Recently, the topic of PayDay Lenders has been hugely controversial, with some people- including the chief executive of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau- arguing they are “immoral”. In addition to Comparison site Uswitch’s survey finding that 45% of people are calling for an outright ban, one wonders what is making their marketing so effective they can get away with charging such insane interests rates (1743%) which people agree to?! In other words, why would someone take out a loan of £100 knowing that, if left, figure would increase to £1734 over 12 months! The main techniques to blame for the persuasiveness of this ad are fear, repetition, similarity altercast and social consensus.
Firstly, the ad uses a fear appeal- linking the negative consequences of no electricity or gas to someone’s poor financial situation, and implying that these negative outcomes could be avoided by taking out one of their loans. Here, the viewer is scared of being caught out in one of these situations, highlighted by the voiceover warning “no-one expects the unexpected”, implying they could find themselves in a similar position at any time. Leventhal (1970) found fear operates as an effective influential device when particular recommendations are also offered for overcoming the fear, and the target believes that they can perform the recommended action. In this case, the viewer is motivated to take out a loan in order to avoid having no money to pay their bills. Furthermore, Ray and Wilkie (1970) found that in many cases of moderate arousal, fear succeeds in heightening drive, resulting in greater interest in the message and the product. Thus, by inciting fear in the viewer QuickQuid are ensuring attention and interest in their advert as well as increasing the likelihood that people will follow their solution and take out a loan, in order to avoid the negative possible circumstances that befall them due to a lack of cash.
The possibility that this could indeed happen to them is heightened by the use of the ‘similarity altercast’- using people who look as ordinary as the viewer, enabling them to relate to and put themselves in a similar situation to that person. This creates a bond between the people in the ad and the target, increasing compliance. This is demonstrated through Baron’s (1971) finding that shared attitudes boosted request compliance, especially with regards to large requests, and Bersceid’s (1966) finding that similarity effectively elevated persuasion through Festinger’s (1954) social comparison process- people look to others’ similar to them in order to form their opinions.
This is a form of social consensus, the notion that the more it seems like everyone else is carrying out a certain behaviour, or reacting in a certain way, the more likely others will join in and act similarly. According to Deutsch and Gerard (1955), two psychological processes promote conformity in this case. It provides social proof about the right way to act, as demonstrated by the presence of canned laughter in tv shows causing audiences to laugh harder and for longer (Axsom et al, 1987). It also provides normative influences- as people feel pressure to follow the group. Asch’s (1951) findings supported this, as over half of his subjects chose a clearly incorrect line in a perceptual task in order to fit in with the group. Thus, viewers are likely to turn to QuickQuid as a solution to their problems, as it seems to be how everyone else deals with the situation.
Finally, the advert repeats ‘QuickQuid’ A LOT, as well as the word ‘quick’ and the image of their site details, in order to reinforce the main point that they offer a quick and easy solution- even showing how and where to sign up. This works on immediacy, tapping into the ‘impulse buying’ mentality, especially relevant for the target audience as Hollingshead (1949) and Whyte (1943) found that the failure to learn effective impulse control is more prevalent among the lower classes. Multiple repetitions of a message have been proven to increase acceptance of communication- Zajonc (1968) showing that the liking of an object is strengthened through increased exposure and Broehm (1994) demonstrating that repeated messages are perceived as more valid.
Thus, although objectively the service and interest rates provided by QuickQuid may seem to some ‘immoral’, we have gotta’ give credit to their fantastic marketing.
-Asch, S. E. (1951). Effects of group pressure upon the modification and distortion of judgments. In H.
Guetzkow (Ed.), Groups, leadership, and men. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Press.
-Axsom, D., Yates, S., & Chaiken, S. (1987). Audience response as a heuristic cue in persuasion.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 30–40.
-Baron, R. A. (1971). Aggression as a function of magnitude of victim’s pain cues, level of prior anger arousal and aggressor-victim similarity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 18, 48-54
-Berscheid, E. (1966) Opinion change and communicator-communicatee similarity and dissimiliarity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4, 670-680.
-Boehm, L. E. (1994). The validity effect- a search for mediating variables. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 20, 285-293.
-Deutsch, M., & Gerard, H. (1955). A study of normative and informational social influences upon individual judgement. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 51, 629-636.
-Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. Human Relations, 7, 11 A Meta-Analysis of Humor Effects in Advertising, 7-140.
-Hollingshead, A. B. (1949) Elmtown’s Youth. New York: Wiley.
-Leventhal, H. (1971). Fear appeals and persuasion: the differentiation of a motivational construct. American Journal of Public Health, 61(6), 1208-1224.
-Ray, M. L., & W. L. Wilkie. (1970). Fear: The Potential of an Appeal Neglected by Marketing. Journal of Marketing 34, 54-61.
-Whyte, W. (1943) Street Corner Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
-Zajonc, R. B. (1968). Attitudinal effects of mere exposures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 9, 1–27