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, March 5, 2013


This advertisement by the National Health Service provides what Goldberg et al. (1999) coined a ‘Pictorial Analogy’ template advertisement.  Addiction is demonstrated through showing smokers with fish hooks through their lips. The replacement that occurs is that of the cigarette with a fish hook, encapsulating the vulnerable position smokers are in as well as the concepts implicit in being ‘hooked’ in which you have less control over your life due to being controlled by this destructive force. The advertisement was perceived as very strong and the standards committee of advertising received a vast amount of complaints for this advert, despite it not being abjectly offensive the analogy drawn is a very perturbing and affective one. Another component of this advert that lends it weight to its audience is how ill the man whose lip is hooked looks. They have smartly incorporated some of the superficial detrimental effects of smoking whilst also addressing a deep analogy.

The style of this advert is concurrent with what Pechmann & Reibling (2006) found to be one of the most effective techniques of persuasive messages of this kind. In their study ‘Antismoking Advertisements for Youths: An Independent Evaluation of Health Counter – Industry and Industry approaches’ they found that in past studies, asking teenagers about their opinions of anti-smoking adverts and campaigns,  teenagers had expressed the opinion that in terms of effectiveness they ‘generally preferred’ advertisements that were health-themed but that evoked strong negative emotions. They themselves went on to find that adverts that were most effective depicted young people suffering from tobacco related diseases. I think the advertisements in this campaign by the NHS are a very effective attempt at communicating the psychological and physical ailments that come hand in hand with addiction to tobacco.

Pechmann, C., & Reibling, E. T. (2006) Antismoking Advertisements for Youths: An independent Evaluation of Health Counter-Industry and Industry approaches.  American Journal of Public Health, 96, 5, p905.

Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D. et al. (1999). The fundamental templates of quality ads. Marketing Science, 333-351.

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