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

You better help "Save the Tigers"

Almost a century ago there were 40,000 tigers only in India. World over nature lovers were shocked when the Census report of 2008 revealed that the tiger population in India had dwindled to a mere 1411. Illegal poaching and urbanization was blamed for the loss. Conservationists demanded stricter enforcement of the laws and for this they needed to gain the support of the people who were unaware of the problem. It was then that the ‘Save Our Tiger’ campaign was created. Multiple mediums were used to spread awareness through numerous persuasive advertisements were created.

In this advertisement several techniques were used. A celebrity cricketer M.S. Dhoni (the captain of the Indian cricket team) was made to talk about the campaign. Testimonials by celebrities grab attention and exert influence due to their familiarity, attractiveness, trustworthiness and likeability (Ohanian 1991). It is extremely likely that M.S. Dhoni one of India’s most influential people (Times of India ,2010) and most loved sportsman can persuade the Indian population to do something by using the personal quote “ I wont let that happen, that’s why I’m joining the Aircel save our tigers initiative.”  This simple quote is based on the principle of “social proof” as through “I wont let that happen” people watching the advertisement become aware that wanting to save tigers and demanding stronger law enforcement is the “correct” and socially acceptable attitude of the people.

The advertisement is based on statistical data published in the Census report of India (2008) and according to Petty and Cacioppo (1979) using statistics in messages makes the message more believable and people tend to spend more time thinking about the message. The advertisement in fact stresses on the number “1411” as they use the principle of repetition. Repeating information in advertisements leads to greater levels of cognitive responding more enduring ad attitudes and better recall of messages and advertisements (MacInnis et al, 1991).

As fear and threat increases messages become more persuasive (Dillard & Anderson,2004). Perhaps one of the strongest persuasion techniques this advertisement involves is fear paired with national identity. The fact that they mention the tiger as being the “national animal” and the thought of it disappearing is something that will grab the attention of almost any nature lover or any person who identifies with the construct of national pride.

On the whole the advertisement is short and simple yet extremely persuasive in more ways than one. It caused an uproar in India and people demanded better conservation laws. However it wasn’t only the tigers that benefited. Just in case any one missed the massive Aircel (one of the many telecom companies in India) logo right at the end. 


Dillard, J. P., & Anderson, J. W. (2004). The role of fear in persuasion. Psychology & Marketing, 21, 909-926

MacInnis, D. J., Moorman, C., & Jaworski, B. J. (1991). Enhancing and measuring consumers' motivation, opportunity, and ability to process brand information from ads. Journal of Marketing, 55, 32-53. R

Ohanian, Roobina (1990), “Construction and Validation of a Scale to Measure Celebrity Endorsers’ Perceived Expertise, Trustworthiness, and Attractiveness,” Journal of Advertising, 19, 39–52.
Petty, R. E. and Cacioppo, J. T. (1979), "Issue-involvement Can Increase or Decrease Persuasion by Enhancing Message-Relevant Cognitive Responses," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1915-1926.

Akshay Shah

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