A boiling pot, little pigs and... a police team? First impressions suggest that this is a film trailer or at the very least a Sherlock Holmes style investigation. However, this little advert has many twists and turns along the way as although it did win a Cannes award, it, in fact is not a film trailer, but advertising The Guardian Newspaper.
Contrary to the popular children’s' story, the three little pigs are portrayed in the adverts as villains, having boiled the not so 'big bad wolf' alive. This creates a media frenzy and police investigation beginning with the pigs being put on trial, sparking riots and much polarised opinions.
This use of Storytelling is a clever persuasive technique. When arguing that AIDS is not spread through casual contact, Slusher & Anderson (1996) found it more effective to use facts about transmitting the disease embedded in a causal structure compared to using statistics. The advert shows many people can have different opinions about high profile events, but the three little pigs tale emphasises The Guardian’s commitment to reporting the ‘whole picture’ in their newspaper as they turned the story into something unexpected, whilst also showing the different interactive services they offer, such as forums and polls to help people get their view heard. Therefore, showing this story (especially as it is so familiar to many) and telling it from many different angles may make people want to buy this newspaper so that they can learn the truth about recent events and have their say.
By using this familiar story of the three little pigs, it not only grabs people’s attention but draws them in. Hahn & Hwang (1999) found that using familiar background music increased detail recall for an advert compared to unfamiliar music with the same advert. Through using this intriguing twist of the pigs being the villains in this familiar story, The Guardian make their advert more memorable and likeable, so readers are more likely to buy their product.
Additionally, The Guardian, through this advertisement and its brand in general, conveys its reputation as a credible source. Hovland & Weiss (1951) found that expert and trustworthy sources were more persuasive on various issues compared to those who were less trustworthy and lacking expertise, accrediting this to people’s desire to possess a correct attitude. Through their desire to give readers the ‘whole picture’, The Guardian further establishes its status as an expert. Therefore as the reader may feel like they don’t know enough about current issues, they may rely on the experts to gain their understanding (Pratkanis, 2007), making The Guardian a prime candidate.
Through use of these techniques, this clever advert seeks to ensure that The Guardian will continue to bring home the bacon, for a long time.
- Hovland, C. I., & Weiss, W. (1951). The influence of source credibility on communication effectiveness. Public Opinion Quarterly, 15, 635-650.
- Hahn, M., & Hwang, I. (1999). Effects of tempo and familiarity of background music on message processing in TV advertising: A resource-matching perspective. Psychology and marketing, 16, 659.
- 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.
- Slusher, M. P., & Anderson, C. A. (1996). Using causal persuasive arguments to change beliefs and teach new information: The mediating role of explanation availability and evaluation bias in the acceptance of knowledge. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88, 110.