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, January 21, 2015

Quickest way to Number 1?

Howard Brown- The First, My Last, My Everything

This advertisement provides an example of how through exposure to a wide audience can unsurprisingly increase popularity of either a product or a brand, but additionally how auditory stimuli i.e. the music used, can become of interest and hold notoriety. People often remember advertisements with a catchy tune or a jingle, whether they intend to or not it is implanted in our minds. For example, we all know the 'Go Compare' song, whether we're in need of comparing insurance or not, its an undoubtedly difficult-to-forget service.

There are several examples of both known and unknown artists being propelled to the top of the charts due to their music being featured on an advertisement. For example, Howard Brown, who was featured on the DLKW Halifax campaign advertisement, was initially unknown as he was simply a former customer representiative at Halifax. However, the song he covered on the advert known as 'You're the First, the Last, My Everything' rocketed up the charts to number 13 in the UK purely through being promoted on this advert. Additionally, due to the high demand Howard Brown was offered a cameo role in The Office 2013's Christmas Special. People like familiarity and those they can relate to. Howard Brown was unknown before his debut advertisement, though people bought into the idea of him, probably even more so, because he could be me or you. A persuasive technique involves the use of a relatable message giver- we are likely to listen to what they are selling us because we deem to be like them and therefore must benefit from the service also.

A study conducted by Waugh (2011) looked into the download habits of 142 participants. In particular, the participants were asked whether they had downloaded a song or purchased a CD following hearing the song on an advertisement.

As seen in the above figure 63% of participants, surveyed by Waugh (2011), admitted they have downloaded a song upon hearing it on an advertisement, highlighting the effect this promotion has on sales figures for these artists. However, many of these bands that spark success through being featured on an advertisement are commonly 'one hit wonders' and the stigma around this may affect certain artists willingness to be featured.

       There has been additional research that looks into different music genres used in films and the influence this combination has on character likability, conducted by Hoeckner, Wyatt, Decety, & Nusbaum (2011). There were 3 music conditions: Melodramatic, Thriller and No Music. The effect of music conditions significantly differed from the No Music condition: compared to melodramatic music, thriller music significantly lowered likability of the character in the scene. There were 3 groups of participants (N=32) for each condition who watched movie clips with the correspondent condition music type. After watching the clips the participants were distributed a sliding bar scale questionnaire. For the likability question responses ranged from 'Very Unlikeable' to 'Very Likeable.'  

The above bar chart shows that participants were more favourable of characters they saw whilst in the Melodramatic condition compared with the Thriller condition.

In conclusion, the use of music can have a strong persuasive influential affect onto how the audience reacts to them. The study provides evidence that film music can influence likability, these results are likely to be consistent with advertisement music too. It's likely that consumers are convinced and persuaded into purchasing products due to the manipulation of music. Further research is needed to analyse such hypothesis.

Hoeckner, B., Wyatt, E. W., Decety, J., & Nusbaum, H. (2011). Film music influences how viewers relate to movie characters.Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 5(2), 146-153. doi: 

Waugh, J. (2011). Does advertising shape or reflect popular culture? . [ONLINE] Available at: [Last Accessed 20th January 2015]. 

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