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.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Is it worth it?

We're subjected to celebrities everyday, on Instagram, Facebook, in magazines, on TV...they're everywhere. Attractive and well-liked celebrities in today's society are used to endorse so many products. L'Oreal is one brand that successfully does this, with its slogan 'because you're worth it,' attractive celebrities endorsing their products that consumers aspire to be similar to are some of the ways its manages to increase its brand image using celebrities. 

Celebrity endorsed products offer things that products endorsed by models or unknown people do not. McCraken (1989) demonstrates this process through the meaning transfer model, consisting of 3 stages (figure 1). The 1st stage is that celebrities are more powerful and they offer lifestyle meanings which results in a more vivid meaning transfer from the product to the consumer. Stage 2 involves capturing the most salient meanings from the celebrity that are specific to the endorsement. The aim of this stage being that the consumer sees that they are similar to the celebrity. The final stage involves the consumer purchasing the product, and using the meanings they’ve elicited from it to build themselves (the self the celebrity has helped to create).

Figure 1: Meaning Transfer Model (Mccracken, 1989)

'Liking' which is one of Cialdini's (2009) weapons of social influence provides a perfect explanation as to why celebrity endorsements have an effect on consumers. Three factors of 'liking' have an effect on consumers behaviour: association, attractiveness and similarity. The adverts that take all these factors and effectively persuade consumers are the L'Oreal adverts, which feature well known and liked, attractive celebrities such as Cheryl Cole and  Beyonce. Additionally, each advert features the tag line 'because you're worth it.'  Having a universally loved celebrity read that tag line to millions of young teens and adults watching TV every day, will have such a profound effect as it'll make them feel special and gives them the impression they are part of the in-group. It complements the consumer and makes them feel good about themselves, which as Cialdini teaches us, results in a higher percentage of us saying 'yes!'

L'Oreal Advert

Chaiken (1979) demonstrated that communicators that are more physically attractive are more persuasive at changing people attitudes (figure 2). The results show that attractive people in this study were also viewed as more friendly and a more credible source. Cialdini also states attractive people are seen to be kinder, more honest and intelligent. With these factors all being linked to attractiveness, it is no wonder why L'Oreal uses the celebrities it does as they are all viewed as very physically attractive to the public. Humans naturally like and are drawn to attractive things. Using well-liked and attractive celebrity will result in the consumer genuinely believing that the celebrity both likes and used the product. If we also believe that they're intelligent, we believe that they know the product is good. Attractive people are successful at changing others attitudes which is why L'Oreal uses the celebrities it does. 

Figure 2: Attractive people are better persuaders (Chaiken, 1979)

One aspect of 'liking' is association, we see a well-know celebrity adverting a product, and we then associate the celebrity with liking that product. If we like the celebrity then there's a high chance that we are going to like the product too. Figure 2 demonstrates the effect Cheryl Cole had on L'Oreals at the time she was judge on 'The X Factor.' Cheryl was well-loved and trusted by the nation; the brand were aware of this and her endorsement both increased L'Oreal's buzz and general impression score. 

Figure 3: Effect of Cheryl Cole's L'Oreal Advert on impression of the brand (Mediaweekcouk, 2016)

Another factor - similarity. We desire to be like the celebrities in these adverts, consumers want to know about their lifestyle, the products they use and the clothes they wear.We want to be similar, therefore we are more likely to say yes to a product they endorse without thinking. The meaning transfer model also shows us similarity is a key factor in getting the consumer to purchase the product. The consumer believes they will be more like Cheryl by purchasing L'Oreal due to the meanings she transmits in her endorsements and so sales increase. 

When brands properly use celebrities with mass popularity and high attractiveness, they will successfully increase sales prices and well as drawing more attention to their brand. This process is completed by transferring meaning from a celebrity, to the endorsed product and then to the consumer. 

Why do we believe them? They are believed to be a credible source, so consumers will pay more attention to them and importantly, will desire to have what they have. Consumers believe they will be similar to them if they buy the product through a transfer of meanings. And lastly, they make us all feel like we’re worth it!

Chaiken, S. (1979). Communicator Physical Attractiveness and Persuasion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.37, 1387-1397.

Cialdini, R.B. (2009). Liking: The Friendly Thief. In Cialdini,, R.B (Ed), Influence: Science and Practice (pp. 141-172). United States of America: Pearson Education, Inc.

Mccracken, G. (1989). Who is the Celebrity Endorser? Cultural Foundations of the Endorsement Process. Journal of consumer research, 16, 310-321.

Mediaweekcouk. (2016). Mediaweekcouk. Retrieved 4 February, 2016, from

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