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 25, 2016

It’s the MOST important meal of the day! And that’s not all…

This advert aims to convince the audience, specifically those with children, of the importance of eating a daily breakfast. By highlighting a multitude of benefits of this choice, the advert encourages adults to ensure that their children eat breakfast in order to improve their school performance, and indeed to improve their own health.

To persuade people to eat breakfast daily, I used a variety of persuasion techniques. The advert most notably employs the “That’s-Not-All” (TNA) compliance technique, introduced by Burger (1986.) By indicating that eating breakfast will not only improve their children’s grades, cognitive function and school attendance, but also will help reduce obesity, cholesterol, blood pressure and increase strength and endurance, the audience is subjected to a variation the TNA technique. Demonstrated via 7 experiments, Burger (1986) suggests this works because the customer sees the salesperson as entering into a negotiation by offering an additional product. With each addition, the audience feels and increasing obligation to reciprocate by engaging in the behaviour.

Furthermore, the advert also uses a fear endorsement technique. The advert may elicit panic in the reader over their child skipping breakfast, fearing that they will do poorly in school and cause negative consequences to their health. As a result, parents will be inclined to engage in the behaviour. The fear appeal triggers an emotional response, it creates tension and anxiety, causing people to seek ways to reduce these feelings (LaTour & Zahra, 1988). Consequently, marketers use fear to generate interest in a product and, in this case, a behavioural choice.

Burnett and Wilkes (1980) provide evidence for this technique. They used health care brochures that varied in fear inducing properties to assess whether fear appeals were a viable advertising strategy. They discovered that subjects in the higher fear level condition produced more favourable attitudes towards their local health maintenance organization.

Therefore, by implementing these techniques, the advert aims to persuade adults to engage in eating breakfast on a daily basis for both their own and their child’s benefit. After all, it is the most important meal of the day!


Burger, J. M. (1986). Increasing compliance by improving the deal: The that’s-not-all technique. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51(2), 277-283.

Burnett, J. J., & Wilkes, R. E. (1980). Fear appeals to segments only. Journal of Advertising Research, 20, 21-24.

LaTour, M. S., & Zahra, S. A. (1988). Fear appeals as advertising strategy: Should they be used? Journal of Services Marketing, 2, 5-14. 

Rampersaud, G. C., Pereira, M. A., Girard, B. L., Adams, J., & Metzl, J. D. (2005). Breakfast habits, nutritional status, body weight, and academic performance in children and adolescents. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 105(5), 743-760.

Smith, K. J., Gall, S. L., McNaughton, S. A., Blizzard, L., Dwyer, T., & Venn, A. J. (2010). Skipping breakfast: longitudinal associations with cardiometabolic risk factors in the Childhood Determinants of Adult Health Study. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 92(6), 1316-1325.

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