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.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

German Engineering for your hair

This is a short advert from 2011 for Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo, which claims to be “the UK’s fastest growing men’s shampoo; because it prevents hair loss”. The advert is simple – it shows a large quantity of Alpecin shampoo bottles, which gradually zoom off until just one bottle remains. Meanwhile, a female voiceover explains what the product is, and where you can buy it, using metaphors and sounds associated with car racing.  

The advert uses a range of persuasive weapons, first and foremost the principle of scarcity, which is the idea that the scarcer something is, the more valuable it becomes (Cialdini, 2007). The visual of the rapidly depleting stocks of Alpecin bottles, in combination with the phrase “it’s moving quickly” gives the impression that Alpecin shampoo is limited, which encourages men to dash to the shops before it’s too late. To demonstrate, Eisend (2008) showed participants an H&M advertisement, which either stressed the scarcity of the clothing line, or stressed that there was sufficient stock (non-scarcity condition). Results showed that those participants who believed the products were scarce not only valued the products more, but also showed greater intention to purchase them.  
Additionally, the advert exploits the phenomenon of social proof, i.e. the idea that we base our judgements of what is correct on what other people think is correct. This means the advertisers don’t even need to tell us how good their product is, because if other men are using Alpecin, it must be good, right? And if it’s good, then you should buy it too, right?

Finally, the advert’s effectiveness is rooted in its positive association with German engineering, renowned for its quality and reliability. The advertisers assume that the attributes we link to German engineering will also be attributed to Alpecin shampoo. Praxmarer and Gierl (2009) found that when an advert provoked positive memories/fantasies in consumers, their attitude toward the brand became more positive, and vice versa if the memories were negative. The positive association featured in this Alpecin ad suggests that potential consumers will see the brand more favourably, and thus be more likely to go and buy it, which is after all the underlying goal of the exercise.

Cialdini, R. B. (2007). Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. New York: HarperCollins.

Eisend, M. (2008). Explaining the impact of scarcity appeals in advertising: The mediating role of the perceptions of susceptibility. Journal of Advertising, 37, 33-40.

Praxmarer, S., & Gierl, H. (2009) The effects of positive and negative ad-evoked associations on brand attitude. Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, 21, 507-520.

Sophie Hitchcock

1 comment:

  1. Very well written. You have made the links between the ad and the science easy to understand.


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