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

Andrex Shea Butter Toilet Tissue

This Andrex Shea Butter luxurious toilet tissue advert was launched in Febrary 2009. Despite it being just toilet paper, people are still willing to pay more for a “luxury” brand that does the same job as an ordinary one. Strange isn’t it? Andrex has been the toilet tissue market leader since 1961, growing by more than £20 million from 2010 to 2011. However, the questions is…. is it really the toilet paper consumers are after in this case or is it simply the brand which uses a picture of the cute Andrex puppy at the front that lures their consumers?

Studies have shown that sellers use the emotional bond that pet owners feel with their pets to their advantage, since it helps them persuade consumers to make purchases and to gain their trustworthiness through connecting with the emotions they feel about their pets (Holbrook, Stephens, Day & Holbrook, 2001). This study used the heuristic–systematic model (HSM) to examine consumer response to animal companions in advertisements. Specifically, HSM serves as the theoretical foundation for testing the effects of animal heuristic cues on the formation of attitude toward the advert, attitude toward the brand, and purchase intention. They found that the presence of a dog increased heuristic processing, concurrent processing, and ultimately attitude toward the given advert (Holbrook, Stephens, Day & Holbrook, 2001).

The emotional appeal tactic used by Andrex explicitly draws the consumers to buy their product by showing them images of the cute puppy. This acts to almost distract the viewers and tries to eliminate their rational thinking. Emotion has been shown to reinforce brand recognition that is weakened by attention, and so advertisers use animals to bring about an emotional reaction to try to increase brand awareness and target the message at a lower level of attention. This advert is simple yet effective and it brings about a positive attitude towards the brand. Furthermore, research by Phillips (1996) proposes that adverts, which use attractive pets, promote positive associations between brands and the consumers and so in order to be successful, adverts should focus on animals.

Finally, Andrex have been using puppies aged 6-8 weeks (which when the puppies were found to look their cutest) in their advertisements for over 40 years. Consumers often purchase this brand because they associate the characteristics of the puppy in the advert “Silky Soft” with the toilet paper.


Heath, R., Brandt, D., & Nairn, A. (2006). Brand Relationships: Strengthened by Emotion, Weakened by Attention. Journal of Advertising Research, 10, 410 - 418.

Holbrook, M. B., Stephens, D. L., Day, E., & Holbrook, S. M. (2001). A Collective Stereographic Photo Essay on Key Aspects of Animal Companionship: The Truth About Dogs and Cats. Academy of Marketing Science Review, 1, 1-17.

Phillips, B. (1996). Advertising and the Cultural Meaning of Animals. Advances in Consumer Research, 23, 354 - 360.


  1. Nicely done. How did Holbrook measure 'heuristic processing'? Thanks.

  2. They used a thought-listing technique to measure the number of systematic and heuristic cognitions an ad generates. Results showed that participants in the dog-ad group generated significantly more heuristic than systematic thoughts (3.1 versus 1.56, respectively, t = 7.1, p < .01), thus they were more likely to be classified as heuristic processors than those in the no-dog group.


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