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.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Air Pollution? You May As Well Just Shoot Yourself

This advert by the NRDC (National Resources Defense Council) aims to warn individuals about the potential dangers of air pollution. The image of the gun along the side of the building, likening the chimney to the barrel of the gun, produces a clear analogy – air pollution can be just as deadly as guns; if you’re letting out tonnes of smoke and pollutants you may as well be firing out bullets.

This type of Pictorial Analogy is one of the examples that Goldenberg, Mazursky and Soloman (1999) describe in their list of creativity templates. The basic premise is that a particular message is linked to a particular product or idea via the use of symbols. There is said to be a scheme consisting of the product space (components of the product and related objects or concepts) and the symbols set (objects that are representative of the intended message). These two factors are then connected by a linking operator which matches a specific feature of the product to a specific symbol. This is demonstrated in the diagram below:

In this case, the product space would be the issue of air pollution and the related components might be things such as factories, car exhausts and smoke. The message conveyed is one of danger or possible death. The symbol set used to convey this message could be images of diseased lungs, dying animals or in this case, a gun. For this advert, the linking operator matches the smoke being produced to the symbol of the gun, creating the image of a gun letting off large amount of pollution.


Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D., & Solomon, S. (1999). The fundamental template of quality ads. Marketing Science, 18(3), 333-351.

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