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.

Monday, February 3, 2014

I am going to buy a Nikon

Who doesn’t want to capture all their memories in everlasting form? We all have the desire to remember our past times, to capture the moment, crystallising it so that later we can reminisce on times gone by. Nikon take advantage of this desire, playing upon our fascination for recording all that we do, demonstrating how effective their cameras are whilst showing just how many folk, from celebrities to ‘people just like us’, are using them.

Within this advert Nikon cleverly get celebrities to help endorse the product. Jamie Oliver and Robbie Williams are two prominent celebs, with global recognition. The use of celebrities to aid endorsement of a product has been found to be effective. Atkin and Block (1983) looked at alcohol adverts, both with and without a celebrity in them. They found that the celebrity in the advert was perceived to be more trustworthy. As consumers we may therefore be more attracted to Nikon’s products. Jamie Oliver, the rich celebrity that he is, could afford a high end camera that most of us could never hope to. However we see him here using one which all of us can afford, and thus we presume that it must be a great camera, otherwise why would a celebrity go and buy it.

We observe Nikon cameras being used in all of life’s situations, from a marriage, to a toddler walking; we even see astronauts apparently capturing incredible moments all on a Nikon camera. Thus, we are led to believe that this camera is for everyone, from the professional photographer to the casual individual taking the occasional home photo. Here we are presented with a crucial technique. The technique relies on the advert showing us people who perceive to be just like ourselves using Nikon cameras, meaning we are likely to think that this camera is one we should use as people like us are using it. Pratkanis (2000) refers to this as the similarity altercast, stating that we are more likely to comply if we see a similarity between source and the target. Burger, Messian, Patel, del Prado, and Anderson (2004) found that even if we think people are similar to us in incidental ways we are more likely to comply if they make a request. In the advert we are observing ordinary people using Nikons, as opposed to models, and so we are more likely to observe incidental similarities between them and ourselves, consequently increasing the likelihood that we will comply with Nikon’s request and buy their camera.

Imagery sells. We are visual beings, taking in everything we see in our environment. Understanding this, and using it, is a golden technique for advertising. Nikon have clearly done their homework and have utilised this method. Through the advert Nikon sell us not only a camera, but a desirable life style. Realistically not many of us are going to chase after tornados to photograph them, it’s dangerous and arguably completely mad behaviour; but that is irrelevant, as we are all fascinated, and may imagine ourselves as the person that does this.
The imagery in this advert is like a collage of all the things we would aspire to photograph, but realistically will not. However, we see the possibilities of what we could do with this camera, and are convinced. They sell us the possibility of the excitement that can accompany owning a Nikon camera. Gregory, Cialdini and Carpenter (1982) demonstrated that getting individuals to imagine scenarios could be used as a compliance method, as then the subjects would believe the event would happen. So, Nikon get us to imagine taking all these fantastic pictures with our new camera, thus making us believe it’s more likely to happen. Whether we take these fantastic pictures is irrelevant; all Nikon need is for us to believe we will, so we go out and buy their cameras.

Atkin, B., & Martin, B. (1983). Effectiveness of Celebrity Endorsers. Journal of Advertising Research, 23, 57-61.

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
Gregory, L. W., Cialdini, R. B., & Carpenter, K. M. (1982). Self-relevant scenarios as mediators of likelihood estimates and compliance: Does imagining make it so? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43, 89-99.

Pratkanis, A. (2007). The science of social influence: Advances and future progress. Psychology Press, New York, NY.

Aaron Chaloner


  1. Nice article. its true that companies use celebs to advert thier products because they think people follows celebs and thing which they uses. The Recent Nikon COOLPIX P520 18.1 MP captures the eye-catching pictures and has the 18.1 Mega Pixels with full zoom.
    Click on following link to know more features about nikon camera:


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