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, January 30, 2014

Cute to Creepy in 30 Seconds

For the best effect, watch the video in full screen!


It’s amazing how a cat and a creepy guy dressed as a cat can rack up millions on views on YouTube…all in the name of confectionary. Skittles marketing team have done it again - traditional brand advertising has been dropped and the use of a simple interaction technique has had us simple beings succumbing to the viral power of an amusing cat once again.
Humour is the leading persuasive technique in this advertisement which makes the brand appear fun and light-hearted - this increases liking for the product. Strick et al (2009) found that persuasion is increased through liking by the changing of implicit attitudes. This was demonstrated by participants who viewed a product presented consistently with a humorous cartoon compared to a non-humorous version. The results found that product choice and evaluations were more positive when paired with the humorous advert, merely by association. Humour is a common and effective technique used by confectionary companies as they want their products to come across as enjoyable, it is not an industry which desires to be taken too seriously.
The use of humour also leads to a positive mood in the viewer. Petty, Schumann, Richman and Stratchman (1993) found that a positive mood results in effective persuasion when the targets are not motivated to think about an issue or product in too much depth. A positive mood directly impacts the positivity of the attitude which can improve liking for the product. This is relevant in the case of this advertisement as there is not much focus on the actual sweet itself; there is more emphasis on the bizarre situation with the crazy cat man.

This particular video from the ‘Touch the Rainbow’ series (there are 3 more) requires the viewer to place their index finger on the screen. The use of an interactive activation template increases the persuasive value of the advert as viewer involvement through physical activity requires more effort. Effortful processing is associated with high cognitive activity, leading to the advertisement being more memorable (Goldenberg et al, 1999). The shock of the man coming to lick your finger further increases audience attention as viewers are much more likely to remember shocking advertisements than those which are not (Dahl, Frankenberger & Manchanda, 2003).

The use of humour and shock in this advert is what caused it to go viral. Once again an advert has been produced which has little to do with the actual product but has been highly effective in generating hype. I don’t think I’ll eat a red Skittle again without picturing that man’s face…but that shows that the advert has been effective, right?

Dahl, D. W., Frankenberger, K. D. & Manchanda, R. V., “Does it Pay to Shock? Reactions to Shocking and Nonshocking Advertising Content among University Students”, Journal of Advertising Research, September 2003, pp. 268-280.
Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D., & Solomon, S. (1999). The fundamental templates of quality ads. Marketing Science, 18(3), 333-351.
Petty, R. E., Schumann, D. W., Richman, S. A., & Strathman, A. J. (1993). Positive mood and persuasion: Different roles for affect under high-and low-elaboration conditions. Journal of personality and social psychology, 64(1), 5
Strick, M., Van Baaren, R.B., Holland, R.W., & Van Knippenberg, A. (2009). Humor in advertisements enhances product liking by mere association. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Applied, 15, 35-45.
Katie Ashcroft - Blog #2

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