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.

Friday, March 16, 2018

'The Long Wait'

Everyone remembers the John Lewis Christmas adverts. Every year people ask, ‘have you seen the John Lewis advert yet?’ They are arguably some of the most effective Christmas adverts there have ever been. Their advert from 2011, ‘The Long Wait’ has been their most effective one so far. A little boy is seen counting down the days until Christmas, unable to eat or sleep, longing for the big day to arrive. As a viewer, you assume that he’s waiting to receive his presents. However, when Christmas day arrives, the little boy runs straight past his presents and into his parents’ room, to give them a present that he’s bought for them. This advert played on everyone’s heartstrings, evoking feelings of joy all around the country. It certainly worked well, because 5 weeks before Christmas, their sales were at a high of £596 million, which was 9% more than the previous year (Powell, 2013).

Studies have found that the John Lewis Christmas adverts are actually as effective in evoking emotion as they seem. In a study by Cartwright, McCormick and Warnaby (2016), they evaluated consumers’ emotional responses to Christmas TV adverts. In their study, they held focus groups and conducted questionnaires comparing emotional responses to four retail companies’ adverts. They found that the John Lewis Christmas advert from 2011 was ‘almost a reward for customers’ and participants said they would be ‘encouraged to visit the store’. The John Lewis advert was the most memorable out of the four, due to its content.

Consequences template

The consequences template shows the implications of doing or failing to do what the advert recommends. In this case, the advert shows what happens if you do what they suggest. In the John Lewis advert, the little boy buys a present and gives it to his parents which makes him and his parents happy. This simple action is what John Lewis are recommending you do, and are saying you will be happy if you buy presents from their shop. Goldenberg, Mazursky and Solomon (1999) looked at award winning adverts and to see why they were so effective and found that they all fitted one of the six creativity templates, including the consequences template. In their experiment, they then made three groups create adverts: one group had a choice of what to do, one group used a free association technique to think of ideas, and one group were told about the six templates. They found that viewers remembered and liked the adverts that were made with the six creativity templates more than the others.

Elaboration Likelihood Model (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986)

The advert uses the peripheral route to persuasion because when the audience are watching TV adverts, it is likely they are not paying a great deal of attention to what they are watching, especially when the adverts are on. The advert does not try to tell you why they think John Lewis are the best brand, or that you should buy all your Christmas present from them. As the audience are not paying a great deal of attention, they do not have the cognitive ability to fully weigh up the pros and cons of buying a product from John Lewis. In the peripheral route, people are more likely to be influenced by their general impression of the advert, which in this case is positive, so are likely to feel positively about John Lewis.

Personal relevance can affect how motivated people are because if something is more relevant to you, then you are more likely to be influenced. For instance, in a study by Kruglanski and Van Lange (2012) students were told about an exam policy that would be implemented either one or ten years later.  Students who were going to be affected by this policy cared more and took more of an interest in it. Perhaps as Christmas is relevant to lots of people, people will listen more to the advert.

Yale Approach (Hovland, 1953)

The Yale Approach could be used to explain why the 2011 John Lewis Christmas advert was so effective.
·      The Source
In the advert, the family are a ‘standard’ family with a ‘normal’ life, which a lot of people will relate to, meaning they are more likely to be influenced by them. The boy represents the idea of selflessness and kindness, which are qualities people want to have and would want their children to have, so are likely to be influenced by this.
·      The Message
The advert message is mainly about kindness at Christmas time, and that John Lewis can help you achieve this. Most people value being like this, so it is not something that is far from what they believe. Therefore, they are likely to also want to achieve this quality.
·      The Audience
The audience of TV adverts are unlikely to be paying a great deal of attention and will probably be distracted. Most people know of the John Lewis brand, but are unlikely to have any strong feelings about them, so may be persuaded to like them more from the advert. Also, a high proportion of TV watchers are under the age of 25. According to Phillips and Sternthal (1977), young adults rate television as the most important media medium. In the same study, they argued that people are likely to become less susceptible to being persuaded as they get older.

Cartwright, J., McCormick, H., & Warnaby, G. (2016). Consumers' emotional responses to the Christmas TV advertising of four retail brands. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services29, 82-91.
Hovland, C. I., Janis, I. L., & Kelley, H. H. (1953). Communication and persuasion; psychological studies of opinion change.
Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D., & Solomon, S. (1999). The fundamental templates of quality ads. Marketing science18(3), 333-351.
Kruglanski, Arie W.; Van Lange, Paul A.M. (2012). Handbook of theories of social psychology. London, England: Sage. pp. 224–245.
Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion. In Communication and persuasion (pp. 1-24). Springer New York.
Phillips, L. W., & Sternthal, B. (1977). Age differences in information processing: a perspective on the aged consumer. Journal of Marketing Research, 444-457.
Powell, H. (2013). Promotional culture and convergence: Markets, methods, media. Routledge.

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