’s judgements are unconsciously influenced by how they feel emotionally (Bower & Cohen, 1982).
Cialdini, R. B. (2007). Influence: The psychology of persuasion. New York: Collins.
Bower, G.H. and Cohen, P.R. (1982), "Emotional Influences in-Memory and Thinking" in M.S. Clark and S.T. Fiske, (Eds.), Affect and Cognition. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Ray, M. L., & Batra, R. (1983). Emotion and persuasion in advertising: What we do and don't know about affect. ACR North American Advances.
Cialdini, R. B., & Goldstein, N. J. (2002). The science and practice of persuasion. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, 43(2), 40-50.