This is an advert from around two years ago for Kim Kardashian’s fragrance, Gold. Kim features in just about every gossip magazine money can buy, and is now a reality TV star, making her a household name and a known face. This advert therefore shows social modeling, with Kim being our source of social proof. There are many different fragrances out there, which creates uncertainty in which one to buy, so celebrities are brought in to show us the way as we’re more likely to copy behavior if the model is high in attractiveness, status, and power, all of which come with celebrity status (Bickman, 1971; Pratkanis, 2007).
Reigan and Kernan (1993) and Chaiken (1979) report that physically attractive people are more persuasive and are more effective sellers; leading to the conclusion that physical attractiveness sells. This tactic is being employed here, with Kim herself modeling the fragrance. Kim is quite attractive, and this is paired with her very low cut and revealing dress. Sherman and Quester (2005) found that adverts featuring more nudity increased positive attitudes and greater purchase intentions. Furthermore, whilst talking about Kim’s dress; it’s gold…as is the name of the fragrance. By the theory of association, when we think of gold, we think of wealth, and when we think of wealth we think of power, and who doesn’t want to be wealthy and powerful? We therefore associate ownership of the fragrance with wealth and power. Research by Smith & Engel (1968) supports this idea, with men rating a car as faster, more appealing, more expensive and better designed if it had an attractive female next to it. Lott & Lott (1965) report that if something you like is presented to you with another object, you want the other object as well by association.
So this advert uses physical attractiveness, association, nudity, and social modelling as the main methods of persuasion, with Kim’s face and cleavage dominating the frame. Whilst these have individually all been found to be persuasive techniques, it’s a slightly different story when a celebrity is marketing a product that is their own creation. Perhaps a large contributing factor here is simply how much you like Kim Kardashian.
Bickman, L. (1971). The effect of social status on the honesty of others. The Journal of Social Psychology, 85, 87-92.
Chaiken, S. (1979). Communicator physical attractiveness and persuasion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1387-1397.
Lott, A. J., & Lott, B. E. (1965). Group cohesiveness as interpersonal attraction: A review of relationships with antecedent and variables. Psychological Bulletin, 64, 259-309.
Pratkanis, A. R. (2007). Social influence analysis: An index of tactics. The science of social influence: Advances and future progress, 17-82.
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.
Sherman, C., & Quester, P. (2005). The influence of product/nudity congruence on advertising effectiveness. Journal of Promotion Management, 11, 61-89.
Smith, G. H., & Engel, R. (1968). Influence of a female model on perceived characteristics of an automobile. In Proceedings of the 76th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (Vol. 3, pp. 681-682). Van Nostrand.