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.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The cleaner you are, the dirtier you get

The above is an advertisement created for Lynx in 2011 as part of the launch for their new and improved range of shower gels.  The image features a young, attractive female model posing seductively and reads “The cleaner you are, the dirtier you get”.  This raunchy advert, along with five others was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after attracted more than 100 complaints.

The adverts main persuasive technique is liking which is the idea that we tend to comply with the requests of people we like.  The halo effect suggests that if we find someone physically attractive, we will automatically assign other favourable traits to them such as likeable, friendly and intelligent (Langlois et al, 2000).  Therefore, we comply with people we like and we like attractive people.  The attractive model in the advert would encourage men to buy the shower gel as liking levels would be high.  Chaiken (1979) demonstrated this principle by training students to deliver a persuasive message which would be seen by two other students of each sex.  The communicators were photographed and independent judges rated their attractiveness on a 15 point scale.  Results showed that the attractive communicators were more persuasive in changing the opinion of others.

Additionally, juxtaposing the attractive woman and the Lynx shower gel causes people to see the product more favourably.  Smith and Engel (1968) investigated the impact of advertising featuring an attractive female on people’s perceptions of cars. They found that men who saw a car with an attractive female next to it rated the car as more appealing, faster, better designed and more expensive.  Nudity has also been found as an effective way to sell products.  Sherman and Quester (2005) investigated the effects of product/nudity congruence.  They found that adverts for products exhibiting greater congruence with nudity were more effective in creating positive attitudes and greater purchase intentions.

In a nutshell, the effectiveness of the Lynx advert mainly lies in the attractiveness and nudity of the female model.  It is this feature that will sell the shower gel because we like attractive people and are more easily persuaded by them.  Adverts with nudity in them are also more effective at creating positive attitudes for the product.

Amy Bennoson


Chaiken, S. (1979). Communicator physical attractiveness and persuasion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1387-1397.

Langlois, J. H., Kalakanis, L., Rubenstein, A. J., Larson, A., Hallam, M., Smoot, M. (2000). Maxims or myths of beauty? A meta-analytic and theoretical review. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 390-423.

Sherman, C., & Quester, P. (2005). The influence of product/nudity congruence on advertising effectiveness. Journal of Promotion Management, 11, 61-89.

Smith, G., & Engel, R. (1968). Influence of a female model on perceived characteristics of an automobile. Proceedings of the 76th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, 3, 681-682.

1 comment:

  1. You should have mentioned the word 'association' in the third paragraph but outside of that it is well written and well analysed.


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