This ad is one of many from the Cadbury Creme Egg ‘How do you eat yours?’ campaign. This campaign ran from 1985-2007 in various forms such as; ‘eat it your way’ and ‘I ate it my way’. I’m sure that you all remember this campaign as it was long-running and extremely successful.
This campaign is beautifully simplistic and plays on one basic premise of human nature- that we want to fit in and do what others do and be ‘normal’.
Its message is subtle: ‘How do you eat yours? Because you are eating one, right?’.
The message seems almost pompous- it is assuming there is no question as to whether or not you will buy a Creme Egg, because everybody buys Creme Eggs, it’s just a question of how you prefer to eat it.
This simple yet incredibly effective premise employs the use of ‘social proof’. This is said by Cialdini (1993) to be a principle of social influence and persuasion. Social proof refers to a basic habit of human nature to look to others to tell us what to do in a situation so that we can behave correctly and normatively (Deutsch and Gerard 1955). Therefore, by simply implying that people enjoy different ways of eating the Creme Egg, it implies that lots of people eat Creme Eggs! This activates the autopilot mechanism inside of us that makes us think ‘oh I better eat them too then!’.
Social proof has been studied extensively. One amusing study by Milgram, Bickman and Berkowitz (1969) found that simply getting a few confederates to stand in the street and stare up at a building causes a rather large group of passersby to gather and also stare at the blank space, just because others were doing it! Research has even found that we use social proof to determine what emotion we are feeling when we are unsure, as demonstrated by Schachter and Singer (1962). In light of this, it doesn’t seem so unlikely that we would look to others for information on which chocolate to buy.
Not only did this campaign imply social proof, it did actually generate it. The ads featured people eating Creme Eggs in outrageous ways- I’m certain we all remember the one little boy who exclaimed; ‘I like mine with chips’- which in itself caused a flurry of internet posts and videos detailing how people liked to eat their Creme Eggs. These videos then became the social proof that other people were eating Creme Eggs. A norm of Creme Egg eating was established via the original campaign and then made salient by people jumping on the bandwagon.
It became paramount to have eaten a Creme Egg just so that you could have an answer to the question that was on everybody’s lips; ‘How do you eat yours?’.
Cialdini, R. B. (1993). Influence: Science and practice (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Harper Collins.
Deutsch, M., & Gerard, H. B. (1955). A study of normative and informational social influences upon individual judgment. The journal of abnormal and social psychology, 51, 629.
Milgram, S., Bickman, L., & Berkowitz, L. (1969). Note on the drawing power of crowds of different size. Journal of personality and social psychology, 13, 79.
Schachter, S., & Singer, J. (1962). Cognitive, social, and physiological determinants of emotional state. Psychological review, 69, 379.