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

Italian Lingerie Company says bye-bye to Berlusconi

Yamamay, an Italian lingerie company used the advertisement above to attempt a goodbye to Berlusconi, in an distasteful manner. In 2011, the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi resigned as prime minister of Italy.  At that time, he also had many court appearances ahead of him, including some to respond to underage prostitution allegations.
This advertisement by Yamamay, including a topless, smiling woman, has the tagline “bye-bye Mr. President!”, referring to Berlusconi’s departure. The background is sparkly pink, with the model holding a small dog in a Santa hat, the ad attempts to create a cute image overall. It appears as though the ad is trying to make light of a serious situation. However, Berlusconi’s charges are anything but light, as he faced accusations that he may have had a sexual encounter with a 17-year-old (this is underage according to Italian law). This ad appears to implicitly support the sexist culture fostered by Berlusconi.
Yamamay's advert attempts to use humour to advertise their product. The effect of humour in advertisements was tested by Duncan, Nelson, Frontczak (1984). In this study, one hundred and fifty-seven male participants listened to four basic commercials. The commercials each contained four primary selling propositions (PSPs) and were all the same in factual content and approximate length, but different in structure. Commercial A presented humour before the four PSPs. Commercial B included humour after presentation of the first three PSPs, but before the fourth. Commercial C was identical to commercial B, however participants heard the PSPs before being exposed to humour. Commercial D was identical to C however contained no humour. Participants were then given a questionnaire, including a question of unaided recall of the four PSPs. They were also given Likert statements that included measures of humour. The results showed that perceived humour aided recall. It was found that humour improves commercial comprehension.

However, it has also been found that humour attempts considered to be offensive by the audience can be counterproductive to persuasive goals (Weinberger & Gulas, 1992). Which I believe is the case in this advert.

Duncan, C. P., Nelson, J. E., & Frontczak, N. T. (1984). The Effect of Humor on Advertising Comprehension. Advances in Consumer Research, 11, 432-437.

Weinberger, M.G., & Gulas, C. S. (1992). The impact of humour in advertising: A review. Journal of Advertising, 21(4), 35-59.

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