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


This advert for Johnson & Johnson’s flexible Band-Aid’s (I’m just going to say plasters) uses Marvel’s fictional character, The Incredible Hulk, as its hand model.

Why have they used the Hulk? This ad is an example of the Extreme Situation Template in advertising (Goldenberg, Mazursky & Solomon, 1999), where consumer’s attention is grabbed by deliberately highlighting the key attributes of a product, which, in this case, is how flexible the plasters are. They’re so flexible that they can withstand the expansion in the size of the Hulk’s fingers when he transforms from human to superhero. It’s obviously an unrealistic situation as no-one is capable of turning into the Hulk.

The High Status Admirer Altercast is being employed here. The Hulk is a fictional celebrity (Genter, 2007; Jain, 2011). He’s not real, but we all know and understand the basic concept that when he gets angry he transforms from a human into a giant green monster. Therefore, as he is publicly known, he counts as a fictional celebrity. Pughazhendi, Thirunavukkarasu & Susendiran (2011) report that consumer’s attitude towards a product is heavily influenced by the endorsement of a celebrity, and celebrities can be used to both gain attention and maintain sales (Tom et al., 1999).

The persuasive tactic of social modeling is also being employed, with the Hulk as our source of social proof. Having observed that the Hulk would use Johnson & Johnson’s flexible plasters (if he were real, or ever needed them - which he shouldn’t as he’s supposed to be resistant to injury), we are more likely to buy them as we imitate our models, especially when they are of a high social status, such as being a celebrity (Pratkanis, 2007).

So, having used social modeling and the admirer altercast to try and persuade us to buy the product, is it effective? I believe it is. I quite want the plasters just because I the advert made me giggle. Perhaps the plasters are made of the same material as the Hulk’s trousers, which seem to be very flexible and resilient.

Genter, R. (2007). “With great power comes great responsibility”: Cold war culture and the birth of Marvel comics. The Journal of Popular Culture, 40, 953-978.

Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D., & Solomon, S. (1999). The fundamental templates of quality ads. Marketing Science, 18, 333-351.

Jain, V. (2011). Celebrity endorsement and it’s impact on sales: A research analysis carried out in India. Global Journal of Management And Business Research, 11, 69-84.

Pratkanis, A. R. (2007). Social influence analysis: An index of tactics. The science of social influence: Advances and future progress, 17-82.

Pughazhendi, A., Thirunavukkarasu, R., & Susendiran, S. (2011) A Study on Celebrity Based Advertisements on the Purchase Attitude of Consumers towards Durable Products in Coimbatore city, Tamil Nadu, India. Far East Journal of Marketing and Management, 1, 16-27.

Tom, G., Clark, R., Elmer, L., Grech, E., Masetti, J., & Sandhar, H. (1992). The use of created versus celebrity spokespersons in advertisements". Journal of Consumer Marketing, 9, 45 – 51.

Felicity Ang

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