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, January 30, 2013

Control Arms - Chew this Over.

Control Arms is campaigning for a bulletproof Arms Trade Treaty. This treaty will protect many lives and livelihood by creating an international legally-binding agreement that would limit arms and ammunition trade. It aims to work towards a treaty that prevents trade that would fuel conflict, poverty and have serious abuses of human rights. This campaign was started in 2003.

A massive part of the campaign has focused on the fact that it is easier to trade guns than bananas. This is something that many people have been outraged about.
This poster attached is one of their many adverts for the campaign. I particularly like this advert because of the use of wordplay along with a manipulated image to really draw attention to the fact that it is easier to trade guns than bananas. The function of world play in adverts can vary from double meanings to comedy effects (Djafarova, 2006). This advert displays both double meanings and comedy to a degree. This is present in the use of the statement “chew this over” a long side a manipulated image of a gun looking like a banana. This is meant to play on the irony of it being dangerous to trade guns but yet our international regulations are formulated as if bananas are a larger threat to us.
Resonance is present in print ads when they use wordplay and a relevant picture together (McQuarrie & Mick, 1992). This is something that this print advert by Control Arms does; this is done by the use of the sentence “chew this over” (word play) and an image of a gun having very similar features to a banana (picture). Research by McQuarrie and Mick (1992) showed that resonance in an advert leads to a higher degree of liking for that advert and an improved recall of the advert headlines as well as an increased amount of positivity towards the brand advertising the product. The participants were shown an advert booklet with 12 adverts involving four test adverts; one was an inconsistent resonant ad, one was a consistent resonance ad and two were nonresonant. Consistent with their hypothesis, resonant adverts were more liked than the nonresonant adverts, also for the resonant adverts brand attitude was more positive and recall for headlines was higher. As this first experiment was conducted on students the researchers conducted a similar experiment on a more diverse sample, this was done to add more ecological validity to their results. The results from the first experiment are supported in the second experiment with some additional significant findings. In experiment two the researchers found that there is a significant effect of advert liking and tolerance for ambiguity – in particular for the inconsistent-resonant adverts. Additionally they found that further support for the semiotic explanation of resonance. This explanation outlines the pleasure that results from successful decoding of the advert.
Therefore, this advert for Control Arms uses resonance to add a persuasive force to the message as the viewers will like the message and the brand more as well as remember the headline more efficiently. This advert is also benefiting from providing it’s viewers with an ambiguous phrase and image which they will experience pleasure form successfully decoding.


Djafarova, E. (2008). Why do advertisers use puns? A linguistic perspective.Journal of Advertising Research, 48, 267-275.
McQuarrie, E. F., & Mick, D. (1992). On Resonance: A Critical Pluralistic Inquiry into Advertising Rhetoric. Journal Of Consumer Research, 19, 180-197.

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