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.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I'll be there, but will you?
Do you get bored of continually seeing bank adverts on TV? I certainly do! Every single bank can offer you the best deal, the best service, the best interest rates. The question: which one should you choose? Halifax Bank released this advert in 2011. It shows snippets of various ordinary people offering a helping hand to their neighbour by for example, helping lift a pram up a flight of stairs. Over these clips comes singing from a Halifax choir singing “I’ll be There”. The advert ends on promising current account customers £5 each month. So, why is this advert so persuasive?

Music is an integral part of advertising. Research has shown that it is very effective way to trigger moods and communicate non-verbally (Alpert, Alpert, & Maltz, 2005). By using the choir in the Halifax advert, advertisers are making sure that the bank’s services are associated with the music so that the likelihood of joining Halifax is increased through classical conditioning (Gorn, 1982). The music selected for this particular advert is relaxing. Rohner and Miller (1980) found that slow music decreased their participants’ anxiety levels. Surely therefore, if we are less anxious, we are more likely to make a purchase.

Reciprocity is used very effectively in this advert. The very nature of human beings means that if someone does something for us, we feel obliged to return the gesture (Prakanis, 2007). Kunz and Woolcott (1976) found that when they sent Christmas cards to a sample of strangers, the majority of them sent one back. Halifax offers current account customers £5 each month. Though this is a small token from an arguably huge cooperation, the principle of reciprocity means that an unsuspecting person would feel they had to reciprocate. Many people don’t fall for such a blatant marketing ploy. Well done. Yet, don’t be fooled! Halifax use the song “I’ll be there”. The clear message from this is that the bank will be there to support the customer in their time of need. Therefore, do you need to be there to support their business? Clearly, music is a very powerful way to communicate a message.

Social proof is also interesting. When we are unsure of a situation, we look to others for guidance on how to behave, especially if they are similar to us. Burger et al. (2004) found that participants were more likely to proof read the confederate’s essay, when they believed they had the same birthday. Halifax’s advert is predominantly made up of clips of “average people” being there for others. The consumer can then associate this with Halifax and ultimately decide that banks aren’t just for people in smart suits, as the stereotype suggests.

This advert particularly makes use of a range of persuasive techniques - it’s not just the small print you have to watch out for!
Philippa Mundy


Alpert, M. I., Alpert, J. I., & Maltz, E. N. (2005). Purchase occasion influence on the role of music in advertising. Journal of Business Research, 58(3), 369–376.

Burger, J. M., Messian, M., Patel, S., Del Prado, A, & Anderson, C. (2004). What a coincidence! The effects of incidental similarity on compliance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30(1), 35-43.

Gorn, G. J. (1982). The effects of music in advertising on choice behavior: a classical conditioning approach. Journal of Marketing, 46, 94–101.

Kunz, P. R., & Woolcott, M. (1976). Season’s greetings: From my status to yours. Social Science Research, 5, 269 – 278.

Rohner, S. J., & Miller, R. (1980). Degrees of familiar and affective music and their effects on state anxiety. Journal of Music Therapy, 17, 2-15.

Pratkanis, A. R. (Ed.). (2007). Social influence analysis: An index of tactics. The Science of Social Influence: Advances and future progress. New York: Psychology Press.



1 comment:

  1. Well done. Well analysed and you finish it nicely. I found a couple of sentences in the third paragraph to be unclear but overall your writing tone is perfect.


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