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

It's more than just a giant napkin...

This advert, advertising McDonald’s new Big ‘n’ Juicy burger allows consumers to take a massive serviette from an oversized dispenser.  As was previously pointed out, this is an example of an interactive experiment template used in advertising (Goldenberg, Mazursky & Solomon, 1999). This is where the consumer can interact with the advert itself, in this case taking a serviette from it. However, there are other techniques that this advert uses as well…

I think this advert uses the extreme situation template (Goldenberg, Mazursky & Solomon, 1999). This is a technique where adverts represent scenarios that are unrealistic in order to amplify the product’s attributes. The size of the serviette suggests that the burger will be so big that it will require a serviette this large to clear up the mess from it. This is clearly an unrealistic representation because the burger is definitely not human-sized.

This advert also uses social proof. Social proof is when we look at how others are acting to determine what is and isn’t appropriate behaviour (Rao, Greve & Davis, 2001). As people walk past the advert they will see others taking a large serviette, realise this is the appropriate action and take one themselves which then gives the advert a wider audience. This fits with the idea of social modelling, where a person demonstrating a certain behaviour increases the likeliness of the observers then conducting that behaviour (Pratkanis, 2007). Brian and Test (1967) found that the presence of a helping model significantly increased helping behaviour, for example, in donating to the Salvation Army or helping a distressed motorist. People taking a serviette from the dispenser, therefore, is likely to increase the chance of observers also taking a serviette and thus increase the advertising for McDonalds as they carry around their oversized serviettes.

As you can see, this advert accentuates just how big and juicy this burger is from the size of the serviette – it suggests that it must be that big to mop up all the juice coming from this burger. People walking around with massive serviettes are going to encourage others to head to McDonalds to sample just how amazing this ‘Big ‘n’ Juicy’ burger is!


Brian, J. H. & Test, M. A. Models and helping: Naturalistic studies in aiding behaviour. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 6(4), 400-407.

Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D., Solomon, S. (1999). The fundamental templates of quality ads. Marketing Science, 18(3), 333-351.

Rao, H., Greve, H. R., Davis, G. F. (2001). Fool’s gold: Social proof in the initiation and abandonment of coverage by Wall Street analysts. Administrative Science Quarterly, 46(3), 502-526.

Pratkanis, A. R. (2007). The Science of Social Influence. New York: Psychology Press. 

Eleanor Silk     Blog 2

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