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.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Burger King Cologne?

As part of a large campaign, Burger King released 'Flame' (a meat scented cologne) which was fronted by the former Daily Mirror editor and America’s Got Talent host, Piers Morgan. I found this advert nauseating/hilarious on a number of levels and although I don‘t find it a persuasive advert, it does make use of some persuasive techniques.

I appreciate the tongue-in-cheek take on underwear adverts featuring high-status celebrities (e.g. Armani’s recent campaign featuring David Beckham) as a comedic device. Humour is a common advertising technique. In a study by Krishnan and Chakravarki (2003), participants who were shown humorous cartoon adverts provided higher ratings of the product endorsed than participants shown a cartoon advert that was non-humorous (i.e. the use of humour made the target more favourably disposed to the agent). A meta-analysis of research into advertising showed that humour significantly enhances attention, positive emotions, and recall (Eisend, 2009). However, empirical studies have failed to obtain conclusive results about the persuasive power of humour (Forabosco, 2011). According to Meyer (2000) ‘the use of humour clearly enhances one’s leadership and persuasive influence’ although it was noted that this is only true in moderation and the overuse of humour can lower credibility. I think this advert is funny but too over-the-top.

This advert tries to make use of the High Status Admirer Altercast, and potentially the Physically Attractive –Admirer Altercast (although I am dubious about how many people hold that opinion of Piers Morgan). Individuals often admire and seek to identify with those in prominent, prestigious positions and with the beautiful. Research shows that participants were more likely to comply with the request of returning a lost dime when asked to do so by a smartly dressed individual, than by a less well-dressed individual (Bickman, 1971). Furthermore, Reingen and Kernan (1993) showed that more attractive communicators are more effective at selling products and changing the attitudes of those they are selling to (i.e. are more persuasive). Source credibility is often very persuasive, but I don’t watch America’s got Talent and find him mildly repulsive so if that was a persuasive tactic the marketers had in mind, I’m immune. My assumption is that it’s a joke advert for a novelty gift but the use of Piers Morgan seems inconsistent with what I imagine is the target audience (20-30 year old men buying the product for a friend?) as i imagine he’s not particularly popular with that group. Piers Morgan certainly doesn't make me want to buy Burger King products.

Bickman, L. (1971). The effect of social status on the honesty of others. Journal of Social Psychology, 85: 87–92.
Eisend, M. (2009). A meta-analysis of humor in advertising. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 37(2), 191-203.
Forabosco, G. (2011). Notes on humour and persuasion in advertising and legal discourse. The Pragmatics of Humour Across Discourse Domains, 210.
Krishnan, H. S., & Chakravarti, D. (2003). A process analysis of the effects of humorous advertising executions on brand claims memory. Journal of consumer psychology, 13(3), 230-245.
Meyer, J. C. (2000). Humor as a double-edged sword: Four functions of humor in communication. Communication Theory, 10(3), 310-331.
Reingen, P. H., & Kernan, J. B. (1993). Social perception and interpersonal influence: Some consequences of the physical attractiveness stereotype in a personal selling setting. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2(1), 25-38.

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