Compare the Market is a well-known insurance company, synonymous with the use of Meerkats in their adverts. Associating a company or a product with something that is widely liked such as cute, talking Meerkats is a popular tool among profiteers. Research has shown that pairing something likeable makes people more likely to view the product positively. Gorn (1982) examined the influence of music in advertising on preferences using a classical conditioning approach. Results showed that exposure to attractive or unattractive music whilst being presented with a product directly affected choice behaviours. This demonstrates how influential popular stimuli can be on attitudes to the associated product.
An additional exploitative measure taken by Compare the Market is the social proof principle stating that we determine how to act by observing other people’s behaviour (Lun, Sinclair, Whitchurch, & Glenn, 2007). A crucial condition of this is similarity; by using ‘normal people’ in advertising, viewers are more likely to comply as they can relate with them. Steve Smith, a typical office-goer is portrayed at his desk with a cup of tea looking relatively bored, a situation many people can identify with. Numerous studies have demonstrated the effect of similarity on behaviour; one example showed that by just dressing similarly to participants, researcher’s requests for a dime to make a phone call were fulfilled over 60% of the time whereas when dressed differently they were given a dime in less than 50% of instances (Emswiller, Deaux, & Willits, 1971). Thus, showing Steve in typical workplace attire is an effective technique to increase sales for Compare the Market as viewers are likely to familiarize with him.
Burger, J. M., Ehrlichman, A. M., Raymond, N. C., Ishikawa, J. M., & Sandoval, J. (2006). Reciprocal favor exchange and compliance. Social Influence, 1, 169-184.
Emswiller, T., Deaux, K., & Willits, J. E. (1971). Similarity, sex, and requests for small favors. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 1, 284-291.
Gorn, G. J. (1982). The Effects of Music In Advertising On Choice Behavior: A Classical Conditioning Approach. Journal of Marketing, 46, 94–101.
Lun, J., Sinclair, S., Whitchurch, E. R., Glenn, C. (2007). (Why) do I think what you think? Epistemic social tuning and implicit prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 957-972.