This advert, created in 2012, rides on the hype of the London Olympics. It is part of a government campaign designed to encourage people to drink milk as part of a healthy diet. It depicts Jade Jones, Laura Trott and Nicola Adams who won gold medals in Taekwondo, cycling and boxing respectively. I personally hate milk but let’s see if I can be persuaded otherwise!
The advert uses two of Cialdini’s (1984) principles of advertising; liking and authority. Liking of the sportswomen depicted is induced via the modes of contact and cooperation. Contact or familiarity was found by Zajonc (1968) to increase positive attitudes towards a person or object in what he coined ‘the mere exposure effect’. He demonstrated this in various tasks including asking participants to view various Chinese characters and then getting them to decide whether they meant positive or negative adjectives. They were more likely to guess positive if they had seen the character frequently before. This advert uses celebrities to create the feeling of familiarity. We have seen their faces around a lot, especially in the climate of the Olympics and as a result, we are more likely to view them favourably and consequently be persuaded by them.
The second mode of liking, cooperation, sees the advert capitalise on the ‘Olympic spirit’ in Britain at the time of the games. We saw everyone come together and support the country with the shared goal of Olympic gold medals. Cooperation increases liking, as demonstrated by Sherif and Sherif (1953) in their summer camp study. They showed that when two conflicting groups of boys had to work together to push their bus back to the camp, they got on better and conflict was reduced.
The other of Cialdini’s (1984) principles used is authority. He suggests that we are more likely to be persuaded by someone if they hold some authority over us. Here authority has been elicited in two ways. The first is their expert knowledge. If someone has achieved a gold medal in their sport then you know they are an expert. For example; Hofling and colleagues (1966) demonstrated that simply the title ‘Dr’ made nurses blindly follow instructions under the belief a Doctor is more knowledgeable than them. Secondly, uniforms create a sense of authority. For example, Jade Jones’ Black belt clearly suggests her superiority. Uniforms alone can increase persuasion as was demonstrated by Bickman (1974). People in the street were more likely to comply with the requests of the same man if he was dressed as a guard compared to when he was dressed as a milkman or civilian. I can certainly relate to this myself. I do Taekwondo and the mere mention of a black belt, without fail, provokes the response; “Oh, I better be nice to you then!” as if I am some crazy, unstable maniac! So come to think about it, maybe not the effect that the advertisers were going for.
Humour is another technique used in this advert to persuade the vitamin deficient reader to have a glass of milk. The moustache on top of their upper lip, I personally found comical. This is a common persuasive technique used in advertising (well, not the tash specifically). However a recent review by Weinberger and Gulas (1992) suggests that humour is not more effective than non-humour at persuading directly. However, an element of humour attracts attention and can increase liking for the product. Through these two avenues, a humorous addition can facilitate persuasion.
Furthermore, Goldenberg and colleagues (1999) posit that effectively persuasive adverts use a creativity template. This advert uses the completion template meaning that it depicts the product beating other similar products. In other words, this advert attempts to insinuate that the drinking of milk has led the competitors to win gold in their respective sports, thereby beating all the inferior athletes who had toast for breakfast. Ironically I still hate milk, but none the less, an effective advert.
Bickman, L. (1974). The Social Power of a Uniform. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 4, 47-61.
Cialdini, R. B. (1984). The psychology of persuasion. New York: Quill William Morrow.
Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D., & Solomon, S. (1999). The fundamental templates of quality ads. Marketing Science, 18, 333-351.
Sherif, M., & Sherif, C. W. (1953). Groups in harmony and tension; an integration of studies of intergroup relations. Oxford: Harper & Brothers.
Weinberger, M. G., & Gulas, C. S. (1992). The impact of humor in advertising: A review. Journal of Advertising, 21, 35-59.
Zajonc, R. B. (1968). Attitudinal effects of mere exposure. Journal of personality and social psychology, 9, 1-27.