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 23, 2013

Jenny Craig: Loosing Weight Doesn't Have to be Scary

This advertisement was used throughout 2012 to promote the weight loss brand Jenny Craig which delivers weight loss meals to client’s houses and provides a personal assistant to give advice and help you lose weight with a personalised diet plan. This advertisement was particularly shown after the Christmas period and before the summer as this is when people are most likely to want to lose weight as they have over indulged at Christmas and want to get a ‘bikini’ body for their holidays.

The advert uses a wide variety of persuasive techniques the first being that they use the famous Spice Girl Mel B to endorse the brand (high-status admirer altercast). In a study by Glover (2009), it was found that when a celebrity was used to endorse a certain holiday location then consumers were more likely to choose that destination for a holiday. He examined the effects of this by showing participants famous celebrities endorsing certain holiday destinations in advertisements and found that if the celebrity was shown in a positive light then participants were more likely to choose that destination for a holiday than if the celebrity was not seen in a positive light. In this advertisement Mel B is shown in a positive light as she has lost weight by following the Jenny Craig diet plan, thus, making consumers more likely to follow her lead and also invest money to follow the diet plan.

The advert is aimed at a target audience (middle aged women) by using Mel B. According to the similarity hypothesis we are more likely to relate to people that we see as similar to ourselves (similarity altercast), especially when they are of the same gender as us (Hyde, 2005).  

The advertisement is also made light hearted by using humour as Mel B takes the mickey out of herself by saying; “when I used to walk it was like bam bah dah bum bah dah, now it’s like duh duh duh”. Humour has been shown to encourage a positive response from a person as it makes them feel good about themselves, particularly for those whose need for cognition is low (Zhang, 1996). 

To add to this, Mel B is shown before and after using the Jenny Craig weight loss programme and inevitably she is shown looking much slimmer and toned after using the programme, this helps to convince and show people that the Jenny Craig diet works and thus would encourage them to try it for themselves.
Further to this, in the ‘before’ shots Mel B is shown slouching on a sofa in a dimly lit room wearing slouchy, baggy clothes and when she is shown ‘after’ she is in a bright, sunlight room in tight clothing and standing up. This helps to make her look much healthier and thinner after the diet than before by using tricks of lighting, which induces a positive mood by increasing serotonin levels. So when watching the advert people feel a negative moods before she under takes the diet plan and a positive mood when she has finished the diet plan meaning that consumers are more likely to want to do the diet plan themselves as they think that it is related to feeling positive and happy. Rot (2008) investigated  whether lighting affects participants mood and found that when lighting was dim it induces a worst mood and when lights are bright this regulates and lifts moods. This was found by changing light exposure levels in a room with participants and measuring their serotonin levels which is known to play a part in mood regulation. 

Finally, the advertisement uses an upbeat, cheery, catchy background tune. This makes people more likely to remember the advert and thus the product as they associate the tune with the product. Michiko and Masasi (2011) found that inducing mood with music was effective at making participants report having felt a positive or negative mood.


Glover, P. (2009). Celebrity endorsement in tourism advertising: Effects on destination image. Journal of hospiatality and tourism management, 16, 1.
Hyde, J. (2005). The gender similarities hypothesis. American psychologist, 60, 581-59

Michiko, M & Masasi, H. (2011). A critical evaluation of the mood induction technique using music. The Japanese journal of cognitive psychology, 8, 89-98.

Rot, A, H. (2008). Serotonin, bright light, and the regulation of human social interaction and mood. The sciences and engineering, 68, 1-6582. 

Zhang, Y. (1996). Responses to humorous advertising: The moderating effect of need for cognition. Journal of Advertising,25, 15-32.


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