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.

Monday, January 20, 2014

On the Road to Perfect Skin

This advert for Proactive skincare possibly uses every trick in the book. It starts with the use of a celebrity (Lindsay Lohan) knowing that the audience will instantly want to buy anything that will enable them to look like her. This first tactic is used for a reason; Joseph (1982) declares that physically attractive celebrities can have a positive effect on advertising.

The use of Lindsay Lohan in this advert is an example of social proof. Social proof states that people look to others to try and establish what the correct behaviour is, demonstrated by Bandura, Grusec and Menlove (1967) who found that children who were scared of dogs were more likely to go in a pen with them, after watching others do so. In this advert the creators are using Lindsay to make the audience feel that if this works for her, maybe it can work for them to. As Lindsay sais; “I’m a normal person and I do get zits.” The statement of: Proactive skincare ‘is a best-selling product,’ is also leading the viewer to believe that many other people use it, and thus it is the best one to use.

The advert also uses the technique of Reciprocity. The rule of reciprocity states that we should try to repay a person if they have given something to us. Strohmetz, Rind, Fisher and Lynn (2002) demonstrated that people are more likely to leave a tip if they are given a mint with their bill. This advert adopts this technique, offering a free gift when you purchase their product, thus making the customer more likely to buy the product as they have been offered something in return. This technique is used again by the advertisers towards the end of the advert; ‘Act quickly and receive a free upgrade of priority shipping!’ This doesn’t just use the technique of reciprocity but also uses Scarcity. As humans we have in our head that ‘What’s rare must also be valuable.’ Worchel, Lee and Adeqole (1975) demonstrated this by finding that subjects rated cookies as more attractive when there were only 2 in the jar compared to 10. This technique will make the customer think that the offer is rare and they need to buy the product quickly.  

The advert then ends with the classic rhetorical question ‘What have you got to lose?’  Rhetorical questions can draw attention to the source of the message, resulting in an increase in persuasion (Ahluwalia & Burnkrant, 2004). This last ditch attempt to persuade the viewer is a fitting end to an advert that, from a theoretical point of view, ticks every box.


Ahluwalia, R., & Burnkrant, R.E. (2004). Answering questions about questions: A persuasion knowledge perspective for understanding the effects of rhetorical questions. Journal of Consumer Research, 31, 26-42.

Bandura, A., Grusec, J.E., & Menlove, F.L. (1967). Vicarious extinction of avoidance behaviour. Journal of personality and social psychology, 5, 16-23.

Joseph, W.B. (1982). The Credibility of Physically Attractive Communicators. Journal of Advertising, 11, 13-23.

Strohmetz, D.B., Rind, B., Fisher, R., & Lynn, M. (2002). Sweetening the Till: The use of candy to increase restaurant tipping. Journal of applied social psychology, 32, 300-309.

Worchel, S., Lee, J., & Adewole, A. (1975). Effects of supply and demand on ratings of objective value. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 906-914. 

Laura Clarke

1 comment:

  1. Well done, you packed quite a lot in there! By the way, i think reciprocity requires the salesman to give a gift prior to purchase, rather than following it.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.