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.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Moses got the booty.


No offence intended to any Christians reading this (that includes you, Mother!) but I reckon if Moses had worn a bikini, he'd have gotten his message across a lot quicker than by crashing parties and shouting, 'let my people go' when all the Egyptians were trying to have a good time. However, as you may have noticed, this isn't a picture of Moses - it's an advert for Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen.

The first person to analyse this ad pointed out its use of the extreme consequences creativity template (Goldenberg, Mazursky and Salomon, 1999): it enhances the product's tagline, 'extreme waterproof', by suggesting the product is powerful enough to part the ocean. They also pointed out the use of a 'beautiful natural environment' and an 'attractive model' to make the advert attention-grabbing.

Let's talk about that attractive model, shall we?

Using attractive people makes use of the liking principle (Cialdini, 2001) - we buy from people we like, and we like people who are attractive. This halo effect means that the attractive female model passes on her good assets (yes, that's assets, get your mind out of the gutter) to the product, making it seem of higher quality, as well as making the consumer like the ad more. This feeds into the liking principle again, so we like the ad and are more likely to remember it and to buy the product it features (Baker & Churchill Jr., 1977).

Maybe you went 'huh?' when you first read the title of this post, because the religious subtext may not be so obvious to you. Believe me, it's there, and it's there in many other adverts too (Moore, 2005), although no one's quite worked out what effect it has on the consumer yet. Maybe, like the halo effect, it's just about sharing attributes: it suggests that like the model, the Moses stand-in, you too will have the divine power to repel water, as well as tacitly suggesting that you will have the power, full stop. Maybe it's about anchoring the advert in a culture-relevant, Western religion-themed situation to make it more relevant to its audience. For those in the know, the religious subtext adds humour to this advert. For those who went 'huh?', you'll probably still be sucked in by this ad's other techniques.

To summarise: Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen means you can repel water with the power of a prophet, or at least with the power of a hot girl in a bikini.

  • Baker, M. J., & Churchill Jr., G. A. (1977). The impact of physically attractive models on advertising evaluations. Journal of Marketing Research, 14, 538–555.
  • Cialdini, R. B. (2001). Influence: Science and practice. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
  • Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D., & Solomon, S. (1999). The fundamental templates of quality ads. Marketing Science, 18, 333–351.
  • Moore, R. C. (2005). Spirituality that sells: Religious imagery in magazine advertising. Advertising & Society Review, 6.

Isobel Hall

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