This is a feature from the No-Anorexia 2007 advertisement campaign by the Italian fashion designer Nolita. These shocking posters depict the emaciated, gaunt, 4st 8lb body of actress and model, Isabelle Caro. The campaign was intended to break the silence which surrounds anorexia, and to raise awareness of the dangers of eating disorders. The use of a naked body is hard-hitting and poignant in raising awareness of an issue that is so often imposed by stereotypes of what it means to be "beautiful". The fact that this advertisement has been generated by a fashion brand directly challenges that the stick-thin "beauty" stereotype is what designers want. Thus, the creators of the advert establish themselves as a credible source for the delivery of the persuasive message that "beautiful" does not mean what is seen in the advert.
A primary persuasive tactic this advert utilizes is that of a vivid appeal. All three aspects of a vivid appeal (Pratkanis, 2007) have been met in this advert: it is emotionally engaging, image provoking, and immediate. More specifically, the type of vivid appeal in the advert is that of a fear appeal. The arousal of fear creates an aversive state which we want to avoid: a desire to escape danger. This advert aims to raise awareness of avoiding anorexic behaviour by creating a fear state of what may happen to you if you don't.
This fear appeal uses a tactic of disgust to scare the targets of the advertisement. Morales, Wu, and Fitzsimons (2012) demonstrate that by adding disgust to a fear appeal, the persuasive power and thus behavioural compliance is significantly enhanced beyond that of appeals that elicit only fear. It is hypothesized that disgust specifically exploits our natural avoidance tendency. In the research by Morales et al. (2012), participants were shown advertisement posters for the reduction of meth-amphetamine use that utilized fear only, fear and disgust, or neutral emotion tactics. The disgusting image showed a teenager with open sores on his face, the scary image was a coffin, and the neutral image was two teenagers sitting side by side. Participants indicated greater levels of persuasion and compliance (indicated lower likelihoods via questionnaire of their future drug use over the next 2 months) in response to a disgust-inducing fear appeal relative to both a non-disgusting fear appeal and a control appeal.
Morales, A. C., Wu, E. C., & Fitzsimons, G. J. (2012). How disgust enhances the effectiveness of fear appeals. Journal of Marketing Research, 49, 383-393.
Pratkanis, A. R. (2007). The science of social influence: Advances and future progress. New York: Psychology Press.