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, February 13, 2013

I Am What I Am - Reebok advert

In most Reebok advertisments celebrities are used, as Reebok’s marketing strategy is to encourage young people to embrace their own unique individuality by celebrating their contemporary heroes. In this specific ad, 50 Cent is used. Research has found that linking a product to a celebrity draws consumer attention which generates high recall rates, leading to better sales and profits (Erdogan, 1999). This specific ad didn’t seem to glamorize 50 Cent as a celebrity endorsement. The marketing team didn’t portray the message clearly and viewers claimed it glamorized gun culture and violence. Throughout this ad 50 Cent is shown counting from one to nine, to symbolize the number of times he has been shot, and a voice in the background asked who he planned to “massacre” next.

A study was done to test the experimental analysis of children’s responses to TV ads with celebrity endorsements, and results found that children, especially from ages 8-10 were more likely to copy and agree with the celebrity endorsers as they are associated with glamour (Ross, Campbell, Wright, Huston, Rice & Turk, 1984). This was certainly true for this advertising campaign as this advert was soon banned, as it was believed that to young viewers the advert portrayed that “50 Cents’ violent background was cool, and they should to be just like him”.

This advert is filmed in dodgy areas, and is shown to be dim, dark and rainy. For more than half the advert 50 Cent is sitting in a dark room, with no lighting and the overall mood seems to be negative. Levy (1984) found that colours in adverts invoke emotional responses, and bright colours lead to better perceptions about the advertised product. Thus, the advert has a negative connation towards it as dark colours are used.

Another main flaw with this advert is that 50 Cent being shot 9 times is repeatedly mentioned, however there is no mention of the brand Reebok, until the last few seconds where the logo appears on the screen. The shoes are also not focused on, and it is uncertain if 50 Cent is even wearing Reebok clothes or shoes. The whole advert of 50 Cent doesn’t even seem to have any relevance to the shoe, and the link between them is not shown. For all we know this could have been a clip encouraging gun crime, as the Reebok shoes seem completely irrelevant!

Erdogan, B. Z. (1999) Celebrity Endorsement: A Literature Review. Journal of Marketing Management, 15 (4), 291-314.

Levy, B. I. (1984) Research into the psychological meaning of color. American Journal of Art Therapy, 2, 58–62.
Ross, R. P., Campbell, T., Wright, J. C., Huston, A. C., Rice, M. L., & Turk, P. (1984). When celebrities talk, children listen: An experimental analysis of children’s responses to TV ads with celebrity endorsement. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 5(3), 185-202.

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