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.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Faster than a cheetah?

This is an advertisement by Hyundai and various techniques are used to get viewers interested in purchasing this car. 

So, did you notice the sexy men at the beginning of this advert? I bet you admired them (especially the guy who released the cheetah), didn't you? According to Pratkanis (2007), the desire to identify yourself with physically attractive individuals can increase the persuasive effectiveness for good-looking communicators, implying that in the Hyundai advert both men and women would be more inclined to purchase this particular vehicle in order to identify themselves with physically attractive individuals. Additionally, Reingen and Kernan (1993) found when individuals were asked for donations to a charitable cause, they gave more money to physically attractive people than those who are less attractive, suggesting that physically attractive people are perceived more favourably on traits that are associated with selling attractiveness. Therefore, the presence of sexy men or women in an advertisement can increase sales of a product.

This advertisement displays an association between a Hyundai car and a cheetah, which is the fastest land animal in the world. In this case, the qualities of speed and agility are being transferred onto the Hyundai car; therefore, by association with the cheetah’s speed capability, the car is perceived as something extraordinary and sleek. Moreover, the cheetah is a beautiful animal...would the effect be the same if they used a wildebeest instead? In automobile advertising research, Smith and Engel (1968) found that the presence of an attractive female influenced ratings of automobile performance; simply advertising automobiles with female models increased perceptions of speed, horsepower and price. Therefore, presenting the Hyundai car with a cheetah will make the car more appealing and desirable. 

The Hyundai might beat the cheetah, but what about the man? Humour was used at the end of this advertisement when the cheetah gave up on the Hyundai and pursued the attractive male. Sternthal and Craig (1973) found a distraction effect of humour may lead to persuasion. Therefore, this advertisement created a lasting humorous impression on the viewer, which may ultimately lead to increased Hyundai car sales. 

What did we learn from this advert? Basically, you should buy this Hyundai car because you will never experience death by cheetah (you can never be sure you’re safe from cheetahs in the UK), and you will appear sexy and sleek in you’re new swift car. 

Simran Vaswani


Pratkanis, A. R. (2007). Social influence analysis: An index of tactics. In A. R. Pratkanis (Ed.), The science of social influence: Advances and future progress (pp. 17-82). New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Reingen, P. H., & Kernan, J. B. (1993). Social perception and interpersonal influence: Some consequences of the physical attractiveness stereotype in a personal selling setting. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2, 25-38.

Smith, G., & Engel, R. (1968). Influence of a female model on perceived characteristics of an automobile. Proceedings of the 76th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, 3, 681-682.

Sternthal, B., & Craig, S. (1973). Humor in advertising. Journal of Marketing, 37, 12-18.

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