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.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

i'm lovin' it

No promise of sales, celebrity endorsements or even delicious tasting food in this ad. It is purely a giant order of McDonald's to the face. And it is exactly that, the sheer simplicity of this ad that makes it so accessible. Oftentimes people will remember particular advertisements because they were humorous or demonstrated a good degree of creativity. This particular advertisement manages to achieve this same effect and more.

This ad makes use of an existing pedestrian road crossing. Cleverly placed, the location is familiar and acts as a funnel where ALL passersby must cross in order to cross the road. The location is a mundane and familiar route to its users, so it doesn’t take professor to recognise that what was black and white lines yesterday is now a giant order of fries (Cialdini, 2001). I'd say the mere contrast between the dull grey street and this striking red and yellow masterpiece would be enough to distract any walker-by. By adding a bit of fun to people's humdrum corpse-like drag to work, this ad will be more memorable and received with greater positive regard (Sundar & Kim, 2005).

The simplicity of this ad works in tandem with the short attention span of pedestrians. On their way to work, they all they are probably thinking of is “Walk. As quickly as possible. Don't get run over.” all of these thoughts fit well with this advertisement because the message is still conveyed with minimal effort from the target. The iconic red and yellow 'M' that we all know to be synonymous with McDonald's is the key because, not much else is present or even necessary. This ad aims to achieve one thing only; to increase the thought of having a meal at McDonald's - and thats it. Research has shown that by just making someone think of something more they are more likely to act based on this thought (MacLeod & Campbell, 1992). So by simply making you think of McDonald's, you are already more likely to decide to eat at McDonalds for lunch as compared to other shops because it readily comes to mind. Such mental shortcuts are commonplace, especially in the midst of a busy work environment where you don’t want to spend all that extra effort trying to think of where/what to eat. Take home message: in the city less is definitely more.


Cialdini, R. B. 2001. Influence: Science and practice. 4th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

MacLeod, C; Campbell, L. (1992). "Memory accessibility and probability of judgements:An experimental evaluation of the availability heuristic". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 63 (6): 890–902

Sundar, S. S., & Kim, J. (2005). Interactivity and persuasion: Influencing attitudes with information and involvement. Journal of Interactive Advertising,5(2), 6-29.

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