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.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Western Famers Rapping in Yeo Valley

This famous music video lunched on YouTube in 2008 is one of the adverts from UK organic dairy brand Yeo Valley. It has been remembered by a lot of people due to its novelty and use of persuasive techniques.

One of the crucial persuasion techniques used in this ad is the principle of “liking”. In the ad, four farmers who are unashamedly passionate about Yeo Valley’s organic dairy products are shown rapping inside the barns, out in the grass with the cows, in tractors and eating Yeo Valley Organic yogurt. We feel like taking an immersive journey into the real Yeo Valley. All the familiar scenes of a British farm trigger favorable impression since we tend to like things that are familiar to us, or that we contact more often (Monahan et al, 2000). Normal people but not celebrities act in the ad. Here the concept of “similarity” is applied. We tend to like people who are similar to us (Burger et al, 2004).  The happy farmers and cows along with a harmony nature view portray a positive and relaxing scene. “Association” technique works here. We tend to associate ourselves with positive things, and distance ourselves from negative things. For example, Rosen and Tesser (1970) found that students giving good news to someone would say “you just got a phone call with great news" while those breaking bad news would say “you got a phone call”.

Furthermore, Yeo Valley’s marketing strategy also makes use of another persuasive technique—“social proof”. Firstly, the lyrics such us “Check out Daisy she's a proper cow, a pedigree Fresian with know how. Her and her girls they got their own names. We treat them good, they give us the cream.” and “Harmony in nature takes precedence.” indicate the company’s humanized concern about the animals and the environment. Therefore we feel responsible to buy organic products like this for  sustainable living and better environment. We tend to behave according to social norms to get social proof. Secondly, the scene where the famers are eating Yeo Valley Organic yogurt has a “similarity” effect: we refer to others’ actions to decide proper behavior for ourselves, especially when we view those others as similar to ourselves (Park, 2001). Therefore people may want to buy the product since similar people are eating it.

In addition, organic dairy is believed to be healthier and relatively scare. The scarcity principle of persuasion plays a role in this ad since people usually do mental shortcuts that products with less availability are of better quality. This is evidenced by Knishinsky’s (1980) study finding that customers told that the product was scarce, bought 6 times more than whose who received a standard sales pitch.

Carl Hovland's "Message Learning Theory" posits that the more people learn and remember from an ad, the more persuasive the ad will be. Practical guidelines suggested by message learning theory include, for example, that repetition of message increases learning. In the rap, the brand name and their slogan are repeated for several times so that people remember them implicitly.


Burger, J. M., Messian, N., Patel, S., del Prado, A., & Anderson, C. (2004). What a coincidence! The effects of incidental similarity on compliance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin , 30, 35-43.

Cialdini, R. B. (2009). Influence The Psychology of Persuasion. HarperCollins e-books. UK: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

Monahan, J. L., Murphy, S. T., & Zajonc, R. B. (2000). Subliminal mere exposure: Specific, general, and diffuse effects. Psychological Science , 11, 462-466.

Pratkanis, A. R. (Ed.). (2007). Social influence analysis: An index of tactics. The science of social influence: Advances and future progress. New York: Psychology Press.

Yinan Wang

1 comment:

  1. Good attempt, some of your arguments need a more thorough explanation e.g. you talk about association without saying how it is used.


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