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.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Would you say "no" to Big George?

When we consider the number of adverts that are thrusted in our faces daily, it is easy to see why we can switch off during an ad break. So, how do companies convince us that we really do need a new ironing board cover, or a pair of tweezers with a light on? Easy. They fill their commercials with a variety persuasive weapons that make you think that your life would be incomplete without that product, and this advert for the Lean, Mean, Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine is a heavy weight champion in doing just that.

Firstly, the legend that is George Foreman is the face of the brand. The use of celebrity endorsements is commonplace in TV adverts, but why is it so successful? As social beings, we are constantly looking to others to know what the correct behaviour is, (LatanĂ© & Darley, 1968). Moreover, we perceive celebrities to hold a higher status than our own and wish to be like them; Pratkanis (2007) labelled this the ‘high status-admirer altercast’. In other words, when we see a celebrity using a product, we automatically assume that that product is worth having, otherwise, why would they associate themselves with it? “But what does boxing have to do with grilling?” I hear you cry! Not a lot, however, apparently this is not important! Fleck, Michel & Zeitoun (2013) found that as long as consumers could imagine the celebrity using the product that was enough to influence their decision. If George was endorsing L’Oreal shampoo, we wouldn’t buy it, whereas George probably does eat meat and would require a grill.

Secondly, this advert uses a tactic known as the ‘that’s-not-all’ technique, (Burger, 1986). Burger found that compliance could be increased by making consumers believe they are getting a better deal before they have the opportunity to respond to the initial offer. In the advert above, when you buy the grilling machine, you are also getting a spatula, 2 grease trays, a bun warmer, a cook book and a $20 steak certificate – all for $19.99 instead of $60! Total bargain! The idea behind this is that the consumer then feels like they are being given something for free and by the unwritten rules of reciprocity, then feels obligated to do something in return – i.e. buy the product, (Cialdini & Goldstein, 2002; Pollock et al., 1998). Reciprocity seems to be ingrained in us and is just something we experience when someone does us a favour, (like when you offer someone a mint and they then feel obliged to offer you something in return).

Via a combination of social proofing methods, authority and reciprocity, we see this advert and want to buy a grill. More importantly, George wants you to buy a grill and would you really say no to a two-time Heavy Weight Champion?

Katherine Baylis


Burger, J. M. (1986). Increasing compliance by improving the deal: The that’s-not-all technique. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 2, 277-283.

Cialdini, R. B. & Goldstein, N. J. (2002). The science ad practice of persuasion. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, 43, 40-50.

Fleck, N., Michel, G. & Zeitoun, V. (2013). Brand personification through the use of spokespeople: An exploratory study of ordinary employees, CEOs, and celebrities featured in advertising. Psychology & Marketing, 31, 1, 84-92.

Latané, B., & Daley, J. M. (1968). Bystander intervention in emergencies: Diffusion of responsibility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 8, 377-383.

Pollock CL, Smith SD, Knowles ES, Bruce HJ. 1998. Mindfulness limits compliance with the that's-not-all technique. Personal. Soc. Psychol. Bull. 24:1153–57

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.

1 comment:

  1. One of my favourites, i didn't say no to George.


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