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.

Friday, February 15, 2013

British Humanism Association

This marketing campaign aims to promote The British Humanism Association (B.H.A.) and raise awareness of atheism in the U.K.

First and foremost, the advert could be seen as extremely offensive to religious communities. The fact that the word ‘probably’ is included to adhere to British Advertising Standards doesn’t detract from this. The slogan seems to insinuate that atheism is the only way to enjoy life.

The website for the B.H.A. claims that ‘We promote Humanism, a secular state, and equal treatment of everyone regardless of religion or belief.’ However this marketing campaign seems to contradict this notion. It is difficult to determine who the B.H.A. had in mind when deciding on a target audience for this campaign. It received many complaints from religious and non-religious individuals alike. It is one thing to raise awareness of an alternative but another thing entirely to force this on the general public and to look down on those who do not agree.

Although this campaign may have caused a stir, I do not think it was a positive one for the B.H.A. Wheatley et al (1970) assigned participants to low/high anxiety groups after completing the ‘Lack of Protection’ anxiety test. Participants were then assigned to a ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ life insurance advert condition. Those in the high anxiety group were found to rate the positive adverts in a more favourable manner. The B.H.A could have been more persuasive by focussing on the positive aspects of atheism rather than framing religion in a negative light.

Wheatley, J. J., & Oshikawa, S. (1970).  The relationship between anxiety and positive and negative advertising appeals. The Journal of Marketing Research, 7, 85-89.

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