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.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

OXY - man sized problems

Warning – this advert is truly repulsive!!

This advert from OXY Australia is one of the most disgusting adverts ever seen. It shows a collection of YouTube clips of men squeezing their spots, allowing us an intimate view of their oozing, squirting and in most cases projectile mirror splashing spots! The end of the advert (take my word for it if you weren't able to watch until then) has the tag line ‘Man sized problems need man sized solutions – engineered for male skin’, advertising oxy face wash.
Anyone who isn't a fan of pus or blood will not enjoy this advert. However you can understand where the advertisers are coming from as the target audience is teenage boys, who perhaps are most likely to enjoy these nauseating videos due to a possible preference for gross-out humour. The advert attempts to appeal to the buyers masculinity; clear from the tagline as well as the music ‘Grieg: In the Hall of the Mountain King’ which is better known for its use in adventure parks such as ‘Alton Towers’ therefore sends images of challenge and adventure. In some sense the advert is also effective as it shows real people with real spots as opposed to glossy images of models splashing their faces in the mirror.

The main issue I have with this advert is that it is too much. In my opinion it is too disgusting for too long to be effective. The advert is so difficult to watch that it cannot be guaranteed that the viewer will even be able to sit through the whole thing, meaning they might not get to the end and even see the point of the advert and its product. If this is true then the advert is not only irrelevant but is causing adverse feelings for absolutely no benefit.
In fact some studies have shown the negative impact of disgust on buying and selling tendencies. Lerner, Small and Loewenstein (2004) manipulated participants’ emotions using a film clip and endowed them with an object. When given the opportunity to sell the object back it was found that participants who were manipulated to be disgusted sold their objects at significantly lower prices than neutral mood participants. Furthermore disgusted participants were willing to pay lower prices for a non-owned product. This implies that when feeling disgusted, people may place less value on advertised products, perhaps because disgust causes goals to dispel, as opposed to, for example the emotion of sadness, which triggers the goal of changing one’s circumstances and can increase buying.

Perhaps had the advert shown a couple of real people squeezing regular spots (instead of the infected horrors seen here), or even just one horrific spot, the same message and audience would have been reached without repelling the audience so completely.

Lerner, J. S., Small, D. A., & Loewenstein, G. (2004). Heart Strings and Purse Strings: Carryover Effects of Emotions on Economic Decisions. Psychological Science, 15(5), 337-341.

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