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, February 6, 2014

Cake + Car = Definite Favourite

Cake, cars and Julie Andrews – a few of MY favourite things (I kid you not, cake was breakfast this morning). Whoever thought of combining the three is an absolute genius and is certainly in my good books. But I’m pretty sure Skoda’s demographic isn’t just one person who’d love if desserts were mains and can’t even drive, so they’ve used a few persuasive techniques to broaden this demographic.

The most powerful one is that of liking through association. They use three things – cake (it’s linked to celebration and positive emotions), Julie Andrews (a quality actress and one of the best of her time) and a song from The Sound of Music (a brilliant song from a brilliant movie). Three of these together imply happiness, quality and positive emotions and associating these with Skoda at a time when their reputation was plummeting helped regain it. In a 1930s research experiment, Gregory Razran found that politicians rated political statements higher if they were eating food at the time, merely because the positive qualities of the food transferred onto the statements (Razran, 1938)! So there’s proof that food is incredible and can get people to do what you want them to do. We like cake, and after this ad, we also like Skoda. Clever.  

They sell the car even more by adding Julie Andrew’s voice to the mix. Having her sing ‘my favourite things’ in the background, along with the positive lyrics of the song, makes us like the car more. Celebrities like Julie Andrews usually have a high status and people tend to admire them and want to be like them. Hearing her sing about her favourite things while watching a car being made out of cake, makes it seem like this could also be one of her favourites. And if she likes it, so should we! This is the high status-admirer altercast technique which was shown in an experiment by Lefkowitz and colleagues (1995) where people would copy someone jaywalking more if they were wearing a suit (implies high status) rather than if they were wearing jeans. Similarly, because Julie Andrews has a high status, we’re likely to copy her and also include Skodas to our list of favourites.

I just really want a Skoda. I mean, cake.


Lefkowitz, M., Blake, R. R., & Mouton, J. S. (1955). Status factors in pedestrian violation of traffic signals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 704 – 706.

Razran, G.H.S. (1938). Conditioning away social bias by the luncheon technique. Psychological Bulletin, 37, 481.

Geetanjali Basarkod

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